Owl Song – Atwood

Step one: observation

6 Stanzas, with 31 lines







Variable line length


  • “like a song” “like a chorus” (line 29,30)
  • “who” “who” “who” “who”
  • “I do not want” “I do not want” (line 17)
  • “he will” “he will” “he will” “he will” (last stanza)
  • “claws” (last stanza)

End stopped + run on

With sentences

A lot of “I” – which demonstrates that it is a first person speaker

“Owl Song” – titled poem

Semi colons and comas – separating the sentences

“Monotonous” slows down the pace, longer word. This gives emphasize to something.

Step two: reread

Step three: more observation

There is a shift from “I’m a murdered woman”  “I’m lost heart of murderer” although they look similar at first glance.

The repetition is like a song- like a chorus & feels like we are in the rhythm.

Metaphor – my mouth is a chisel

Owl – Claws, murderer (he), her

Owl – eyes?

Ways of dying – strangled, shot, mutilated (violent imagery)

“K” sounds stand out.

There are identical words/parallel identical words (repetition of words of the same idea):

  • Strangled, shot, mutilated (first stanza)
  • Feathers, feathered, heart, chisel, hands (second stanza)
  • Death, dying, death (third stanza)
  • Revenge, expiation (fourth stanza)
  • Murderer, killed (fifth stanza)
  • Claws, claws, violent (sixth stanza)
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Each stanza has a specific motif.

Juxtaposition of owl (soft) and chisel (not soft)

“Who” onomatopia – gives emphasize on the owl-ness.

Step four: reread 12 more times

Step five: paraphrase 

I’m a murdered woman who took the wrong way home, who was strangled in a vacant lot and left unburied, who was shot beneath a tree, who was mutilated with a knife. There are many of us.

I [soul/spirit] escaped; I am owl-like.

My mouth is a beak, my hands claws.

I sit in the forest talking about death again and again: death is ...

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