Song of the Worms

March 29, 2009 at 7:18 pm (Uncategorized)

A poem by Canadian poet Margaret Atwood. I ran this years ago in Red & Black Notes. Recently, I was reminded of it.


We have been underground too long,

we have done our work,

we are many and one,

we remember when we were human

We have lived among roots and stones,

we have sung but no one has listened,

we come into the open air

at night only to love

which disgusts the soles of boots,

their leather strict religion.

We know what a boot looks like

when seen from underneath,

we know the philosophy of boots,

their metaphysic of kicks and ladders.

We are afraid of boots

but contemptuous of the foot that needs them.

Soon we will invade like weeds,

everywhere but slowly;

the captive plants will rebel

with us, fences will topple,

brick walls ripple and fall,

there will be no more boots.

Meanwhile we eat dirt

and sleep; we are waiting

under your feet.

When we say Attack

you will hear nothing

at first.



  1. Notes on Kipling « Notes from Underground said,

    […] As I was writing this post, I was listening to Billy Bragg, and remembered Bragg set one of Kipling’s poems to music, “A Pict Song.” The poem is from Kipling’s book Puck of Pook’s Hill.  Bragg’s song appears on his William Bloke album. Bragg’s version makes several changes, most notably substituting state for great in the second stanza. The whole thing reminds me of “Song of the Worms” by Margaret Atwood. […]

  2. Morgan said,

    What is this poem about???the meaning?symbolizm?

    • fischerzed said,

      I first came across this poem in an issue of the newsletter of the London Workers Group. Liked it right away.I’m not sure when it was written, and pretty much any google search bring you here. I always took it to be a metaphor for the class struggle, and the workers as worms. Underfoot, underground, waiting.

      One day our time will come. Till then, we wait amd think.

    • Hunter said,

      It’s about Women’s rights and how they have been discriminated.

      • fischerzed said,

        Hmm, makes sense. I still like my earlier interpretation though. The great thing about literature is that multiple interepretations are possible.

  3. Song of the Worms Redux « Notes from Underground said,

    […] in point “Song of the Worms.”  It’s a poem by Margaret Atwood. I printed it in Red & Black Notes a while back, […]

  4. Hell in Session? | Notes from Underground said,

    […] school gets up and running, certain vintage posts on this blog get a lot more hits. For a long time Song of the Worms was a big hit,  but recently my notes on Goya are getting a lot of hits. Someone has assigned […]

  5. Kitchen-Counter-Culture said,

    Thanks for this 🙂

  6. Worms, Soil, Climate Change, Compost Loos, Bookish | Kitchen Counter Culture said,

    […] Song of the Worms,  Margaret Atwood […]

  7. Worms, Soil, Climate Change, Compost Loos, Bokashi | Kitchen Counter Culture said,

    […] Song of the Worms,  Margaret Atwood […]

  8. ivmaglio said,

    Reblogged this on ivanmaglio.

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