Margaret Atwood

(18 November 1939 / Ottawa, Ontario)

This Is A Photograph Of Me - Poem by Margaret Atwood

It was taken some time ago
At first it seems to be
a smeared
print: blurred lines and grey flecks
blended with the paper;

then, as you scan
it, you can see something in the left-hand corner
a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree
(balsam or spruce) emerging
and, to the right, halfway up
what ought to be a gentle
slope, a small frame house.

In the background there is a lake,
and beyond that, some low hills.

(The photograph was taken
the day after I drowned.

I am in the lake, in the center
of the picture, just under the surface.

It is difficult to say where
precisely, or to say
how large or how small I am:
the effect of water
on light is a distortion.

but if you look long enough
you will see me.)

Comments about This Is A Photograph Of Me by Margaret Atwood

  • Rookie - 0 Points Patrick Wilson (11/11/2015 4:51:00 PM)

    Every Atwood poem has a line or several that just get under my skin in a good way; here it's 'and, to the right, halfway up/what ought to be a gentle/slope, '. Another example would be from 'Younger Sister Going Swimming' with ' no one comes by in a motorboat' I love how lines such as these play with my mind and my reality. (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Rookie G. E. W. (4/22/2010 9:14:00 PM)

    For a contemporary response to 'This is a photograph of me', check out: http: // (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Ardath Kirchner (5/14/2009 1:57:00 AM)

    I love Atwood's poetry and prose work. While her original intent in writing 'This Is a Photograph of Me' was perhaps (I haven't read her comments or any other exegesis) to express the suppression and negation of women, reading it just now reminded me that she speaks for everyone—anyone, regardless of gender or age, who has felt negation, who has felt erased by the world, can respond on a gut level to this poem. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - Cheryl - (6/4/2004 7:46:00 PM)

    In her regular line of feminist writing, Atwood is once again declaring the low importance placed by society on females. The speaker feels suppressed, pushed beneath the surface, not really seen but always there. Never noticed yet always present is the way Atwood describes women’s role in a prominently male society. (Report) Reply

Read all 4 comments »

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: house, tree, water, light, time

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

[Hata Bildir]