Understanding of This is a Photograph of Me Poem
Eerie, my one-word description of Margaret Atwoods poem, This Is a Photograph of Me written in 1939. Based off of the words, the layout, and what the poem actually says is what gave me this eerie sense of feeling. The poem also gave me a feeling that I overlooked something so in turn I read it over and over again, this lead me to a very important conclusion. The poem is about a person being overseen and the feelings that go along with not being seen when in fact the person is right there in front of you. I think that this is a poem about herself and how distant she may come from her piece it is still about her.
Parentheses play a big role in this poem because in the first half of the poem describes the picture with hills, a house, a lake, and a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree / (balsam or spruce) emerging. The fact that it is described as a thing like a branch gives the idea that it is not surly known what it is. Also the way the parentheses are used around two different types of trees is important because that also gives question to what is really there. This is important to note because the only other time that parentheses are used is in the whole second half of the poem where Atwood reveals it is a picture of her the day after drowning.
In this second half, it is also said that she is in the center of the picture in the lake. Once again there is a lot of uncertainty of the description. Atwood uses a lot of vague language on the description of self, especially in stanza six: It is difficult to say where precisely, or to say / how large or small I am: / the effect of water / on light is a distortion. All of this language plays to the fact that she is so hard to see, even though she is in the center of the picture.
Back to the first stanza, some of the words and phrases Atwood here also give uncertainty, such as: some time ago, smeared, and blurred lines. All these statements have a commonality, they have no definite. Meaning that they do not give a boundary, they are not absolute, they are all vague. These words and phrases contribute to my analysis that it is about someone being overlooked and some of the feelings they might have such as unable to be seen and easily blended in, blurry; a feeling of death.
This poem is also slightly ironic because in is not a typical poem of rhymes and structure, it is as though Atwood is talking to the reader, but it is impossible to write a poem or talk to someone after death. I think this helps my case that we do not need to take the death in the poem literally but metaphorically as a feeling of being dead. She is always looked over, the picture describes Atwoods life because everything around her is normal and easily described blurry but there. Though she is just under the surface of the water and hard to see because the water / on the light distortion. This statement is also backwards: water / on light, just like a story of someones death.
This is a poem of Atwoods life and how she is very hard to see in the whole scheme of things. It is once said that once a poet puts a piece out that they no longer are part of it. So I think that this is a poem about herself and how distant she may come from her piece it is still about her.
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