Anne Sexton Anne Sexton (1928-1974)

                        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.

M U S I C   S W I M S
 B A C K   T O   M E

Anne Sexton - confessional, intimate, direct - her recorded voice as intriguing as William Burroughs' or Ezra Pound's - even fronted a jazz-rock band towards the end, reciting all her pretty ones to a beat.

Born in Newton, Massachusetts, in 1928 and living all of her life in or near Boston, her first book of poems, To Bedlam and Part Way Back, was published in 1960; her last, Words for Dr. Y., was published after her death, by her own hand, in 1974. She won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 1967 for Live or Die.

Ari Words

Links Along Mercy Street
  • Ari Words offers a wonderful tour through her poetry with a selection of pictures of Sexton laid beside some wonderful selections of her talent. The index page also includes this same treatment done to William S. Burroughs and Albert Camus
  • Rats Live on No Evil Star includes a rather small biography but a wonderful selection of her poetry as well as a bibliography of her work.
  • Internet Talk Radio
    • Anne Sexton, Part 4 (5.1 Meg, 10.6 min) Poet Anne Sexton reads "Rowing," "Riding the Elevator Into the Sky," "The Play," "The Rowing Endeth," "Us," and "The Touch." Sexton's poetry ranges from the frankly sensual to the frankly miserable. Her work is accessible, deeply touching -- indeed, disturbing -- and full of intricate rhymes and patterns. Sexton has remained popular with readers since her first book, "To Bedlam and Part Way Back," was published in 1960. Several volumes appeared after her death in 1974.
    • Anne Sexton, Part 3 (5.3 Meg, 11.1 min) Anne Sexton reads her poems "Divorce, Thy Name is Woman," "Gods Making a Living," "Jesus Cooks," "Jesus Walking," and "The Fury of Overshoes." Sexton's poetry speaks clearly of her most personal conflicts; "The Death Notebooks," the last work published in her lifetime, deal with the interconnecting obsessions of death, motherhood, and religion. This selection includes some of her more openly religious works. After struggling with depression for many years, Sexton took her own life in 1974 at the age of 46.
  • Modernist Conversations: Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton: Two confessional Poets- Anne Sexton, and her relationship with Sylvia Plath

		   Just once I knew what life was for. 
		   In Boston, quite suddenly, I understood; 
		   walked there along the Charles River, 
		   watched the lights copying themselves, 
		   all neoned and strobe-hearted, opening 
 		   their mouths as wide as opera singers; 
		   counted the stars, my little campaigners, 
		   my scar daisies, and knew that I walked my love 
		   on the night green side of it and cried 
		   my heart to the eastbound cars and cried 
		   my heart to the westbound cars and took 
		   my truth across a small humped bridge 
   		   and hurried my truth, the charm of it, home 
		   and hoarded these constants into morning 
		   only to find them gone. 

J U S T  O N C E