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HABITATION, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"Habitation" is a poem by Margaret Atwood, published in her 1978 collection "Two-Headed Poems". The poem explores the nature of marriage and relationships, and challenges conventional ideas about what marriage should be.


The poem is a meditation on the nature of marriage, and how it is often idealized and romanticized in popular culture. Atwood argues that marriage is not a physical space, but rather a complex relationship between two people that is constantly evolving and changing. She suggests that marriage cannot be contained within a fixed structure, such as a house or a tent, and that it is ultimately a dynamic and fluid entity.

Poetic Elements:

  • Theme: The poem explores the nature of marriage and questions the societal expectations placed upon it.
  • Imagery: The poem uses metaphors and vivid imagery to describe marriage as a force of nature, with phrases like "a rock against the tide" and "a force, a shrine, a cathedral."
  • Tone: The tone of the poem is reflective and contemplative, with a sense of longing and uncertainty.
  • Structure: The poem is written in free verse and does not have a consistent rhyme scheme. It consists of two stanzas, each with varying numbers of lines, which create a sense of movement and progression throughout the poem.


"Habitation" is a thought-provoking and unconventional exploration of the nature of marriage. Atwood challenges traditional ideas about marriage and relationships, and suggests that they are complex and multifaceted entities that cannot be easily defined or contained.

Poem Snippet:

Marriage is not

a house or even a tent

it is before that, and colder:

the edge of the forest, the edge

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