Treasure Island

Margaret Atwood

(18 November 1939 / Ottawa, Ontario)

The Moment


The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Luis Estable (9/8/2011 12:28:00 AM)

    The fourth line of the first stanza, and the line I admire the most, has an oder of increasing in size in ever greater part or portion, and gives the idea of what this poem is all about. From this line along one, the reader, can deduct the meaning of this poem, which I believe is a good poem but falls a little bit short of being great or near to great.

    The lines has power, but poetically they are not a marvel of verse, but of poetic prose in my humble estimation.

    I believe or am of the humble opinion that you did, in the total, not bad here in this try, but I have read better poetry from you.

    There is no rhyme here and the line are of different lengths, so this can be called a free style poem, though you show carefullness of details and diciton so the poem though in free style do not become too loose. Free style does not ever meas that the poet do not take into mind certain considerations such as stanza length, lines contruction and choice of words; it only has the meaning that it is not metrical poetry, the foot and the meter are not to be taken to task.

    It has been my pleasure to have gone through this pieve and have given my humble and imperfect criticism.

    The best to you ever!

    Luis Estable (Report) Reply

  • Bryan Ocampo (5/4/2010 11:18:00 PM)

    I like how Atwood refers to all the hard work you have to do accomplish everything you own and live for. She makes it clear that your struggles in life are not easy and that some roads you take can be very difficult. I like how she ends the poem with like a metaphore of death meaning you just hit a brick wall with no where to go as well as nothing else to do. How the pressure is all on you now and everything you lived for is gone. (Report) Reply

  • Brian Dorn (7/28/2006 1:53:00 PM)

    Man must learn to simply appreciate nature for what it is, we can not own it or control it... rather, it controls us. A brilliant perspective. (Report) Reply

  • Dr. Afaq Qureshi (4/19/2005 1:58:00 AM)

    is it about the proprietary rights? the transition from 'house' to 'universe' and the defining period of time where the trees and air melt, and change to make the 'owner' realize about the inherent quality of change and stark reality of something more tangible, more permanent, the change itself. Can it be read in the perspective of human drama instead of mere imagery or wordplay. Maybe the person who wrote the lines didn't think of time but of timelessness. What then.. (Report) Reply

  • Erica Lucero (2/24/2005 8:26:00 PM)

    This is a beautiful poem about nature. The main theme of this poem is natures ownership. The first stanza talks about natures beauty and that humans own all of it. The second stanza changes all of this. Margaret Atwood uses personification and imagery to convey natures rejection to the fact that humans own nature. In the third stanza nature restates that humans indeed do not own nature and that humans belong to nature. Instead of the other way around. Natures ownership is a good question. I agree that nature owns us because why else must we return to the ground when we die? (Report) Reply

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