Short and Not so Sweet

I generally do not get much out of shorter poems, but Margaret Atwood’s poem, “You Fit into Me,” definitely deserves a deeper look. Although this poem is only four lines, there is a successful turn which is not only a complete turn in the opposite direction.

you fit into me

like a Hook into an eye

a fish hook

an open eye

When I first began reading this poem I did not think that there was much difference between the first two lines and the second two lines. I started out thinking about the sexual undertones of the first line because of the poem’s female writer. When I examined the second line I did not find much comfort in the idea of a hook into an eye which is why a fish hook in an open eye didn’t shock me, but after some googling I found out that there is something called a hook & eye clasp. This changed the meaning of the poem for me greatly because after seeing what a hook& eye clasp looked like I found comfort in it for one reason or another. I thought it looked elegant.

The Change in my interpretation allowed me to see the turn more clearly. While the first two lines are comforting, the third line introduces a horrific idea. A main reason I found the second two lines interesting was because a fish hook is barbed and is much easier to get in than out. I thought that this did apply to the first two lines. If the speaker in the poem is addressing a lover, and the relationship is over, it might be harder to forget about than it was to begin.

Before the turn this poem was warm and comforting, something that my grandmother could have kept from when my grandfather was courting her. When the turn came it jumped to a place that seemed somewhat hostile and angry. I do not think I would ever say something close in meaning of the last two lines to someone I knew. The typical way that I would make a turn in a poem like this would be something along the lines of:

you fit into me

like a Hook into an eye

but our love can never be

and that’s just lame 😦

I think that the way the second stanza opposes the first, while somewhat negating the feelings the reader received after reading the beginning of the poem is unique. I would like to be able to create a unique turn like the one in this poem, but I would also like to explore the meaning of words. I find it frightening that I may have thought all four lines in this poem were somewhat negative if I didn’t use Google and find the hook & eye clasp. It is amazing how jewelry can further my understanding of poetry. I guess it goes to show that inspiration and help with interpretation can be found anywhere.

-Donny Morgan

4 Responses to “Short and Not so Sweet”

  1. bennett89 Says:

    I thought the same thing as you when I first read the poem, originally thinking that the entire poem had a negative connotation. When reading “like a hook into an eye” I did picture a fish hook in an eye, so the ending did not come as a surprise, but rather a confirmation. What lead me to google “hook and eye” was the simple fact that this poem is given as an example to the ironic structure (which I didn’t originally see what was so “ironic” about it). Like you, when I did find that a simple “hook and eye” is a piece of jewelry that brings to parts together, my opinion about the poem did change as well. I think this brings up an important part of the ironic structure that we started to touch on in class. In order for a poem to be understood as ironic, there are two parts that need to be understood; what is being said and what is meant by what being said. These parts have to not only play with each other but they have to be on separate teams as well (which is a hard concept to full grasp). Marget Atwood’s poem is a prime example for this because of the two separate images that create the whole feeling. Another example of this is Charles Berstein’s “Shaker Show” is which all he states is “Now this is a chair / I wouldn’t want to sit it” (with ‘this’ being in italics). I see the chair as an electric chair because of the title, but someone else may view it simply as an ill-crafted chair.


  2. I have to comment that Google seems to be the savior of our poetry class. Everytime I turn around, someone else is saying they googled something in one of the poems. Isn’t that just amazing? Sadly, it makes me question my own understanding of poetry. Whenever we discuss things in class, I always think, “Wow, that’s so much more in depth than my interpretation.” I really admire that everyone in this class is so dedicated to their work and the work of others that they would even go out of their way to research what is written, just to better understand it or to help the author better communicate their message.

  3. You shouldn’t feel bad that your understanding of poetry isn’t the same as what you hear in class; these feelings will put a damper on your desire to continue seeking poetry. Don’t be discouraged! Sometimes, when I am lacking connection to a poem, I try to describe what I don’t understand and why. Even a lack of understanding is a sort of understanding.

  4. Jess, I think we all feel that way sometimes about poetry and how well other people can interpret it in comparison to our own. But I agree with Erin, even at times where it seems to make no sense, that is still a reaction from the reader and still warrants discussion. That’s a really great way to still engage with the text.

    And Donny, I really like what you said about having to look up the hook and the eye clasp. I think that poets and especially the one you exemplified in your post, really play with the language to get these different perspectives from readers. I know what a hook and eye clasp is but I didn’t think of that first either. I think this poem is all about first impressions and really helps the reader think through the short lines and conciseness that is used to convey the message.

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