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A Poem by Margaret Atwood: ‘Bored’

A Poem by Margaret Atwood: ‘Bored’

rows of images of two people in a boat, with the people cut out of the photos; the one in the top left corner is covered with a yellow splotch
Miki Lowe

Revealed in The Atlantic in 1994

When the poet and novelist Margaret Atwood was a toddler, she spent a lot of every 12 months within the forests of northern Quebec. Her father was an entomologist—he stored an insect lab up there—and the household went together with him to the freezing wilds with out electrical energy. “Locations select you,” the grownup Atwood as soon as stated when requested how she determined the place to find a narrative. In a way, that was additionally true of her adolescence. Her father selected the place, or the place selected her; she definitely didn’t select it herself. What younger individual does?

Studying Atwood’s poem “Bored,” I think about her on this interval: a typical tween who “might hardly wait to get / the hell out of there.” She’s rolling her eyes about holding logs to noticed, carrying wooden, sitting in a ship. I’ll admit, I don’t actually know if Atwood was writing about that point of her life. However I do know that she revealed this poem in 1994 after her father died in 1993, and right here her reminiscence feels saturated with grief. She’s gripped with the remorse that so many people know: What felt unbearably mundane within the second reveals itself later to be valuable, if solely as a result of it handed within the firm of a cherished one.

The individual Atwood remembers, although, hasn’t left her with nothing. He’s taught her to see the world in all its minute element. That loving consideration turns the filth beneath his fingernail, or the material on the boat’s seat, from boring to transcendent. That is the distinction between people and different animals, Atwood suggests: All kinds of creatures spend their days partaking, repeatedly, in the identical existentially pointless duties. However they don’t all stand again and observe themselves doing it. In fact, that’s precisely what Atwood is doing right here: From the ache of loss and perspective, she’s created which means.

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