Margaret Atwood

(18 November 1939 / Ottawa, Ontario)

The Moment - Poem by Margaret Atwood

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.


Comments about The Moment by Margaret Atwood

  • Khairul Ahsan (6/29/2018 10:02:00 PM)


    'We never belonged to you.
    You never found us.
    It was always the other way round' - the concluding lines of the poem are overwhelmingly convincing!
    (Report) Reply

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  • Glen Kappy (6/29/2018 8:13:00 AM)


    this good poem is the equivalent of a knock upside the head. it expresses the assertion of every native-american spirituality i'm aware of which is, in turn, reminiscent of the biblical assertion, the earth is the Lord's. -gk (Report) Reply

  • Pranab K Chakraborty (6/29/2018 7:51:00 AM)


    You own nothing.
    You were a visitor, time after time
    climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming........................ flag it high. It's poetry which can show us the reality of real life. Thanks for sharing.
    (Report) Reply

  • Lungelo S Mbuyazi (6/29/2018 6:39:00 AM)


    The birds take back their language.. great write (Report) Reply

  • Jasbir Chatterjee (6/29/2018 5:33:00 AM)


    How very true this is! Our scriptures also confirm that nothing belongs to us. We are all tenants and everything is just an illusion; now here, sometimes there...Lovely poem. (Report) Reply

  • Adrian Flett (6/29/2018 5:21:00 AM)


    It is, 'always the other way round' So well said. (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams (6/29/2018 2:56:00 AM)


    Stunning, absolutely stunning. I think many of the Native American tribes would understand this philosophy because it is their own intrinsic philosophy gained through living close to nature (Report) Reply

    Glen Kappy (6/29/2018 11:54:00 AM)

    Susan, I wrote my comment before I saw yours. You might find the similarities interesting. -GK

  • Robert Murray Smith (6/29/2018 2:29:00 AM)


    A goid poem. As improbabilities we came. Live improbable lives. Fed and provisioned by nature we cannot ever own the Earth or what we need.++10 (Report) Reply

  • Kumarmani Mahakul (6/29/2018 1:57:00 AM)


    Well crafted. Beautiful poem. (Report) Reply

  • Bernard F. Asuncion (6/29/2018 1:38:00 AM)


    Such a great poem by Margaret Atwood👍👍👍 (Report) Reply

  • Britte Ninad (6/29/2018 1:02:00 AM)


    It was always the other way round.

    yeah everything and everyone on the same way and on the way of same rounding
    (Report) Reply

  • Dr.tony Brahmin (5/4/2018 6:09:00 AM)


    No, they whisper. You own nothing.
    You were a visitor, time after time
    climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming..so true. nothing belongs to us. we come and go.. tony
    (Report) Reply

  • Robert Murray Smith (5/4/2018 3:52:00 AM)


    We are a fuuny mob. Thinking we have arrived only to find we have left+++10 (Report) Reply

  • Margaret O Driscoll (4/1/2016 7:29:00 AM)


    A thought provoking poem (Report) Reply

  • Lucas Ngugi (4/20/2015 5:45:00 AM)


    Ausgezeichnet!! (Report) Reply

  • (1/22/2015 5:56:00 AM)


    I like the idea that was left by Erica Lucero, that it's about (not) owning the nature.

    But, what it also made me think of, that it is that the Nature in this poem could be also read as Life itself. The moment when you think that this is it, this is what I own and this is what I've accomplished, you've settled, you've done, dead.

    Because life, living means evolvment, development, and the only things you truly own, things that no one can take away from you, are the lessons you've learnt in school and in life, knowledge through books, experiences and hurt.

    You actually cannot own nothing material. The only thing *you've given* is your life.
    (Report) Reply

  • C.ann Penning (6/17/2013 9:46:00 AM)


    I found this piece refreshing. Thank you :) (Report) Reply

  • (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

  • (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

Read all 23 comments »

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Read poems about / on: house, work, time, tree



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



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