Margaret Atwood

(18 November 1939 / Ottawa, Ontario)

Variations On The Word Love

Poem by Margaret Atwood

This is a word we use to plug
holes with. It's the right size for those warm
blanks in speech, for those red heart-
shaped vacancies on the page that look nothing
like real hearts. Add lace
and you can sell
it. We insert it also in the one empty
space on the printed form
that comes with no instructions. There are whole
magazines with not much in them
but the word love, you can
rub it all over your body and you
can cook with it too. How do we know
it isn't what goes on at the cool
debaucheries of slugs under damp
pieces of cardboard? As for the weed-
seedlings nosing their tough snouts up
among the lettuces, they shout it.
Love! Love! sing the soldiers, raising
their glittering knives in salute.

Then there's the two
of us. This word
is far too short for us, it has only
four letters, too sparse
to fill those deep bare
vacuums between the stars
that press on us with their deafness.
It's not love we don't wish
to fall into, but that fear.
this word is not enough but it will
have to do. It's a single
vowel in this metallic
silence, a mouth that says
O again and again in wonder
and pain, a breath, a finger
grip on a cliffside. You can
hold on or let go.


Comments about Variations On The Word Love by Margaret Atwood

  • Mahtab BangaleeMahtab Bangalee (7/18/2019 10:39:00 PM)

    vacuums between the stars
    that press on us with their deafness.
    It's not love we don't wish
    to fall into, but that fear.
    //
    beautiful poem penned and shared; thanks(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Savita TyagiSavita Tyagi (7/18/2019 10:28:00 PM)

    Interesting poem. Love is certainly a good filler. Not only for unfinished thoughts but also unfulfilled life if only one would give it a chance. The poems abounds with creativity!(Report)Reply

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  • Khairul AhsanKhairul Ahsan (7/18/2019 10:08:00 PM)

    ' but that fear.
    this word is not enough but it will
    have to do. It's a single
    vowel in this metallic
    silence, a mouth that says
    O again and again in wonder
    and pain, a breath, a finger
    grip on a cliffside. You can
    hold on or let go.' - Wonderful! Rightly chosen as the 'Modern Poem of the Day'!(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Edward Kofi LouisEdward Kofi Louis (7/18/2019 11:14:00 AM)

    In wonder! !

    Thanks for sharing this poem with us.(Report)Reply

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  • viraat (7/18/2019 10:56:00 AM)

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    0 person liked.
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  • Glen KappyGlen Kappy (7/18/2019 10:20:00 AM)

    If we may have thought that all that could be written in poems about love had been exhausted, here’s this poem with its vivid and tactile images and words. Nope. Not exhausted. Can love ever be? -Glen(Report)Reply

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  • Banamala SenBanamala Sen (7/18/2019 7:30:00 AM)

    Exceptional! Last four lines - how meaningful, Superb!(Report)Reply

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  • Ratnakar Mandlik (7/18/2019 6:35:00 AM)

    An amazing thought provoking poem showing the hollowness of frequently used words like love and two of us without meaning either of them. Well deserved modern poem of the Day.(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
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  • Kumarmani MahakulKumarmani Mahakul (7/18/2019 6:00:00 AM)

    There are whole
    magazines with not much in them
    but the word love, you can
    rub it all over your body and you
    can cook with it too.....outstanding conceptualization. A beautiful poem on love is wisely delineated.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Luis Estable (7/18/2019 4:46:00 AM)

    This is a love poem, but she gives it a fresh take by the language she uses.
    I think she is more than a novelist that a poet. But this take is not bad and some of her poems are quite good. But to my way of thinking, her novels are her best work.(Report)Reply

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  • Dr Dillip K SwainDr Dillip K Swain (7/18/2019 12:57:00 AM)

    Margaret Atwood’s masterpiece, ‘Surfacing' vibrates in my mind while I go through this wonderful work on love! The illustrious expression, “There are whole magazines with not much in them but the word love” signifies why Margaret Atwood’s works are so endearing!(Report)Reply

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  • Adeeb AlfatehAdeeb Alfateh (7/18/2019 12:49:00 AM)

    It's not love we don't wish
    to fall into, but that fear.
    this word is not enough but it will
    have to do. It's a single
    vowel in this metallic
    silence,

    ow
    great
    great 10+++++++++++++++(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Bernard F. AsuncionBernard F. Asuncion (7/18/2019 12:39:00 AM)

    A lovely poem by Margaret Attwood...(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • drewlia (2/5/2018 3:29:00 PM)

    We love this poem.and we always find this poem. I remember when i said this to her on our wedding day and we've been together ever since.(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Nanziri JanetNanziri Janet (2/11/2016 6:54:00 PM)

    I tend to think that every one should listen to this poem....on point(Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
Read all 15 comments »




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Read poems about / on: silence, red, fear, pain, love, soldier, star



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



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