“Siren Song” by Margaret Atwood

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:
the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see the beached skulls
the song nobody knows
because anyone who has heard it
is dead, and the others can’t remember.
Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?
I don’t enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical
with these two feathery maniacs,
I don’t enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.
I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song
is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique
at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.


Margaret Atwood, “Siren Song” from Selected Poems 1965-1975. Copyright © 1974, 1976 by Margaret Atwood.

Source: Poetry (February 1974).

3 thoughts on ““Siren Song” by Margaret Atwood

  1. I have always ALWAYS been intrigued by the siren song. I read about the mythology when I was too young to understand the metaphor. Now that I’m old enough to know better…well, I get the whole skulls on the beach thing.

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