A young man is afraid of his demon and puts his hand
over the demon’s mouth sometimes…
— D. H. Lawrence

I mentioned my demon to a friend
and the friend swam in oil and came forth to me
greasy and cryptic
and said,
“I’m thinking of taking him out of hock.
I pawned him years ago.”

Who would buy?
The pawned demon,
Yellowing with forgetfulness
and hand at his throat?
Take him out of hock, my friend,
but beware of the grief
that will fly into your mouth like a bird.

My demon,
too often undressed,
too often a crucifix I bring forth,
too often a dead daisy I give water to
too often the child I give birth to
and then abort, nameless, nameless…

Oh demon within,
I am afraid and seldom put my hand up
to my mouth and stitch it up
covering you, smothering you
from the public voyeury eyes
of my typewriter keys.
If I should pawn you,
what bullion would they give for you,
what pennies, swimming in their copper kisses
what bird on its way to perishing?

I accept you,
you come with the dead who people my dreams,
who walk all over my desk
(as in Mother, cancer blossoming on her
Best & Co. tits–
waltzing with her tissue paper ghost)
the dead, who give sweets to the diabetic in me,
who give bolts to the seizure of roses
that sometimes fly in and out of me.
I accept you, demon.
I will not cover your mouth.
If it be man I love, apple laden and foul
or if it be woman I love, sick unto her blood
and its sugary gasses and tumbling branches.

Demon come forth,
even if it be God I call forth
standing like a carrion,
wanting to eat me,
starting at the lips and tongue.
And me wanting to glide into His spoils,
I take bread and wine,
and the demon farts and giggles,
at my letting God out of my mouth
anonymous woman
at the anonymous altar.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Anne Sexton's poem Demon


  1. Ambiez says:

    Aww, what’s wrong, Americans can’t take a little healthy criticism of their poetry? I thought you guys were big into freedom of speech, healthy debate, dissent, discourse.

    I’m not going to kiss up to something I don’t like, and you shouldn’t stifle the ideals this country was supposedly founded on, either – like every individual’s ability to speak their mind, even if they’re in the minority.

    Anne Sexton’s poetry is on par with a middle schooler’s. Period.

  2. Fake Eye says:

    It is a great poem,yet another glimpse at the seething red waters that lie beneath our collective surface.The Demon is brought up and shown to us clearly,yet we are not allowed-nay,deliberately prevented from viewing it in starkky terrifying aspect.Instead it glides away on a wave of psychosexual connotations culminating in a brief gush of God-commonization/demystification…Yet we are left with a nebulous though definite sense of having been ever so slightly deceived,a feeling that the terrors of the demon have been thinly veiled…

  3. Elizabethan Shakespear says:

    This poem was fantastic. I was drawn in at the way Anne portrayed her bravery. The smallest details, such as the way it flew into her mouth like a bird, really make the poem. Her words seem to penetrate elegance and beauty, even on the topic of her own demon.

  4. gabriewl says:

    god i loved that poem…it was beautiful…i write poetry of my own…maybe i could show you some…e-mail me…loved the poem

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