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Analysis and comments on Words by Anne Sexton

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Comment 1 of 251, added on May 22nd, 2007 at 7:39 PM.

When saying, “The joy isn’t shared dies young,” (Sexton 20) Anne Sexton
pinpoints life. Those who are well nourished with joy, love, and happiness
more likely live longer, healthier, lives. Studies and several accounts
have shown that those who do not lead such lives face harsh futures. Anne
Sexton, herself, knew and lived the painful reality of an abusive
relationship growing up with her parents. Through the use of symbolism,
Anne Sexton develops explains her suffering life in her poem “Words”.
“Some times they swarm like insects, and leave not a sting but a kiss.”
(L4-6) These lines intend to very powerful describe the fickle
personalities of Sexton’s parents. Sexton uses the swarming insects to
represent physical abuse her had to undergo. Because of the frequency of
the abuse, she thought of it as a display of emotion, like a kiss would be
in normal households. Symbolism can be identified within the lines, “They
can be as good as fingers. They can be as trusty as the rock you stick
your bottom on” (L6-8). No child wants to accept parental hostile
behavior. Sexton always feared to speaking out and being abandoned by her
parents. Sexton’s grandmother, whom she referred to as “Nana” was her
savior. Nana helped and guided Sexton all she could, as a parent should.
“But they can be both daisies and bruises,” (L9) represents Sexton’s
unstable home environment. The most stable part, shown as a sweet,
tranquil daisy, refers to Nana. Her parents, the bruises, not only left
physically on Sexton but appeared everlasting and corruptive to her soul.
“Yet I am in love words,” (L10) expresses the conflicting feelings of a
child.
Anne Sexton lived from 1928 to 1974, a time much different from today,
where rebelling from parents under any circumstances considered wrong.
Abuse cases were not brought to the attention of others and remained
unspoken. Anne Sexton speaks out, expressing her pain, using the example
of words, stating, “Yet often they fail me” (L15). Her parents abuse
before love and fail to meet her needs. When finally she gains the
courage, “I have so much I want to say, so many stories images, proverbs,
but the words aren’t good enough, the wrong ones kiss me,” (L16-19) Sexton
questions her decision to speak out. “Sometimes I fly like an eagle, with
the wings of a wren,” expresses her eagerness to do so, but her cowardness
holds her back, as wren’s wings would if it were to fly.
The conclusion of “Words” sums up the majority of Anne Sexton’s life. An
impacting life lesson was taught by her Nana, “But I try to take care and
be gentle to them,” (L22-23) who made an effort to nourish her and rid her
dysfunctional, abusive family. “Words and eggs must be handled with care.
Once broken they are impossible things to repair,” (L25-26) explains
Sexton’s advice to all readers. She compares words, or children, to eggs,
which are very fragile. The image of a broken egg can be drawn and helps
drive across a strong point of once broken, they can never be repaired,
much like a child’s emotions.
Anne Sexton discovered this the hard way when years of facing abusive drove
her to see a therapist regularly. The death of her Nana, the only one she
saw truly care for her sent Sexton over the edge. During this tragic time
for Sexton, her therapist encouraged her to write, producing thousands of
poems symbolic and educational for readers. Anne Sexton faced years of
hardship attempting to repair the emotional scars, and burdens of her
childhood, but lost her battle. She committed suicide, freeing herself from
her haunting past. The lack of joy and harmony in childhood ripped Anne
Sexton of a long, healthy life.


Kristie from United States

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Information about Words

Poet: Anne Sexton
Poem: Words
Added: May 22 2003
Viewed: 1017 times


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