Margaret Atwood

(18 November 1939 / Ottawa, Ontario)

A Sad Child - Poem by Margaret Atwood

You're sad because you're sad.
It's psychic. It's the age. It's chemical.
Go see a shrink or take a pill,
or hug your sadness like an eyeless doll
you need to sleep.

Well, all children are sad
but some get over it.
Count your blessings. Better than that,
buy a hat. Buy a coat or pet.
Take up dancing to forget.

Forget what?
Your sadness, your shadow,
whatever it was that was done to you
the day of the lawn party
when you came inside flushed with the sun,
your mouth sulky with sugar,
in your new dress with the ribbon
and the ice-cream smear,
and said to yourself in the bathroom,
I am not the favorite child.

My darling, when it comes
right down to it
and the light fails and the fog rolls in
and you're trapped in your overturned body
under a blanket or burning car,

and the red flame is seeping out of you
and igniting the tarmac beside your head
or else the floor, or else the pillow,
none of us is;
or else we all are.


Comments about A Sad Child by Margaret Atwood

  • (11/18/2017 7:39:00 AM)


    What the lovely poem (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Lyn Paul (11/17/2017 5:39:00 PM)


    Heartfelt words that I have read several times. In my youth and most our age or older, we had to just get on with life. No matter what!
    I really feel your words.
    Perfect poem I shall save.
    (Report) Reply

  • (11/17/2017 3:03:00 PM)


    and the red flame is seeping out of you
    and igniting the tarmac beside your head.........ingenious write, compelling! ,10+, thanks for sharing
    (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (11/17/2017 12:05:00 PM)


    Your sadness! ! Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • Geeta Radhakrishna Menon (11/17/2017 11:48:00 AM)


    You're sad because you're sad.
    It's psychic. It's the age. It's chemical.
    Go see a shrink or take a pill,
    or hug your sadness like an eyeless doll
    you need to sleep.

    A realistic picture of sadness most effectively portrayed through this poem.
    (Report) Reply

  • Anil Kumar Panda (11/17/2017 9:17:00 AM)


    Yeah, sadness is a state of mind. See positive in things and take pleasure in small things to avoid it. Great write. Congrats. (Report) Reply

  • Bharati Nayak (11/17/2017 7:16:00 AM)


    Very powerful images to describe sadness that trap us.We are sad because we allow ourselves to be sad.We may feel sad when we feel that we lack in something like beauty, wealth or not having a lovely party dress- -there are innumerable reasons that may make us sad, Sadness is a psychological state of mind.We need to overcome it.After all , all are equal when death consumes our body.
    A wonderful write, thanks for sharing.Congratulations for being selected Poet of the Day.
    (Report) Reply

  • Bernard F. Asuncion (11/17/2017 5:29:00 AM)


    Such an interesting write, Margaret.... congrats for being chosen.... a full 10+++++ (Report) Reply

  • Kumarmani Mahakul (11/17/2017 1:05:00 AM)


    A positive write. Amazing thought. Well expressed. (Report) Reply

  • Kumar Dheeraj (8/27/2017 4:36:00 AM)


    Amazing thought.The best part is none of us is or else we all are. (Report) Reply

  • (8/21/2017 1:13:00 PM)


    I love the lesson the poem brings out (Report) Reply

  • Suresh Raavi (6/22/2017 12:05:00 AM)


    Beautiful & lovely poem (Report) Reply

  • Robert Murray Smith (5/5/2017 11:25:00 PM)


    A nice positive poem.10 (Report) Reply

  • Tapan M. Saren (4/17/2017 4:31:00 AM)


    Beautiful poem.......... (Report) Reply

  • Robert Murray Smith (3/21/2017 12:56:00 AM)


    I liked your direct no holds barred approach. (Report) Reply

  • Prem Katoch (11/23/2016 10:02:00 PM)

    A Sad Child
    It moves -so intimate and experiential. (Report) Reply

  • Pallang Mofokeng (9/28/2016 1:41:00 AM)

    i lOVE THIS
    Well, all children are sad
    but some get over it.
    Count your blessings. Better than that,
    buy a hat. Buy a coat or pet.
    Take up dancing to forget.
    (Report) Reply

  • (2/2/2016 1:54:00 PM)


    I this this poem is about child sexual abuse and the effects of it later. It speaksof how our society is also trapped in our terror of not being able to reconcile it, instead blame, and use 'mechanisms of ignore' to address the victim. (Report) Reply

  • (2/2/2016 1:48:00 PM)


    I think this poem is about child sexual abuse and what happens when realization of terror occurs. Our society is super warped and also trapped because of the mechanisms of ignore exist! (Report) Reply

  • (3/23/2015 7:50:00 AM)


    Oh my God! How incredibly wonderful this is. Every inch of me, every desire - is to be able to write such loveliness - which apparently escapes from dear Margaret without effort at all... Goodness, I just looked down and see my name on a previous comment! Love is love, I guess, and can not change regardless of its name... (Report) Reply

Read all 37 comments »

# 93 poem on top 500 Poems

User Rating:
3,8 / 5 ( 112 votes ) 37



Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: sad, fog, car, children, child, red, sleep, sun, light, dance



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

Poem Edited: Monday, April 6, 2015


[Report Error]