poet Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood

#81 on top 500 poets

This Is A Photograph Of Me

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
eventually
you will see me.)

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

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Comments about This Is A Photograph Of Me by Margaret Atwood

  • Practicing PoetessPracticing Poetess (2/17/2019 1:46:00 AM)

    Ew-w-w, creepy poem!
    How she was able to write it after drowning, I find difficult to grasp.
    But I suppose when it comes to poetry, anything is possible!
    A macabre selection for Poem of the Day!

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  • Khairul AhsanKhairul Ahsan (2/16/2019 11:17:00 PM)

    'he effect of water
    on light is a distortion.

    but if you look long enough
    eventually
    you will see me' - love the way the poetess draws the end to the poem.
    Congratulations on the poem's selection as the 'Modern Poem of the Day'!

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  • Ratnakar Mandlik (2/16/2019 11:11:00 PM)

    Wonderful description of the background in the photograph drawn from memory lane.

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  • Mahtab BangaleeMahtab Bangalee (2/16/2019 10:13:00 PM)

    self discovery in the crystal mirror like water-

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

    /// excellent poetic expression

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  • James MclainJames Mclain (2/16/2019 3:01:00 PM)

    And after looking long enough you have seen me.
    In a tattered, checker red and white dress and on my small feet,
    what we're once black and white shoes.
    I do not now know what became of my mother's lost photograph.

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  • Dr Tony BrahminDr Tony Brahmin (2/16/2019 2:26:00 PM)

    but if you look long enough
    eventually
    you will see me.) strange but fine of a poem. tony

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  • Adrian FlettAdrian Flett (2/16/2019 4:17:00 AM)

    'the effect of water
    on light is a distortion'

    The whole poem is a distortion and an illusion turned to an irony view of the poet's image.
    Is

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  • Edward Kofi LouisEdward Kofi Louis (2/16/2019 2:24:00 AM)

    I am in the lake! ! ! !

    Thanks for sharing this poem with us.

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  • Bernard F. AsuncionBernard F. Asuncion (2/16/2019 12:51:00 AM)

    One of the best poems of Margaret Atwood......

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  • 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.

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  • G. E. W. (4/22/2010 9:14:00 PM)

    For a contemporary response to 'This is a photograph of me', check out: http: //egobeagle.blogspot.com/2010/04/this-is-photograph-of-me.html

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  • 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.

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  • - 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.

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