Procedures for Underground by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood's collection of poetry, Procedures for Underground has 44 poems. It was published in 1970 and like Atwood's poetry collections up to 1970 there is a lot of nature imagery. In this one there are two themes that I think are more pronounced than in the others. The themes of dreams and death. I also noticed, as in all of the other collections we’ve read, the theme of drowning occurs here a few times as well. Atwood writes about Canada; this collection includes poems about Alberta, Quebec, B.C. and Ontario.

The theme of death makes sense since Atwood has had other poems about the underground, for example in her poems about Susanna Moodie the underground is mentioned after her death. She has also talked about animals, vegetables and roots being underground in some of her poetry.

There is something fascinating about the underground. It reminds me of tunnels and people who work in mines; there is something other worldly about it. There is also the unknown and something mysterious when we think about burying the dead.

The poems are divided into three sections. In the first section, one of the poems I really like is called A Dialogue which describes a type of drowning. "The dark lake slips over her head". In Interview With A Tourist, the last two lines talk about drowning as well. "Now this country is underwater; we can love only the drowned". In one of the last poems, Chrysanthemums - the last lines are: "as brilliant images the eyes are said to see the instant before drowning".

The theme of death is throughout the three sections of poems. The title poem ends the first section. In the second section is the poem called: The End Of The World: Weekend near Toronto. I love that Atwood has included this poem in a collection about death. I think it's a play on the phrase "it's not the end of the world" when sometimes we act like it is in a very dramatic way. I think this shows through in this poem as Atwood describes being stuck in traffic, near Toronto which many people seem to think is the end of the world. The irony is that if it's because of an accident, it might literally be the end of someone's life.

Dreams are also a theme in this collection and I love how Margaret brings this theme to the poem called The Dreams of The Animals. The poem shows Atwood’s desire to talk about nature, the environment and how humans are playing a role in harming and destroying it

This a great collection of poetry with some very profound messages and deep insights hidden among imagery and humour Atwood is known for.

Bookworm Rating: 🐛🐛🐛🐛

23 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Winter by Scottish author Ali Smith is the second book in her seasonal quartet. I loved the first book, Autumn and was eager to continue with the next season. It begins by introducing us to the chara