Margaret Atwood

(18 November 1939 / Ottawa, Ontario)

Is/Not - Poem by Margaret Atwood

Love is not a profession
genteel or otherwise

sex is not dentistry
the slick filling of aches and cavities

you are not my doctor
you are not my cure,

nobody has that
power, you are merely a fellow/traveller

Give up this medical concern,
buttoned, attentive,

permit yourself anger
and permit me mine

which needs neither
your approval nor your suprise

which does not need to be made legal
which is not against a disease

but against you,
which does not need to be understood

or washed or cauterized,
which needs instead

to be said and said.
Permit me the present tense.

Comments about Is/Not by Margaret Atwood

  • (6/29/2018 3:00:00 PM)

    Here is what Margaret Atwood trying to say about love and:

    https: //
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  • Sylvaonyema Uba (2/11/2017 11:31:00 PM)

    Permit me the present tense.

    Nice poem.
    Words well chosen for grammatical effect.

    (Report) Reply

  • (11/30/2016 7:48:00 PM)

    When one reads the entire poem, as shown below, thankfully by Eileen Slade, it is far more revealing in the picture it supposes of life as it just plain is. The last verse sums it up perfectly. Fighting our way not out, just through, everyone. (Report) Reply

  • R Soos (11/30/2016 10:34:00 AM)

    Perfect line for nightclub comic: sex is not dentistry - the slick filling of aches and cavities =: -) (Report) Reply

  • (11/30/2016 3:20:00 AM)

    An awesome poem about much more than just love and sex. When it relates to Margaret Atwood, look for the unexpected. Even without the second have, it deserves the honor of Poem Of The Day! That being said, thank you Eileen for presenting the full version. It became even more Awesome! (Report) Reply

  • Kumarmani Mahakul (11/30/2016 1:26:00 AM)

    Beautiful presentation on love and sex. Congratulation for this poem as a poem of the day...10 (Report) Reply

  • Bernard F. Asuncion (11/30/2016 12:59:00 AM)

    nobody has that
    power, you are merely a fellow/traveller...

    The frailty of humankind.......
    (Report) Reply

  • Indira Renganathan (11/30/2016 12:58:00 AM)

    This poem is a bit confusing...what is the poet trying to say about love and the lover...I can't get clearly...because many medical words are used...I would call this a medicinal love poem (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (11/30/2016 12:53:00 AM)

    Pure with the muse of the truth! Thanks for sharing this poem with us. (Report) Reply

  • Mohammed Asim Nehal (3/9/2016 11:49:00 AM)

    Very well thought and written, message is very clear but what made her to think like this is a big question. (Report) Reply

    (3/12/2016 12:12:00 PM)

    Hey, I'm doing an assigment about this poem and as I'm quite new to english poetry, I didn't really get the message. Would you be so kind to tell me what is the message of the poem? Of course you don't need to do it, but you would help me a lot.

  • (12/28/2006 11:40:00 AM)

    is there by any chance another link to a website with this poem posted, because i can't find any and i need about two other sources confirming this poem is by margaret atwood. (Report) Reply

  • (12/20/2006 9:26:00 AM)

    This is only half the poem. People should be more observant and careful before posting on the internet, but I guess in this age of immediacy, that may be too much to ask. The rest of the poem is this (and the first part of the poem should be labeled with 'i.') :


    I am not a saint or a cripple,
    I am not a wound; now I will see
    whether I am a coward.

    I dispose of my good manners,
    you don't have to kiss my wrists.

    This is a journey, not a war,
    there is no outcome,
    I renounce predictions

    and aspirins, I resign the future
    as I would resign an expired passport:
    picture and signature gone
    along with holidays and safe returns.

    We're stuck here
    on this side of the border
    in this country of thumbed streets and stale buildings

    where there is nothing spectacular
    to see and the weather is ordinary

    where love occurs in its pure form only
    on the cheaper of the souvenirs

    where we must walk slowly,
    where we may not get anywhere

    or anything, where we keep going,
    fighting our ways, our way
    not out but through.
    (Report) Reply

  • (12/4/2006 9:27:00 PM)

    Members should be ashamed to not have anything written here. (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: anger, power, love

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

Poem Edited: Wednesday, November 30, 2016

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