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Siren Song

Siren Song

by Margaret Atwood

Stanza 6 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 16-18

with these two feathery maniacs,
I don't enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

  • By line 16, we're seeing some more Sirens. In most myths about these ladies, we usually see three of 'em flying around or squatting, so that's where these "two feathery maniacs" come from. 
  • "Feathery maniacs"—that's an endearing phrase to use in reference to your pals for life, right? So, we're seeing yet again some of the harsh truth behind the "picturesque and mythical" version of the Siren story. Here they look like the crazy folks downtown that forgot Halloween was over.
  • At the very least, our speaker would enjoy singing all day, right? Wrong. She hates that too. The song she sings is "fatal" after all, even if it's "valuable" since it's so deadly. 
  • So with this internal conflict we see happening to our speaker, we understand that being a Siren isn't so great after all. Her power may be "fatal and valuable," but if she doesn't like singing that trio, it's not really worth it.
  • Maybe we're starting to feel bad for our speaker at this point. She's forced to wear that annoying bird suit, she's surrounded by "feathery maniacs," and she doesn't even like her job. It seems that Atwood is providing us with a little twist on the whole predator-prey theme. 
  • By seeing our villain as more of a victim here, we feel like she's not entirely bad after all. She may even strike us as somewhat similar to ourselves in the context of being dissatisfied and trapped. (Check out our "Themes" section for more on this notion.)
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