Anne Sexton (1928 - 1974)

Anne Gray Harvey was born in Newton, Massachusetts, in 1928. She attended Garland Junior College for one year and married Alfred Muller Sexton II at age nineteen. She enrolled in a modeling course at the Hart Agency and lived in San Francisco and Baltimore. In 1953 she gave birth to a daughter. In 1954 she was diagnosed with postpartum depression, suffered her first mental breakdown, and was admitted to Westwood Lodge, a neuropsychiatric hospital she would repeatedly return to for help. In 1955, following the birth of her second daughter, Sexton suffered another breakdown and was hospitalized again; her children were sent to live with her husband’s parents. That same year, on her birthday, she attempted suicide.

She was encouraged by her doctor to pursue an interest in writing poetry she had developed in high school, and in the fall of 1957 she enrolled in a poetry workshop at the Boston Center for Adult Education. In her introduction to Anne Sexton’s Complete Poems, the poet Maxine Kumin, who was enrolled with Sexton in the 1957 workshop and became her close friend, describes her belief that it was the writing of poetry that gave Sexton something to work towards and develop and thus enabled her to endure life for as long as she did. In 1974 at the age of 46, despite a successful writing career–she won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967 for Live or Die–she lost her battle with mental illness and committed suicide.

Like Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, W. D. Snodgrass (who exerted a great influence on her work), and other “confessional” poets, Sexton offers the reader an intimate view of the emotional anguish that characterized her life. She made the experience of being a woman a central issue in her poetry, and though she endured criticism for bringing subjects such as menstruation, abortion, and drug addiction into her work, her skill as a poet transcended the controversy over her subject matter.

Poems By Anne Sexton

Miscellaneous

“Daddy” Warbucks (6 Comments »)
45 Mercy Street (7 Comments »)
A Curse Against Elegies (3 Comments »)
A Story For Rose On The Midnight Flight To Boston (No Comments »)
Admonitions to a Special Person (No Comments »)
After Auschwitz (8 Comments »)
Again and Again and Again (No Comments »)
All My Pretty Ones (No Comments »)
An Obsessive Combination Of Onotological Inscape, Trickery And Love (3 Comments »)
And One For My Dame (No Comments »)
Angels Of The Love Affair (3 Comments »)
Anna Who Was Mad (11 Comments »)
As It Was Written (2 Comments »)
August 17th (1 Comment »)
August 8th (No Comments »)
Baby Picture (2 Comments »)
Barefoot (2 Comments »)
Bat (1 Comment »)
Bayonet (1 Comment »)
Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty) (8 Comments »)
Buying The Whore (12 Comments »)
Christmas Eve (3 Comments »)
Cigarettes And Whiskey And Wild, Wild Women (7 Comments »)
Cinderella (9 Comments »)
Clothes (1 Comment »)
Cockroach (4 Comments »)
Consorting With Angels (2 Comments »)
Courage (24 Comments »)
Cripples And Other Stories (No Comments »)
Crossing The Atlantic (No Comments »)
Demon (4 Comments »)
Despair (2 Comments »)
Doctors (3 Comments »)
Doors, Doors, Doors (No Comments »)
Dreaming The Breasts (2 Comments »)
Earthworm (No Comments »)
Elegy In The Classroom (No Comments »)
Elizabeth Gone (1 Comment »)
End, Middle, Beginning (1 Comment »)
Flee On Your Donkey (3 Comments »)
For God While Sleeping (2 Comments »)
For John, Who Begs Me Not To Enquire Further (7 Comments »)
For Johnny Pole On The Forgotten Beach (No Comments »)
For My Lover, Returning To His Wife (10 Comments »)
For The Year Of The Insane (1 Comment »)
Frenzy (No Comments »)
Ghosts (11 Comments »)
Gods (2 Comments »)
Going Gone (No Comments »)
Her Kind (5 Comments »)
Hornet (No Comments »)
Housewife (3 Comments »)
Hurry Up Please It’s Time (3 Comments »)
I Remember (1 Comment »)
In Excelsis (No Comments »)
In The Deep Museum (1 Comment »)
It Is A Spring Afternoon (No Comments »)
Killing The Love (13 Comments »)
Knee Song (No Comments »)
Lessons In Hunger (2 Comments »)
Live (No Comments »)
Locked Doors (1 Comment »)
Love Letter Written In A Burning Building (1 Comment »)
Lullaby (No Comments »)
More Than Myself (No Comments »)
Mr. Mine (1 Comment »)
Music Swims Back To Me (8 Comments »)
My Friend, My Friend (1 Comment »)
Noon Walk On The Asylum Lawn (1 Comment »)
Old (No Comments »)
Portrait Of An Old Woman On The College Tavern Wall (No Comments »)
Raccoon (No Comments »)
Rowing (4 Comments »)
Rumpelstiltskin (No Comments »)
Said The Poet To The Analyst (2 Comments »)
Small Wire (No Comments »)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1 Comment »)
Some Foreign Letters (No Comments »)
Suicide Note (32 Comments »)
Sylvia’s Death (6 Comments »)
That Day (No Comments »)
The Abortion (33 Comments »)
The Addict (11 Comments »)
The Ambition Bird (1 Comment »)
The Angel Food Dogs (No Comments »)
The Assassin (No Comments »)
The Author Of The Jesus Papers Speaks (5 Comments »)
The Balance Wheel (1 Comment »)
The Ballad Of The Lonely Masturbator (14 Comments »)
The Bells (6 Comments »)
The Big Boots Of Pain (No Comments »)
The Big Heart (No Comments »)
The Black Art (1 Comment »)
The Break (1 Comment »)
The Break Away (No Comments »)
The Breast (1 Comment »)
The Child Bearers (No Comments »)
The Children (No Comments »)
The Civil War (No Comments »)
The Consecrating Mother (No Comments »)
The Dead Heart (1 Comment »)
The Death Baby (No Comments »)
The Death King (2 Comments »)
The Division Of Parts (1 Comment »)
The Doctor Of The Heart (1 Comment »)
The Double Image (2 Comments »)
The Earth (No Comments »)
The Earth Falls Down (No Comments »)
The Errand (No Comments »)
The Evil Eye (No Comments »)
The Evil Seekers (1 Comment »)
The Exorcists (No Comments »)
The Expatriates (No Comments »)
The Fallen Angels (No Comments »)
The Firebombers (1 Comment »)
The Frog Prince (2 Comments »)
The Fury Of Abandonment (No Comments »)
The Fury Of God’s Good-bye (2 Comments »)
The Gold Key (No Comments »)
The Interrogation Of The Man Of Many Hearts (1 Comment »)
The Inventory Of Goodbye (1 Comment »)
The Kiss (3 Comments »)
The Legend Of The One-Eyed Man (No Comments »)
The Lost Ingredient (No Comments »)
The Moss Of His Skin (1 Comment »)
The Other (No Comments »)
The Play (1 Comment »)
The Poet Of Ignorance (2 Comments »)
The Red Dance (1 Comment »)
The Stand-Ins (No Comments »)
The Touch (No Comments »)
The Truth the Dead Know (4 Comments »)
The Twelve Dancing Princesses (No Comments »)
The Wedding Ring Dance (No Comments »)
The Wifebeater (3 Comments »)
To A Friend Whose Work Has Come To Triumph (12 Comments »)
Unknown Girl In A Maternity Ward (1 Comment »)
Us (No Comments »)
Wallflower (No Comments »)
Where It Was At Back Then (No Comments »)
Words (2 Comments »)
You, Doctor Martin (2 Comments »)

45 Mercy Street

Red Roses (9 Comments »)

All My Pretty Ones

The Starry Night (10 Comments »)
With Mercy For The Greedy (No Comments »)
Young (27 Comments »)

Live Or Die

Wanting To Die (2 Comments »)

Love Poems

Just Once (1 Comment »)

The Awful Rowing To God

When Man Enters Woman (4 Comments »)

The Awful Rowing Toward God

The Room Of My Life (4 Comments »)
The Witch’s Life (1 Comment »)

The Complete Poems

Oh (1 Comment »)

The Death Notebooks

The Fury Of Beautiful Bones (No Comments »)
The Fury Of Cocks (4 Comments »)
The Fury Of Cooks (1 Comment »)
The Fury Of Earth (1 Comment »)
The Fury Of Flowers And Worms (2 Comments »)
The Fury Of God’s Goodbye (No Comments »)
The Fury Of Guitars And Sopranos (No Comments »)
The Fury Of Hating Eyes (No Comments »)
The Fury Of Jewels And Coal (No Comments »)
The Fury Of Overshoes (2 Comments »)
The Fury Of Rainstorms (No Comments »)
The Fury Of Sundays (1 Comment »)
The Fury Of Sunrises (1 Comment »)
The Fury Of Sunsets (1 Comment »)

The Love Poems

The Nude Swim (4 Comments »)

Transformations

Rapunzel (No Comments »)
Analysis, meaning and summary of Anne Sexton's poem Rapunzel

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