Can anybody help me understand "This Is a Photograph of Me" by Margaret Atwood?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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"This Is a Photograph of Me" by Margaret Atwood is a poem written in the first person in the present tense. The narrator is talking about a photograph of herself to an unnamed interlocutor. At first, we get the impression of a vacation photo, that appears to have been taken at a typical cottage in Ontario's lake country. The main objects in the photo are an evergreen tree, a small house, and the lake.

The fourth through eighth stanzas of the poem are enclosed in parentheses and represent a radical shift from the apparent blandness of the initial description. The narrator now informs us that the photo was taken after she drowned. She next mentions that it is difficult to see her in the photo, but she is there. We do not know if this means literally (that her body is somewhere underneath the water) or figuratively (that her death is the most important element of the scene). When we are told that if we look long enough we may see her, the reference may be to a sense that she felt unseen or ignored in her life. 


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