In Homer's epic, the Odyssey, he tells the often sad, often terrifying tale of Odysseus' attempt to return home. One encounter occurred at the Sirens' island, a rocky place where sailors me their fate in a twisted convergence of ship and shore.
Homer portrays these Sirens as dangerous and deceptive, and their song tempts Odysseus so much that he orders his men to tie him down, simply to ensure his survival. Margaret Atwood's poem: Siren Song, however, basks the Sirens in a light of subtle danger, and extreme desperation. Stanzas four and eight detail that desperation, as one Siren sings, begging for liberation "out of this bird suit... Help me!... only you can."
Despite the uncertainty of her sincerity, it highlights Atwood's frequent use of weak feminine roles screaming out for liberation. Odysseus ignores this plea from "the honeyed voices" to the best of his abilities.
Atwood and Homer differ primarily in point of view; Odysseus narrates the Odyssey, and one Siren narrates Siren Song. This difference signifies the conflict between Odysseus and the Sirens, and the one Siren's discontent with her station in the universe. Sensory language also prevails in both words. Sound and touch form into reality with Homer's choice of language, speaking of the Sirens' "ravishing voices" and the "chaffing rope." Atwood's poem, however, details the visual experience, describing the Sirens as "picturesque and mythical."
Odysseus prevails in both works, resisting the Siren's call due to his epic strength and intellect, further defying the Siren's claim, "it is a boring song, but it works every time."
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