Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton--Words

Anne Sexton by Terri Brown-Davidson

Anne Sexton (November 9, 1928, Newton, Massachusetts–October 4, 1974, Weston, Massachusetts) was an influential American poet, known for her highly personal, confessional verse. She won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967. Themes of her poetry include her suicidal tendencies, long battle against depression, and various intimate details from her own private life, including her relationship with her husband and children. To learn more about Anne Sexton and her writings go to Voices page:



Be careful of words,
even the miraculous ones.
For the miraculous we do our best,
sometimes they swarm like insects
and leave not a sting but a kiss.
They can be as good as fingers.
They can be as trusty as the rock
you stick your bottom on.
But they can be both daisies and bruises.
Yet I am in love with words.
They are doves falling out of the ceiling.
They are six holy oranges sitting in my lap.
They are the trees, the legs of summer,
and the sun, its passionate face.
Yet often they fail me.
I have so much I want to say,
so many stories, images, proverbs, etc.
But the words aren't good enough,
the wrong ones kiss me.
Sometimes I fly like an eagle
but with the wings of a wren.
But I try to take care
and be gentle to them.
Words and eggs must be handled with care.
Once broken they are impossible
things to repair.

Anne Sexton--American



Anne Sexton

Born Anne Gray Harvey in 1928, Anne married Alfred Muller Sexton II at the age of nineteen.  After the birth of her daughter in 1953 she suffered from a mental breakdown and was encouraged to pursue writing as a form of therapy.  Though Sexton produced an impressive twelve books of poetry, and won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967 for her collection, Live or Die, she succumbed to her seemingly endless battle with mental illness and committed suicide in 1974, at the age of 46.  In her short career as a writer, Sexton taught poetry workshops at Boston University, Colgate University and Oberlin College.  The primary themes to her poetry were personal and are often termed “confessional,” similar to the works of Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath. 


After Auschwitz

as black as a hook,
overtakes me.
Each day,
each Nazi
took, at 8: 00 A.M., a baby
and sauteed him for breakfast
in his frying pan.

And death looks on with a casual eye
and picks at the dirt under his fingernail.

Man is evil,
I say aloud.
Man is a flower
that should be burnt,
I say aloud.
is a bird full of mud,
I say aloud.

And death looks on with a casual eye
and scratches his anus.

Man with his small pink toes,
with his miraculous fingers
is not a temple
but an outhouse,
I say aloud.
Let man never again raise his teacup.
Let man never again write a book.
Let man never again put on his shoe.
Let man never again raise his eyes,
on a soft July night.
Never. Never. Never. Never. Never.
I say those things aloud.

I beg the Lord not to hear.