Anne Sexton


Anne Sexton
Anne Sexton was born in Newton, Massachusetts, in 1928, and grew up in Wellesley where Sylvia Plath spent her childhood, too. Anne Sexton lived most of her life in Weston. Frustrated as a housewife and mother in suburban Boston and plagued by mental problems including suicidal obsessions, Sexton, beautiful, intense, and gifted, began writing poetry at age 29 on the advice of her therapist. Plath and Sexton attended a poetry class with Robert Lowell in the summer of 1959. Anne Sexton died at her own hand in 1974.
More information on the relationship between Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath can be found at the homepage of Modernist Conversations.
On this page here you can find two poems by Anne Sexton that were inspired by Sylvia Plath, or rather by her suicide:


A very good source of information on Anne Sexton, including many more of her poems, can be found at http://www-leland.stanford.edu/~jenkg/Sexton/sexton.html.




Sylvia's Death

for Sylvia Plath

O Sylvia, Sylvia,
with a dead box of stones and spoons,

with two children, two meteors
wandering loose in a tiny playroom,

with your mouth into the sheet,
into the roofbeam, into the dumb prayer,

(Sylvia, Sylvia
where did you go
after you wrote me
from Devonshire
about rasing potatoes
and keeping bees?)

what did you stand by,
just how did you lie down into?

Thief --
how did you crawl into,

crawl down alone
into the death I wanted so badly and for so long,

the death we said we both outgrew,
the one we wore on our skinny breasts,

the one we talked of so often each time
we downed three extra dry martinis in Boston,

the death that talked of analysts and cures,
the death that talked like brides with plots,

the death we drank to,
the motives and the quiet deed?

(In Boston
the dying
ride in cabs,
yes death again,
that ride home
with our boy.)

O Sylvia, I remember the sleepy drummer
who beat on our eyes with an old story,

how we wanted to let him come
like a sadist or a New York fairy

to do his job,
a necessity, a window in a wall or a crib,

and since that time he waited
under our heart, our cupboard,

and I see now that we store him up
year after year, old suicides

and I know at the news of your death
a terrible taste for it, like salt,

(And me,
me too.
And now, Sylvia,
you again
with death again,
that ride home
with our boy.)

And I say only
with my arms stretched out into that stone place,

what is your death
but an old belonging,

a mole that fell out
of one of your poems?

(O friend,
while the moon's bad,
and the king's gone,
and the queen's at her wit's end
the bar fly ought to sing!)

O tiny mother,
you too!
O funny duchess!
O blonde thing!

February 17, 1963




Wanting to Die

Since you ask, most days I cannot remember.
I walk in my clothing, unmarked by that voyage.
Then the most unnameable lust returns.

Even then I have nothing against life.
I know well the grass blades you mention
the furniture you have placed under the sun.

But suicides have a special language.
Like carpenters they want to know which tools.
They never ask why build.

Twice I have so simply declared myself
have possessed the enemy, eaten the enemy,
have taken on his craft, his magic.

In this way, heavy and thoughtful,
warmer than oil or water,
I have rested, drooling at the mouth-hole.

I did not think of my body at needle point.
Even the cornea and the leftover urine were gone.
Suicides have already betrayed the body.

Still-born, they don't always die,
but dazzled, they can't forget a drug so sweet
that even children would look on and smile.

To thrust all that life under your tongue! --
that, all by itself, becomes a passion.
Death's a sad bone; bruised, you'd say,

and yet she waits for me, year and year,
to so delicately undo an old would,
to empty my breath from its bad prison.

Balanced there, suicides sometimes meet,
raging at the fruit, a pumped-up moon,
leaving the bread they mistook for a kiss,

leaving the page of a book carelessly open,
something unsaid, the phone off the hook
and the look, whatever it was, an infection.

February 3, 1964



You can order the following books/tapes online at Amazon.com:

a cassette with Anne Sexton reading her poetry
(poems included are Her Kind/Divorce, Thy Name Is Woman/Little Girl, My String Bean, My Lovely Woman and others)

The Complete Poems
Published by Houghton Mifflin, Paperback, 622 pages

Anne Sexton : A Biography by Diane Wood Middlebrook
Published by Random House 1992, Paperback, 498 pages