By Margaret Atwood
Born in Canada in 1939, Margaret Atwood is an author, poet, critic, and essayist, feminist and social campaigner. Best known as a novelist, she is also an award-winning poetess. "The City-Planners” is critical of the monotony and false beauty of modern cities, suburbs and its architecture. The poem views modern life as empty, artificial, and its inhabitants as robotic and lacking in spirit.
i. Main Subject
The main theme is the poet’s dislike for the suburban houses that look like they have been cast in the same mould. There is no imagination or creativity seen and this uniformity offends her eye. The monotony and the silence set her on edge. There is no sound of laughter heard or any sign of life seen. The city planners are working so hard at making these cloned houses that they are not concerned about what could happen in the future to these houses.
“No shouting here, or
shatter of glass; nothing more abrupt
than the rational whine of a power mower
cutting a straight swath in the discouraged grass.”
Margaret Atwood was an environmentalist who wrote this poem to protest against the city planners who have designed suburban houses with no imagination. They celebrate monotony and uniformity. There is humor, irony and annoyance in the poem.
The emotion that registers first is the annoyance the poet feels as she drives or walks along a suburb in a city where all the houses look like each other. It is repetitive and soulless. The poet feels that the city planners do not care what happens to the houses they design. The houses don’t seem lived in.
Stanzas are of irregular length written apparently as thoughts come into her mind. Free verse is the vehicle used by the poet.
It starts with long stanzas, until the poet moves on to brief three line and two line stanzas.
Easy every language written without any literary artifice... [continues]
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