The Ballad Of The Lonely Masturbator

The end of the affair is always death.
She’s my workshop. Slippery eye,
out of the tribe of myself my breath
finds you gone. I horrify
those who stand by. I am fed.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
Finger to finger, now she’s mine.
She’s not too far. She’s my encounter.
I beat her like a bell. I recline
in the bower where you used to mount her.
You borrowed me on the flowered spread.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
Take for instance this night, my love,
that every single couple puts together
with a joint overturning, beneath, above,
the abundant two on sponge and feather,
kneeling and pushing, head to head.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
I break out of my body this way,
an annoying miracle. Could I
put the dream market on display?
I am spread out. I crucify.
My little plum is what you said.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
Then my black-eyed rival came.
The lady of water, rising on the beach,
a piano at her fingertips, shame
on her lips and a flute’s speech.
And I was the knock-kneed broom instead.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
She took you the way a women takes
a bargain dress off the rack
and I broke the way a stone breaks.
I give back your books and fishing tack.
Today’s paper says that you are wed.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
The boys and girls are one tonight.
They unbutton blouses. They unzip flies.
They take off shoes. They turn off the light.
The glimmering creatures are full of lies.
They are eating each other. They are overfed.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Anne Sexton's poem The Ballad Of The Lonely Masturbator


  1. taylor says:

    I thought it was beautiful, she expresess her innermost desires and longing.Now that her huband has left her for another woman she feels she has a void, and in-short tries to fill that void and pleasure herself because like many men((andrew)), her man couldn’t quite get the job done.Therefore he felt inadequete and left her for a woman easier to please. Some men can’t handle an over bearing outspoken woman.

  2. tears says:

    you people are riddiculus, poetry is meant to express our inner feelings and thats what sexton has done in all of her work. she is very talented and just because she was depressed doesnt make her a crazy bitch it makes her a person!

  3. Madeline says:

    I agree with Andrew. And by the way, Anne Sexton had incestuous contact with her daughter and ended up killing herself. So he was right, she was a crazy bitch. I think that you people are the narrow-minded, ignorant ones.

  4. Daniel Shiskabob says:

    The only reason Andrew said that was because he himself wants to be a lonely masturbator but has yet to hit the ejaculation period of his puberty. He is still in the pre-coming stages…haha get it…

  5. jaf says:

    ignorant, close-minded, still-born, I feel bad for Andrew’s children: hopefully they can break away from his narrow worldview.

  6. Marcus says:

    dude was that a guy or a girl??
    because if it was a girl… that would be pretty hot.

  7. A.J. Tiefenthaler says:

    Your poems have greatly inspired me. I am no longer ashamed of my masturbation habits. Sometimes I masturbate to your picture. Yes, Yes, Yes.

  8. Jessica says:

    this poem is great. i absolutely loved it. i dont think anyone else can write about masturbation like anne has done in this poem.

  9. Sam says:

    First off, a big “up yours” to Andrew for furthering the cause of people who already think America is nothing but NASCAR-watching hicks who have no value culturally. Awesome. Thanks.

    As for the poem, I found it to be haunting, touching (pun intended), and not altogether about what I thought it would be about. Beautiful, beautiful work.

  10. jumpyCat says:

    Not only for freedom of speech, but just for the value of it, this actually is a good poem! I never thought someone would have or could have written a good piece of poetry about, well, masturbation. As for Andrew’s “mentally ill” remark to Anne Sexton: I read her bio a little, too. There is a difference between being mentally ill and being depressed because of the void of life. Anne Sexton was depressed to the extent that she once wrote “I cannot live this life .. Oh hell!” I perfectly understand her, we all should, since all of us just experiencing the same meaningless lullaby everday. “Such a woman is not ashamed to die / I have been her kind.”

  11. Michelle says:

    I Love this poem. I think most people can relate to it and if not Anne makes you feel like you can. I especially like the part about the other woman and how she couldn’t compare. It’s not purely about masturbation, although that’s a large part of it. But she manages to incorporate different issues into the topic, like how her man left her for another woman. I Love that about her.

    And Andrew…shut up.

  12. g says:

    she wrote so well. who else could write a moving, delicate poem about masturbation


  13. anna says:

    and i think comments like that are a punch in the face of freedom of speech and the “mentally ill”. what really degrades “this society” are narrowminded people who try to impose their limited worldview on others and can’t understand that there are different opinions and lifestyles than their own.
    all works of art speak for themselves, and are of course disputable since there are lots of different opinions and perceptions out there. but i say: respect the artist.

  14. Andrew says:

    I think that poems like this degrade our society. From what I read of Sexton’s biography on this website, she was seriously mentally ill and eventually committed a suicide. No wonder she wrote such a strange poem!

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