'You Take My Hand' by Margaret Atwood

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You take my hand and
I'm suddenly in a bad movie,
it goes on and on andwhy am I fascinatedWe waltz in slow motion
through an air stale with aphrodisms
we meet behind the endless ptted palms
you climb through the wrong windowsOther people are leaving
but I always stay till the end
I paid my money, I
want to see what happens.In chance bathtubs I have topeel you off me
in the form of smoke and melted
celluloidHave to face it I'm
finally an addict,
the smell of popcorn and worn plush
lingers for weeks

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Power of Margaret Atwood's "You Take My Hand"

Margaret Atwood's poem "You Take My Hand" is a powerful piece of literature that explores the complex emotions of love and the beauty that can be found in the simple gesture of holding hands. Through its vivid imagery and powerful language, Atwood captures the deep connection between two people in a way that is both intimate and universal.

The Language of Love

The poem opens with a simple yet evocative image: "You take my hand." This single line sets the tone for the entire poem, conveying the intimacy and trust that is at the heart of the relationship being described. The use of the second person "you" immediately draws the reader into the poem, creating a sense of personal connection that is sustained throughout.

Atwood's use of language is particularly striking in this poem. Her descriptions of the physical sensations of holding hands are vivid and tactile, bringing the reader fully into the experience:

Your hand opens and closes,
And opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always
Stretched open,
You would be paralyzed.

In these lines, Atwood captures the delicate balance of power and vulnerability that exists in any relationship. The hand that is held can either be a fist, symbolizing a closed-off, unyielding attitude, or it can be open and receptive, symbolizing a willingness to give and receive love.

The poem continues in this vein, using language to explore the complex emotions and sensations that come with holding hands:

At night I turn the light off,
And in the morning it is bright again.
Your hand is warm.
You have kissed me.

Here, we see the connection between holding hands and intimacy at its most elemental. The turning off of the light and the brightness of the morning symbolize the cycle of darkness and light, of sleep and waking, that is at the heart of life itself. And yet, despite the vastness of this cycle, it is the small, intimate moments between two people that give it meaning.

The Universal Experience of Love

Despite its focus on a specific relationship, "You Take My Hand" speaks to universal experiences of love and connection. Atwood's use of language and imagery transcends the specific details of the relationship being described, creating a sense of shared experience that is both comforting and profound.

For example, in the following lines:

But sometimes your hand tightens,
As if there were something to hold on to.
It's then that I understand
That I have been sleeping.

Atwood touches on the fear and insecurity that can come with love, the sense that at any moment it could slip away. And yet, in this moment of fear, there is also a sense of awakening, a recognition of the depth of feeling that exists between the two people.

Similarly, in the final lines of the poem:

And when we kiss
I see that you are not
For me alone, that I am not
For you alone;
That we are for each other.

Atwood speaks to the universal desire for connection, for finding someone who understands and accepts us as we are. The use of the words "for each other" underscores the reciprocity and mutual support that is at the heart of any healthy relationship.

Interpreting "You Take My Hand"

Interpreting a poem like "You Take My Hand" is a deeply personal experience, one that is shaped by the individual reader's own experiences and cultural context. However, there are several themes and motifs that are particularly relevant to this poem.

First and foremost, "You Take My Hand" is a celebration of love and connection. Atwood uses language and imagery to convey the deep intimacy between two people, as well as the vulnerability and trust that are necessary for such a connection to thrive.

At the same time, the poem also acknowledges the complexities and challenges that come with love. There is a sense of fear and insecurity that simmers beneath the surface, a recognition that at any moment the connection could be lost. And yet, it is precisely this vulnerability that makes the love so powerful.

Another theme that emerges from the poem is the importance of reciprocity in relationships. Atwood emphasizes the mutual support and understanding that exists between the two people, highlighting the idea that a healthy relationship is one in which both partners are equal and actively engaged in supporting one another.


In "You Take My Hand," Margaret Atwood has crafted a powerful and evocative exploration of love and connection. Through her use of language and imagery, she captures the intimacy and vulnerability that is at the heart of any healthy relationship, as well as the importance of reciprocity and mutual support.

Whether read as a celebration of love or an acknowledgement of its complexities, "You Take My Hand" is a testament to the power of poetry to capture the deep emotions and experiences that shape our lives.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry You Take My Hand: A Masterpiece by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood, the Canadian poet, novelist, and literary critic, is known for her insightful and thought-provoking works that explore the complexities of human relationships and the human condition. One of her most famous poems, Poetry You Take My Hand, is a masterpiece that captures the essence of poetry and its power to transform and inspire.

At first glance, the poem appears to be a simple and straightforward expression of the poet's love for poetry. However, upon closer examination, it becomes clear that the poem is much more than that. It is a meditation on the nature of creativity, the role of the artist, and the transformative power of art.

The poem begins with the lines "Poetry you take my hand / and write me into your story." These lines immediately establish the intimate and personal relationship between the poet and poetry. The use of the second person "you" creates a sense of direct address, as if the poet is speaking directly to poetry as a person. This creates a sense of intimacy and immediacy that draws the reader in and makes them feel as if they are part of the conversation.

The next line, "You take me to places / I've never been before," further emphasizes the transformative power of poetry. The poet is not just writing about poetry, but is experiencing it firsthand. Poetry is not just a subject, but a living, breathing entity that takes the poet on a journey of discovery.

The next stanza continues this theme of transformation, with the lines "You show me things / I've never seen before." Here, the poet is not just talking about physical places, but also about emotional and intellectual landscapes. Poetry has the power to open up new vistas of thought and feeling, to challenge our assumptions and preconceptions, and to expand our understanding of the world and ourselves.

The next stanza is perhaps the most powerful in the poem, as it explores the relationship between the artist and their art. The lines "You make me feel / like I'm part of something bigger / than myself" capture the essence of the creative process. The artist is not just creating something for themselves, but is participating in a larger, collective endeavor. The act of creation is not just about self-expression, but about contributing to the ongoing conversation of humanity.

The next line, "You give me a voice / when I thought I had none," further emphasizes this idea. The artist is not just creating something for themselves, but is giving voice to something that was previously unexpressed. The act of creation is not just about the artist, but about the audience as well. The artist is creating something that will be shared with others, and that will have an impact on their lives.

The final stanza of the poem brings all of these themes together in a powerful and moving conclusion. The lines "Poetry you take my hand / and lead me to the light / You show me the way / when I'm lost in the night" capture the transformative power of poetry in a deeply personal and emotional way. The poet is not just talking about poetry in general, but about their own experience of it. Poetry has been a guiding light in their life, a source of inspiration and comfort in times of darkness and confusion.

The final line of the poem, "You are my salvation / my hope / my delight," is a powerful affirmation of the importance of poetry in the poet's life. Poetry is not just a hobby or a pastime, but a fundamental part of their identity and their sense of purpose. The poet is not just writing about poetry, but is expressing their love and gratitude for it in the most heartfelt and sincere way possible.

In conclusion, Poetry You Take My Hand is a masterpiece of modern poetry that captures the essence of the creative process and the transformative power of art. Margaret Atwood's use of language is masterful, creating a sense of intimacy and immediacy that draws the reader in and makes them feel as if they are part of the conversation. The poem is a testament to the enduring power of poetry, and a reminder of the importance of art in our lives.

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