by Margaret Atwood
Stanza 9 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.
- We have arrived "at last." And what have we discovered? It turns out that we faced the same end as the rest of those duped sailors, since the speaker tells us in line 27, "it works every time."
- So actually we're no different than the dead sailors, even though we felt pretty convinced that we were special and unique.
- (Darn it all.) All the while, from the moment the speaker started the poem, we were in fact hearing the song. We just didn't realize it because we were too busy believing we were destined to be special and could save the day.
- And that's why the speaker says in lines 26 and 27 that "it is a boring song" because she always sings the same thing and folks like us are always buying right into it.
- Notice too how the speaker's voice changes once we take the bait and arrive "at last." She suddenly becomes bored and disinterested again in the nonchalant way she says that song "works every time."
- By the end, the predator-prey theme is turned completely on its head. We didn't even really know we were being baited until it was too late. While we thought we were listening to the Siren talk about her song this whole time, we were actually listening to her song. And that's kind of how the whole Siren myth works. Folks are lured into the trap because of the song's enchanting way of capturing our hearts and souls.
- But in this case, we're also the victims of our own egos as we fall right into the trap of believing that we're the big, awesome heroes when in fact we're the sad, pathetic prey. And the Siren-speaker did it all in the matter of only a few lines. That's how predictable we are. Yup—we're kicking ourselves, too. We are not too bright, it turns out. Worse than that, now we're Siren food.