Cigarettes And Whiskey And Wild, Wild Women

(from a song)

Perhaps I was born kneeling,
born coughing on the long winter,
born expecting the kiss of mercy,
born with a passion for quickness
and yet, as things progressed,
I learned early about the stockade
or taken out, the fume of the enema.
By two or three I learned not to kneel,
not to expect, to plant my fires underground
where none but the dolls, perfect and awful,
could be whispered to or laid down to die.

Now that I have written many words,
and let out so many loves, for so many,
and been altogether what I always was-
a woman of excess, of zeal and greed,
I find the effort useless.
Do I not look in the mirror,
these days,
and see a drunken rat avert her eyes?
Do I not feel the hunger so acutely
that I would rather die than look
into its face?
I kneel once more,
in case mercy should come
in the nick of time.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Anne Sexton's poem Cigarettes And Whiskey And Wild, Wild Women


  1. minerva astoria says:

    what sexton expressed in this poetry is true., there are times in your life where things would have to be just like was.,

  2. Dan says:

    Sexton is expressing the anguish which I think most passionate people feel, over the raw bruising nature of the world. The essence of poetry, I think, is honesty, and that is one of the most difficult things for any writer to achieve. I think Sexton has done so in this poem, which makes it a rare, powerful, and difficult work.

    In her naivete, Krystal asks an interesting question: “Are words worth pain?” I think the answer is “Yes;” indeed, words are the most valuable things we have, because words are what distinguishes us from all other living things. But the question is really backwards, because the pain comes first; the words are a response to the pain, and indeed may be all that makes the pain bearable.

  3. Niina says:

    Although I´m not the greatest fan of autobiographical literature, there´s something alluring in this poem. Sexton writes truthfully, I guess. To the ones that question the worth of writing: it is argued that Sexton lived longer because of her writing. The pain comes first. Then the poetry.

  4. Christine says:

    I think you’re all idiots this was the stupidest poem i ever read.. i hate poetry, the only good poetry is the stuff i write… goodbye cruel world….!

  5. Ernest says:

    You took the words right out of my mouth Eryka! Poetry is about what comes from the deepest part of your inner soul, mind, mentality, and HEART! It doesn’t have to be your run of the mil middleschool creative writting class……………………Yet another beautiful poem written by my new favorite poet

  6. eryka says:

    Krystal is an idiot. She can’t spell and I really doubt she understood the poem. But what can you expect? She’s from Canada. I think that was a great poem and not all poems have to be about butterflies and flowers to be worth reading.

  7. Krystal says:

    i cannt even imagian what was going though annes head as she wronte this, i love poetry but it soul it requires to write it is so disterbed. That I’m not sure that its worth it, are words worth pain?

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