They are hostile nations

By Margaret Atwood b. 1939 Margaret Atwood
i

In view of the fading animals
the proliferation of sewers and fears   
the sea clogging, the air
nearing extinction

we should be kind, we should
take warning, we should forgive each other

Instead we are opposite, we   
touch as though attacking,

the gifts we bring
even in good faith maybe   
warp in our hands to
implements, to manoeuvres


ii

Put down the target of me
you guard inside your binoculars,   
in turn I will surrender

this aerial photograph   
(your vulnerable
sections marked in red)   
I have found so useful

See, we are alone in
the dormant field, the snow
that cannot be eaten or captured


iii

Here there are no armies   
here there is no money

It is cold and getting colder,

We need each others’
breathing, warmth, surviving   
is the only war
we can afford, stay

walking with me, there is almost   
time / if we can only   
make it as far as

the (possibly) last summer

Margaret Atwood, “They are hostile nations” 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 Harcourt, 1976)

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Poet Margaret Atwood b. 1939

POET’S REGION Canada

Subjects Marriage & Companionship, Living

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 Marriage & Companionship, Living

POET’S REGION Canada

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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