with capsules in my palms each night,
eight at a time from sweet pharmaceutical bottles
I make arrangements for a pint-sized journey.
I’m the queen of this condition.
I’m an expert on making the trip
and now they say I’m an addict.
Now they ask why.

Don’t they know that I promised to die!
I’m keeping in practice.
I’m merely staying in shape.
The pills are a mother, but better,
every color and as good as sour balls.
I’m on a diet from death.

Yes, I admit
it has gotten to be a bit of a habit-
blows eight at a time, socked in the eye,
hauled away by the pink, the orange,
the green and the white goodnights.
I’m becoming something of a chemical
that’s it!
My supply
of tablets
has got to last for years and years.
I like them more than I like me.
It’s a kind of marriage.
It’s a kind of war where I plant bombs inside
of myself.
I try
to kill myself in small amounts,
an innocuous occupation.
Actually I’m hung up on it.
But remember I don’t make too much noise.
And frankly no one has to lug me out
and I don’t stand there in my winding sheet.
I’m a little buttercup in my yellow nightie
eating my eight loaves in a row
and in a certain order as in
the laying on of hands
or the black sacrament.
It’s a ceremony
but like any other sport
it’s full of rules.
It’s like a musical tennis match where
my mouth keeps catching the ball.
Then I lie on; my altar
elevated by the eight chemical kisses.
What a lay me down this is
with two pink, two orange,
two green, two white goodnights.
Now I’m borrowed.
Now I’m numb.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Anne Sexton's poem The Addict


  1. özgür says:

    I really liked it a lot. Very descriptive and emotional….

  2. Ezra says:

    Well I was sent here to read this poem by a friend. I have a similar poem called “I’m an Addict” If you try to read to much into a poem you might only understand the words that are written. My poem is in no way about drugs but where I live drugs are a big problem. So I figured if i wrote about drugs it would reach more people. I could touch and hopefully help someone. Well I guess what I am trying to say is sometimes its hard to see forrest through the trees. Much Love,

  3. madie says:

    jennifer is such a ho
    anne is not saying drugs are good
    she is saying she is grateful for the drugs because they make her able to live her life, but she knows that they cannot save her

  4. sakshi says:

    This poem seems to be about the ceremony she engages in by killing her in small amounts. This isn’t something only special to her, or to drug addicts. I suppose she wants to point out the concept of the little deaths that grieve us, and yet, having become numb to them, we would not live without them…

  5. Samana says:

    well, i think she sure is talking about her personal experience, the delight..the numbness she is receiving couldnt have happened to her unless she wouldnt have experienced it herself…i know she didnt die of drugs but we should not forget the fact that she was suffering from mental illness…and that perhaps(partly sure) would haf forced her to take drugs because when she mentions…’/eight chemical kisses ‘Plus’ the pink, the orange,
    the green and the white goodnights\’…they clearly sound the tablets …which no therapist on earth would suggest his patient to take just to escape the psychological depression…so obviously she is talkin about the doze which she used to take before she could go on her so called Trip…! Also people who do not favour her good opinion for addicts should read this poem again which clearly informs its readers about the positive views of Sexton for the drug Addicts!

    Sexton was no doubt a wonderful poet but sometimes wonderful people dont end up with wonderful decisions and so is with her…

    Thats just my opinion thanks!

  6. Tom says:

    If coffee came in the form of pills, I could definitely relate. Actually, I have little caffeine pills. I ate a whole bottle once. They certainly won’t kill you. They had an ‘interesting’ effect on me.

    I haven’t seen a reference to “laying on of hands” since I played a paladin in EverQuest 😀

  7. kate says:

    im not entirly sure because sextons work is new to me (im doing a school presentation) and i think this poem is in relation to her own experiences.. she tried to kill herself and later did

  8. Lainey says:

    Natalie I agree with you. And Jennifer a good poet will make you understand what they are talking about. You do not have to personally go through what the poem is about. This isn’t a share my sob story board. I haven’t personally experienced what Anne Sexton wrote about it but she is a good poet I can feel what she feels, especially in this poem.

  9. natalie says:

    jennifer my child i was MOST DEFINITLEY NOT insulting anne sexton…i was giving my analysis on her poem..i am a huge fan of sexton but i do not think she meant for that poem to encourage drug abuse…shes mentioning how addictive drugs are and i strongly believe she feels they are self destructive as well…jennifer altho drugs may make you feel better it is not the way to live because i have been there myself and drugs ruined my life..anne sexton acknowledges this and speaks rather profoundly of drug addiction instead of immaturely and child-like as so many addicts do

  10. Jennifer Nicole says:

    hey I loooooooove this poem cuz it relates to my life so much, cuz I started poppin pillz and now i just cant stop doing it, tha trips are just so great and it helps u too get away from this hell today, so i totally one hundred percent agree with anne on this poem. Oh and Natalie, I wouldnt be talken shit bout anne’s poems cuz u probly aint got a fucked up life to understand this poem, she’s sayin how she has to get away and have like a good trip to get away from all this bull shit today okay so shut tha fuck up unless u know what shes talken about k

    i’m out love jen

  11. natalie says:

    ”the addict” is a very,very intense + personal poem of sexton’s.drugs r like demons-literally.they hurt so many-more than the actual user.however-in sexton’s case-anne wuz’nt your average addict.she abused drugs 2 fill a void.i think she’s speaking actually more of the psych than actual addiction.

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