The “Odyssey” by Homer portrays tones of toxic desiring, while Margaret Atwood’s poem, Siren Song” has tones of taunting boredom. Odysseus longs to hear the song of the Sirens even though he knows it would be detrimental to his life. In “Siren Song” the birds are teasing the reader about the meaning of their song that is not all that interesting to them.
The point of view in both of these poems is first person. The “Odyssey” is told from the perspective of Odysseus, who is affected by the song of the sirens, while “Siren Song” is told from the eyes of one of the siren birds. Odysseus tells the listener, “I signaled the crew with frowns to set me free” (21), if this had been from a different point of view, the reader would not be able to grasp just how much the speaker longs to hear the sirens. By Odysseus telling how he “stopped the ears of my comrades one by one” the reader can see firsthand what type of character he has, as he spend the morning molding this wax to save his fellow companions. If it had been someone else telling about this, the reader may have thought Odysseus was crazy for spending so much time molding the beeswax for no apparent reason.
By writing the “Siren Song” in first person, the reader is shown how the Sirens feel about their song. They know how much people desire to hear their song and they taunt the reader by hinting that they will tell the secret if the reader gets “me out of this bird suit”. The song is just a “cry for help” that the birds find “boring”, which, if it was written from any other point of view, would not be known about as it is “the song nobody knows”.
The diction of both of these poems conveys how each speaker feels about the siren song. Odysseus describes the song as “thrilling”, the birds having “thrilling voices” and that his heart “throbbed to listen longer”. The description of the song and voices shows how exciting and powerful it is to him. Odysseus’ description about his longing to hear more lets the reader see just how painful it is for him to have something so near him that he wants, but knows he cannot have. The portrayal of the sirens in “Siren Song” is completely different. The writer describes the song as “irresistible”, a “cry for help” and that it is a “boring song”. Instead of something thrilling, the birds find it dull and mundane since they know the meaning of it. It conveys the message that things are not what they seem. While Odysseus cannot get enough of the song, the siren birds cannot stand to sing it.
Mary Atwood, Siren Song