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Variation On The Word Sleep
(18 November 1939 / Ottawa, Ontario)

Variation On The Word Sleep

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and as you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.

User Rating: 4,2 / 5 ( 55 votes ) 7

Comments (7)

What a loveliest naughtiest poem, a flirting one, but true mesmerizing and captured wel. This poem shows the trails of a CLASSIC POETESS. A 10 Topscore and much much more. By using the Anaphora, the reader gets a sensual and touching poem. Dear Mrs. Atwood, last year December or Nov 2019, you have been interviewed by our Dutch newspaper called NRC Handelsblad, perhaps a latest novel of you would be published, am not sure
of your dream, from the grief at the center I would like to follow you up the long stairway again & become the boat that would row you back carefully, a flame in two cupped hands to where your body lies beside me, great rate 10+++++
It's not necessary to pause after each line of poetry
It is not that easy to understand the poem though it looks very simple. Atwood has the uncanny knack of composing poems the meaning of which will be hidden and the reader has the liberty to deduce the meaning as far his imagination can go.
This is an amazing poem. To what extant the poet prevails over her unidentified subject through self-abnegation is for the individual reader to determine, according to his or her degree of cynicism. But it can be happily read at face value. Has a mythic scariness. MM
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