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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

MOMENT, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"The Moment" is a poem by Margaret Atwood, published in her collection "Morning in the Burned House" in 1995. The poem captures a single moment in time, exploring themes of memory, loss, and the fleeting nature of human experiences.


In "The Moment," Atwood presents a snapshot of a moment frozen in time. The poem describes a woman sitting alone in a room, watching dust particles dance in the sunlight. As she watches the particles, memories flood her mind, both pleasant and painful. She recalls moments of love and loss, and wonders if anyone else in the world is feeling the same way she is. The woman acknowledges the fleeting nature of the moment and the impermanence of all human experiences, both joyful and painful.

Poetic Elements:

  • Imagery: Atwood uses vivid imagery to capture the dust particles dancing in the sunlight, and the memories they evoke in the woman.
  • Theme: The poem explores themes of memory, loss, and the fleeting nature of human experiences.
  • Tone: The tone of the poem is reflective and melancholy, capturing the bittersweet nature of memories and the impermanence of life.
  • Structure: The poem is structured in four stanzas of varying length, with no consistent rhyme scheme. The lack of a strict structure reinforces the theme of impermanence and the idea that moments in time are fleeting and cannot be contained.


"The Moment" by Margaret Atwood is a poignant and thought-provoking poem that explores the fleeting nature of time and the human experience. Through her use of vivid imagery, repetition, and powerful metaphors, Atwood conveys the complexity of human emotions and the inevitability of change. The poem's structure, with its shifting perspectives and interwoven narratives, serves to underscore its central themes and adds to its emotional impact. Overall, "The Moment" is a beautifully crafted piece of poetry that invites the reader to reflect on the transience of life and the significance of the moments that shape it.

Poem Snippet:

"I can hear the clock outside my room

ticking away the moments

of this ordinary life,

driving the nails in one by one."

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