Dette emne er markeret som "i hvile"—det seneste indlæg er mere end 90 dage gammel. Du kan vække emnet til live ved at poste et indlæg.
I'm working through To Bedlam and Part Way Back (1960), which I believe is her first book of poetry. One queston is about "Elizabeth Gone" and "Some Foreign Letters." Does anyone know who the subjects of these poems are?
When I think of her, I can't help humming that gorgeous, moving Peter Gabriel song "Mercy Street".
Now I'll bet I have YOU humming it for the rest of the day...
Anne Sexton's works is with the books published during her lifetime.
"Mercy Street" is on Peter Gabriel's "So" album, which sold gazillions of copies thanks to the appeal of the single "Sledgehammer". There's also a lovely duet that Gabriel performs with the magnificent Kate Bush ("Don't Give Up") but, in my view, "Mercy Street" is the best song on the album. Haunting and it really does evoke the spirit of Sexton's work...
Here, I just dug a version of "Mercy Street" off YouTube--I can't figure out how to do a link on LibraryThing (I've told you previously I am technologically challenged) but paste this in your subject line and it will take you there. Enjoy, kiddo:
Back to Anne. I like the idea of starting from the beginning of her published works, so I can see the evolution, not that I'm any poetry expert.
MarianV, the volume I have is The Complete Poems published by Houghton-Mifflin in 1981. It includes all published books plus the posthumous 45 Mercy Street and Words for Dr. Y.
I'm really struck by "Her Kind":
I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.
I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.
I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.
This poem...I bet it calls out to unusual women everywhere. I'm wondering about the "driver." Could it be an allusion to Dickinson's "Because I Could Not Stop for Death"? I love the "warm caves" bit, the image of this outcast(?) who goes and outfits this cave and "rearranging the disaligned."
It is so sad, Sexton's death obsession is clear from her earliest works. How could anyone recover from that?
"Unknown Girl in the Maternity Ward" could be the most brutal poem I've ever read.
Thanks, everyone, for adding your experiences to this reading experience. :-)
Edited for coherence.
"I have ridden in your cart, driver..."
I wonder if she is referring to the custom of bearing condemned prisoners through the streets of a town or city in a tumbrel or cart before taking them to a place of execution. Especially when seen in the context of the "flames still bite my thigh" and "my ribs crack where the wheels wind".
Lovely, troubling poem--Sexton is never an easy read.
I agree re: your remarks on her death obsession--some people you just know are not meant to live out their full three score and ten...
Hey, don't take my opinion as gospel, that's what makes poetry so wonderful to me, it can be examined from a thousand different angles and each one is as relevant as the next. Cripes, now I sound like a post-modernist (somebody give me a slap)....
Not that it was beautiful,
but that, in the end, there was
a certain sense of order there;
something worth learning
in that narrow diary of my mind,
in the commonplaces of the asylum
where the cracked mirror
or my own selfish death
And if I tried
to give you something else,
something outside of myself,
you would not know
that the worst of anyone
can be, finally,
an accident of hope.
I tapped my own head;
it was a glass, an inverted bowl.
It is a small thing
to rage in your own bowl.
At first it was private.
Then it was more than myself;
it was you, or your house
or your kitchen.
And if you turn away
because there is no lesson here
I will hold my awkward bowl,
with all its cracked stars shining
like a complicated lie,
and fasten a new skin around it
as if I were dressing an orange
or a strange sun.
Not that it was beautiful,
but that I found some order there.
There ought to be something special
in this kind of hope.
This is something I would never find
in a lovelier place, my dear,
although your fear is anyone's fear,
like an invisible veil between us all...
and sometimes in private,
my kitchen, your kitchen,
my face, your face.
This is the poem out of To Bedlam and Part Way Back that speaks to me the most. I read--I don't know if it's accurate--that this poem was in response to a writing teacher's desire that Anne not write about all her dark and womanly stuff.
It is a small thing/to rage in your own bowl. This line hits me in that place where I rage in my own bowl. That trapped feeling. All of these thoughts and intensity and no outlet. God, I admire this woman's bravery, to expose herself as she does. That's a challenge in my own writing: I get scared when I expose myself, although I know that's probably where the writing is good and meaningful and original.
There ought to be something special/for someone/in this kind of hope.
Does anyone know the significance of "an orange or a strange sun"? That bit of color jumps out at me, and I'm not sure of the reference. Why orange?
Since the middle 1970's, i've carried 3 books with me, making sure they are always within reach, one of them , Anne's "Love Poems." and if i had to pick 10 poems as the best i've ever read, this would be one of them:
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
And Tim ... wow. Anne definately deserves the applause. But now I wonder, what are the other two books you keep with you at all times within easy reach, do tell!
villandry, I was wondering why the use of two orange-colored circles (discs, globes), the orange and the sun, in juxtaposition with the clear globe, the bowl that is her head. Those lines puzzle me. The hazards of poetry...some things we'll never know.
Edited for preposition exchange. Silly prepositions.
not to shift the mood from Anne Sexton, but my other 2 books are Neruda's "The Captains Verses" and John Berryman's "The Dream Songs".
i'm shaking my head. life's definitely been strange. coulda been worse, i guess. i could have been published. probably would have killed myself hanggliding.
I love listening to recordings of poets/writers reading from their work. I've got a really old double LP of Dylan Thomas reading. And I don't have a record player, took me ages to find someone to put it on tape for me. Thomas was an excellent reader--his readings/ performances must have been something (live).
One of these days I'll join the rest of the world and get hooked up with this iPod and portable music technology. I'm a music lover and I'm wayyy behind the times...
For me, it is the image of Anne holding out her inverted bowl to this unknown being that is most striking. The orange that comes and goes on this discussion was chosen, as far as I am concerned, on the basis of it being a fruit easily skinned. The peel is the ¨dressing¨ that Anne uses to make her poems pretty (yes, an ¨All My Pretty Ones¨ reference). Raging in one´s own bowl is different to twisting your bowl to go outwards and face the people, so that it may form shapes of physical things such as kitchens. To turn out a bowl is the pain this most lovely woman experienced to give us these poems. In celebration to her genius, I have read her complete poems time and again. It has no place on my bookshelf, but one beside my bed. Anne is one woman who is always welcome there.
Somebody else asks about ¨Elizabeth Gone,¨ and I have confirmation that Elizabeth was an alter-ego created by Anne who would do all the immoral things that Anne wouldn´t. This makes the reading of the poem much more powerful, and quite brilliant. Who else could address a goodbye poem to a twin that they had invented and believed in?
That is a serious question, I would love to read another poet with such topics.
And, oktsar, thanks for the info on "Elizabeth Gone"; gives it a different feel.
Sorry mate, I have never liked my generations music (and I am a real BB. DOB: 17/01/47)
OK Baez and Hoyt Axton are good, but deep purple and other wankers of that ilk...
And let there be ROCKS thrown from ON HIGH PLACES and may the heathen known as guido be cast out hence..
Sorry, this link was good a few minutes ago, now
irrelevant. See what I mean, BAH HUMBUG...
What happened to Tim Watkinson.
He posted that Magic poem in #19.
I went to see who he was, and was told he
Guido is curious...