Thursday, 8 April 2010


Olympia by Edouard Manet, 1863

Manet’s Olympia

By Margaret Atwood

She reclines, more or less,
Try that posture, it’s hardly languor.
Her right arm sharp angles.
With her left she conceals her ambush.
Shoes but not stockings,
how sinister. the flower
behind her ear is naturally
not real, of a piece
with the sofa’s drapery.
The windows (if any) are shut.
This is indoor sin.
Above the head of the (clothed) maid
is an invisible voice balloon: Slut.

But. Consider the body,
unfragile, defiant, the pale nipples
staring you right in the bull’s eye.
Consider also the black ribbon
around the neck. What’s under it?
A fine red threadline, where the head
was taken off and glued back on.
The body’s on offer,
but the neck’s as afar as it goes.

This is no morsel.
Put clothes on her and you’d have a schoolteacher,
the kind with the brittle whiphand.

There’s someone else in this room.
You, Monsieur Voyeur.
As for that object of yours
she’s seen those before, and better.

I, the head, am the only subject
of this picture.
You, Sir, are furniture.
Get stuffed.

This poem is brilliant! It really made my day. Not sure what else to say:)


  1. I think Monsieur Voyeur is in my neighborhood as well! ;)
    Enjoy your weekend~

  2. oh dear...:)
    But then a bit of voyeurism must be healthy, surely!

  3. When I first saw the picture I thought someone had photoshopped 'Miss Jay' from America's Next Top Model in there!