Journey to the Interior by Margaret Atwood (Line by line Explanation) Summary

Journey to the interior poem analysisThe poem, Journey to the Interior is a transcendental poem that was published in the print edition of January  7, 1961,  that is related to the spiritual way. And here ‘Interior’ refers to the Psyche of the Poetess. During the Second World war and after the world war, many people went into bad mental conditions, to speak and cure those people, new set of poets emerged and those poets were called Confessional Poets. So you can relate, Margaret Atwood is a confessional poet.

journey to the interior

 Margaret Atwood is a Canadian Poet, Novelist, Literary Critic, Essayist, teacher, and environmental Analyst.

Overview of the Poem – Journey to the Interior.

The Poet compared her journey to the inner world and journey to the outer world. But the poem lines only describe the journey to the outer world, where she starts the journey towards mountains. And as a reader, you have to compare the journey to the interior world (Inner world) which is a journey to the mind. While reading we have to recall the things which we did to move towards our inner world. Let’s see the line-by-line explanation.

Journey to the Interior

There are similarities
I notice: that the hills
which the eyes make flat as a wall, welded
together, open as I move
to let me through; become

In the above lines, the poet describes the similarities she noticed: She notices the hills are flat when seen from a long distance, and hills are welded together. When she starts the journey towards it, it allows her to move in and the way becomes endless as a large open area of grassland.

As I said you have to relate with the journey towards the mind. Here our mind is flat and bound with different things like a wall. But when we try to move further it allows us and the way become endless. We may notice this when we do meditation for a long time.

to let me through; become
endless as prairies; that the trees
grow spindly, have their roots
often in swamps; that this is a poor country;
that a cliff is not known
as rough except by hand, and is

While in the way the trees have grown large and thin and have their roots in an area of low-lying uncultivated ground. And while in travel we may not know when there is a cliff, which is smooth when we see it but it’ll not be inaccessible after some time.

When towards our inner journey, there are things like large trees and unwanted thoughts which are grown in our mind without any care.

therefore inaccessible. Mostly
that travel is not the easy going
from point to point, a dotted
line on a map, location
plotted on a square surface
but that I move surrounded by a tangle
of branches, a net of air and alternate
light and dark, at all times;
that there are no destinations
apart from this.

Mostly her travel towards mountains is not easy with the help of maps which is not accurate when travelling in mountains and dense forests. And the travel is not in a square box, where if a point helps to move to other points. This is a journey towards a mountain and the place is not like a square. Her way was surrounded by twisted branches, a net of air and day & light(dark and light) for all times and this is the only way to go and there is no way to go to the mountain. ( There are no destinations apart from this.)

Also like a journey to the mountain, journey to the interior (our inner world) is hard and there is a map to help, sometimes the way may be good or bad, but the way which is used by others will not help us to move further and our way is the real and there is no any other way like following the way which is described in the book or other things.

There are differences
of course: the lack of reliable charts;
more important, the distraction of small details:
your shoe among the brambles under the chair
where it shouldn’t be; lucent
white mushrooms and a paring knife
on the kitchen table; a sentence
crossing my path, sodden as a fallen log
I’m sure I passed yesterday
(have I been
walking in circles again?)

In the above lines, She noticed some differences in her travel. The charts which are used to travel will not help any further when on the journey. And the distraction of small things she remembered like the brambles(a shrub of the rose family) under the chairs, glowing mushroom and a knife on the kitchen and a sentence/word which she remembers now but also she is experiencing that, these are the things she already experienced yesterday also.

There is no book or charts to guide us in the mind travel and when in travel we may experience a lot of distractions even the small words we hear is a great distraction.
Whenever we are in travel towards our inner world, we surely experience the words which we used before glance in our mind, which we are doing continually like before.

but mostly the danger:
many have been here, but only
some have returned safely.

Journey to the interior is a danger, a few people only get succeeded.

A compass is useless; also
trying to take directions
from the movements of the sun,
which are erratic;
and words here are as pointless
as calling in a vacant wilderness.
Whatever I do I must
keep my head. I know
it is easier for me to lose my way
forever here, than in other landscapes

While the travel to the mountain, a compass is not useful in that vast land to take any direction and also the old way detection from the help of sun is also useless when in the travel towards mountain nor auditory statements (words)are valid here. What is more important is keeping one’s self, without losing oneself. 

And, when one reads a poem from the words of Margaret Atwood becomes a clear Person and will understand the nature of human thoughts and Psychology easily.

I hope you loved this poem, if you want to share your thoughts about the poem or explanation or change in the explanation, please leave a comment.

SUGGESTED READING: Our World and mind is lifeless without Literature – Read Here

Visit Margaret Atwood’s Website here and Explore her famous works.

Arun Kumar S
Share with Care

Similar Posts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *