The animals in that country

By Margaret Atwood b. 1939 Margaret Atwood
In that country the animals   
have the faces of people:

the ceremonial
cats possessing the streets

the fox run
politely to earth, the huntsmen   
standing around him, fixed   
in their tapestry of manners

the bull, embroidered
with blood and given
an elegant death, trumpets, his name   
stamped on him, heraldic brand   
because

(when he rolled
on the sand, sword in his heart, the teeth   
in his blue mouth were human)

he is really a man

even the wolves, holding resonant   
conversations in their   
forests thickened with legend.

            In this country the animals   
            have the faces of   
            animals.

            Their eyes
            flash once in car headlights   
            and are gone.

            Their deaths are not elegant.

            They have the faces of   
            no-one.

Margaret Atwood, “The animals in that country” from Selected Poems 1965-1975. Copyright © 1974, 1976 by Margaret Atwood. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Source: Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1976)

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Poet Margaret Atwood b. 1939

POET’S REGION Canada

Subjects Relationships, Pets

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Margaret  Atwood

Biography

Regarded as one of Canada’s finest living writers, Margaret Atwood is a poet, novelist, story writer, essayist, and environmental activist. Her books have received critical acclaim in the United States, Europe, and her native Canada, and she has received numerous literary awards, including the Booker Prize, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the Governor General’s Award, twice. Atwood’s critical popularity is matched by her . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Pets

POET’S REGION Canada

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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