Anne Sexton
1928-1974

The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Anne Sexton wrote poems primarily about herself and her
lifelong battles with
depression and mental illness.

She died in 1974
by suicide
at the age of
46
 

MUSIC SWIMS BACK TO ME
 

Wait Mister. Which way is home?

They turned the light out

  and the dark is moving in the corner.

      There are no sign posts in this room,

 four ladies, over eighty,

in diapers every one of them.

La la la, Oh music swims back to me

and I can feel the tune they played

the night they left me

in this private institution on a hill.
 
 

Imagine it. A radio playing

and everyone here was crazy.

I liked it and danced in a circle.

Music pours over the sense

and in a funny way

music sees more than I.

I mean it remembers better;

remembers the first night here.

It was the strangled cold of November;

even the stars were strapped in the sky

and that moon too bright

forking through the bars to stick me

with a singing in the head.

I have forgotten all the rest.
 
 

They lock me in this chair at eight a.m.

and there are no signs to tell the way,

just the radio beating to itself

and the song that remembers

more than I. Oh, la la la,

this music swims back to me.

The night I came I danced a circle

and was not afraid.

Mister?
 
 
 

THE BLACK ART
 
 

A woman who writes feels too much,

those trances and portents!

As if cycles and children and islands

weren't enough; as if mourners and gossips

and vegetables were never enough.

She thinks she can warn the stars.

A writer is essentially a spy.

Dear love, I am that girl.
 
 

A man who writes knows too much,

such spells and fetiches!

As if erections and congresses and products

weren't enough; as if machines and galleons

and wars were never enough.

With used furniture he makes a tree.

A writer is essentially a crook.

Dear love, you are that man.
 
 

Never loving ourselves,

hating even our shoes and our hats,

we love each other, precious , precious .

Our hands are light blue and gentle.

Our eyes are full of terrible confessions.

But when we marry,

the children leave in disgust.

There is too much food and no one left over

to eat up all the weird abundance.
 
 
 

THE KISS
 
 

My mouth blooms like a cut.

I've been wronged all year, tedious

nights, nothing but rough elbows in them

and delicate boxes of Kleenex calling crybaby

crybaby , you fool ! 
 
 

Before today my body was useless.

Now it's tearing at its square corners.

It's tearing old Mary's garments off, knot by knot

and see -- Now it's shot full of these electric bolts.

Zing! A resurrection!
 
 

Once it was a boat, quite wooden

and with no business, no salt water under it

and in need of some paint. It was no more

than a group of boards. But you hoisted her, rigged her.

She's been elected.
 
 

My nerves are turned on. I hear them like

musical instruments. Where there was silence

the drums, the strings are incurably playing. You did this.

Pure genius at work. Darling, the composer has stepped

into fire.
 
 
 

 
 
 

 

 

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