Monday, May 26, 2008

Manet's Olympia From The Perspective of Margaret Atwood

Manet's Olympia

She reclines, more or less.
Try that posture, it's hardly languor.
Her right arm sharp angles.
With her left she conceals her ambush.
Shoes but no stockings,
How sinister. The flower
behind her ear is naturally
not real, of a piece
with the sofa's drapery.
The windows, (if any) are shut.This is indoor sin.
Above the head of the (clothed) maid
is an invisible voice balloon: Slut.

But. Consider the body,
unfragile, defiant, the pale nipples
staring you right in the bull's-eye.
Consider also the black ribbon
around the neck. What's under it?
A fine, red threadline, where the head
was taken off and glued back on.
The body's an offer,
but the neck's as far as it goes.
This is no morsel.
Put clothes on her and you'd have a schoolteacher,
the kind with the brittle whiphand.

There's someone else in this room.
You, Monsieur Voyeur.
As for that object of yours
she's seen those before, and better.

I, the head,am the only subject
of this picture.
You, Sir, are furniture.
Get stuffed.
Margaret Atwood
From the collection Morning In The Burned House, 1995


  1. I've been reading "The Burned House". They're astonishing, aren't they? Margaret Atwood AND Olympia. Thanks, Sphinx.

  2. damn, that Margaret Atwood sure has a way with words.

  3. Wonderful. Yes, she does, indeed have a way with words.

  4. I've been reading my old dusty copy of morning in the burned house as well.

    I just opened to a random page and the poem there is Eva Gardner Reincarnated As A Magnolia. Hmmmm....


  5. Oh, I've never read this before. I must read "The Burned House". That painting takes my breath away. Olympia is so beautiful.

  6. Margaret Atwood. She is intense.

    The novel Cat's Eye did me in for months. I couldn't stop thinking about it and read passages from it well after I was finished reading the story from beginning to end.

  7. Isn't Margaret Atwood the bee's knees, Sphinx? "Get stuffed!" Marvelous! I often select margaret Atwood's poetry when we do selections in class! :)


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