“Siren Song” by Margaret Atwood
The speaker in Margaret Atwood's poem “Siren Song” is one of the three sirens of Greek mythology. The sirens are known as half-woman, half-bird monsters who sing songs to lure sailors to their death. In the beginning of the poem, the speaker makes it seem as if she needs the sailor's help. As the poem comes close to the end, it is apparent that the whole poem is actually the deadly song of the sirens. Margaret Atwood employs allusion, diction, and imagery to illustrate that uncontrollable temptations can ultimately lead to dire consequences.
In the poem, Margaret Atwood alludes to Greek mythology. The sirens were monsters that sured sailors to their death by singing mesmerizing songs. Sailors knew about the sirens and tried to fight the power of the sirens' song, but they were unable to overcome the temptations. The sirens promised to tell the sailors a secret and asked them to help get “out of this bird suit” because they did not “enjoy singing this trio”. When the sailors got close enough, the sirens either ate them or simply killed them. The allusion to the sirens of Greek mythology demonstrates that temptation can end with horrible consequences.
Margaret Atwood's choice of diction emphasizes the theme even further. In line 3 of the poem, the word “irresistible” I an excellent description of temptation. The speaker talks about “the [sirens'] song that is irresistible”, and this exemplifies the unrelenting powers of tempting situations or objects. The words “dead” and “fatal” emphasize the dire consequences that can result from kneeling to temptation. In line 24, the word “unique” is a word that the sirens sing in order to flatter the sailors. The sirens also say “I will tell the secret to you, to you, only to you/... Help me! Only you, only you can...” to make the sailor feel more important. Flattery can make people fall to temptation because they may be too absorbed to think forward to the...
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