Explication of "Siren Song" by Margaret Atwood

Essay by -BAABY-High School, 12th gradeA, April 2007

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Jennifer Angelucci

April 23rd, 2007

Siren Song

Margaret Atwood's "Siren Song" is a lyric that consists of nine three-lined stanzas that neither possess any recognizable rhyme scheme nor rhythm. The speaker of this poem is a mythical creature, a Siren, who addresses us, the audience, when she speaks of the victims whom she lured through the enticing song she sings. The overall tone of this poem is sarcastic and quite sinister.

The title itself immediately depicts the theme and speaker of the poem. The whole poem is an example of classical allusion, referring to Homer's Odyssey. The Sirens within the Odyssey are said to be captivating women who sit on an island and lure men with their tantalizing song and beautiful voices, causing them to jump out of their ships and die. The title of the poem forewarns us, and with a name like "Siren", the audience should comprehend its literal meaning: "Danger! Warning! Avoid if you can!", but we, as readers, want to know more about the Siren's song, anyway.

With naïve arrogance, we approach the subject, thinking we are strong enough to turn away if things take a turn for the worse, after all, it is just a song.

In the first three stanzas, the Siren introduces and briskly elaborates on her tempting song. "This is the one song everyone would like to learn: the song that is irresistible", she says. She begins to lure us into her trap as we become curious as to why the song is so compelling. The Siren explains how men jump overboard after hearing her song, even though they see the skulls that are scattered around the island. Most would think that this is an obvious indication as to the outcome for the "squadrons [of men]" as well. Her...