The Sacred Path

Journeys through the mist

Siren Song

While perusing the internet for things obscure I ended up at a poetry site reading Margaret Atwood’s poem, Siren Song, which I had not read in many years. I’ve included the poem, which you can find by clicking the “continue reading” tag below, but first a little review of mythology for those of you who may not be familiar with the Sirens.

the sirenIn Greek mythology the Sirens were sea deities who lived on an island called Sirenum scopuli and were the daughters of Achelous. Some versions of the myth say that the Sirens were the playmates of Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, and daughter of Zeus and Demeter. After Persephone was abducted the Sirens were given wings and it is said that their song is continually calling to Persephone. If a ship passed within hearing range of the island the sailors upon hearing the Sirens sing, would jump into the sea and to their fate at the hands of the Sirens. Leonardo da Vinci wrote, “The siren sings so sweetly that she lulls the mariners to sleep; then she climbs upon the ships and kills the sleeping mariners.” Source on Siren mythology: Wikipedia

One can claim that this is all just fantasy, flights of imagination, myth, but the sad fact is that history is full of examples of the Siren Song captivating and seducing mankind. There are almost endless verses to the Siren Song with many yet unsung, and with each successive generation new Sirens take up the lyre and begin to sing. Always the result is the same; people are seduced and jump into the sea.

When we leap into the sea at hearing a Siren Song, we give our personal power away to the Siren, and once given it is not easy to get back. It is vitally important that we each think calmly and clearly before giving our personal power to anyone. It is our responsibility to ourselves and to the entirety of existence, and we should not take this responsibility lightly.

Siren Song

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see the beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who has heard it
is dead, and the others can’t remember.

Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?

I don’t enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical

with these two feathery maniacs,
I don’t enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song

is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique

at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.

Margaret Atwood


  1. This is a beautifully written and thoughtful post indeed. I’ll be thinking about it.

  2. Thank you brightfeather.

  3. As a “muse” I’ve also been interested in the sirens. You give very good advice, here. The poem is shattering, speaks of codependency, and much in our society. I’m in the middle of a post on “being of service” and your post is contributing. Thanks for this.

  4. Thanks Muse, and I’ll be looking forward to your post on “being of service.” In the second half of my senior year in high school, I only needed one class to have enough credits to graduate so I chose a classes I though would be easy and not take a lot of thinking, and one of those was mythology. It turned out to be one of the most fascinating classes I ever took and prompted me to take another in college. I don’t remember all the names, but so often things happening in the “here and now” that take me back to mythology.

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