A "Visionary" Marriage A Close reading of the poem "ATM"

The poem "ATM" exhibits a non-traditional couple who are distant from each other, both physically and mentally. The wife is a stereotypical and submissive woman who shows great obedience and loyalty to her husband. Instead of turning to other men and making her husband a cuckold, all the woman does is spend her relaxing days in the garden. Meanwhile, she cares much about the sustainability of her family and the privacy between spouses. She does not bother to inquire much about her husband because she trusts and loves him. More importantly, she considers him as a good father who can provide both financial and spiritual support. However, what the naive wife fails to realize is that too many changes take place while her husband attempts to make a living abroad. The beautified image of her husband that she loves becomes a self-cheating one, which consoles her lonely soul. The once affectionate husband is replaced by an indifferent and unchaste men who struggles hard to support the family that he owes a lot to.

In terms of the husband, he clearly knows that he shoulders too much pressure -- a perfect image of himself from his wife and a bright future for the family. However, he is fed up with his unenthusiastic and tedious life and gradually loses the desire to reveal his real thoughts to his spouse. What disappoints him is the fact that his position as a breadwinner and a backbone makes him important to his wife, and this is the reason why she does not pry. In reality, he works hard so as to compensate for the family and alleviate his sense of guilt and remorse because he has once betrayed his lover. The following line "[what] he has split apart he knows is forgiven" expresses the husband's wishes: he hopes that the money he earned can make up for the loss in the wife's heart and gain her forgiveness.

By applying palindrome as the verse form, the poet successfully provokes the readers' thoughts towards the relationship between this couple and creates a depressive atmosphere. Through reading the second stanza, readers have a chance to re-examine the relationship from the husband's perspective. They may be surprised to find a slight difference by comparing the two stanzas: both the husband and the wife think that while they, themselves, have changed much, their spouses remain almost the same. In this case, the couple lives in a fairytale created by themselves and cannot share empathy for each other. Meanwhile, palindrome creates a oppressive atmosphere in which readers may feel out of breath and depressed by reading the lifeless words for a second time. In general, this poem examines a "visionary" marriage that is unrealistic and hypocritical to both the man and the woman imprisoned in it.

A Woman Waits For Her Remote Lover and Beautifies Him Through Imagination

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