“You speak to me of narcissism but I reply that it is
a matter of my life” – Artaud

“At this time let me somehow bequeath all the leftovers
to my daughters and their daughters” – Anonymous

Better,
despite the worms talking to
the mare’s hoof in the field;
better,
despite the season of young girls
dropping their blood;
better somehow
to drop myself quickly
into an old room.
Better (someone said)
not to be born
and far better
not to be born twice
at thirteen
where the boardinghouse,
each year a bedroom,
caught fire.

Dear friend,
I will have to sink with hundreds of others
on a dumbwaiter into hell.
I will be a light thing.
I will enter death
like someone’s lost optical lens.
Life is half enlarged.
The fish and owls are fierce today.
Life tilts backward and forward.
Even the wasps cannot find my eyes.

Yes,
eyes that were immediate once.
Eyes that have been truly awake,
eyes that told the whole story-
poor dumb animals.
Eyes that were pierced,
little nail heads,
light blue gunshots.

And once with
a mouth like a cup,
clay colored or blood colored,
open like the breakwater
for the lost ocean
and open like the noose
for the first head.

Once upon a time
my hunger was for Jesus.
O my hunger! My hunger!
Before he grew old
he rode calmly into Jerusalem
in search of death.

This time
I certainly
do not ask for understanding
and yet I hope everyone else
will turn their heads when an unrehearsed fish jumps
on the surface of Echo Lake;
when moonlight,
its bass note turned up loud,
hurts some building in Boston,
when the truly beautiful lie together.
I think of this, surely,
and would think of it far longer
if I were not… if I were not
at that old fire.

I could admit
that I am only a coward
crying me me me
and not mention the little gnats, the moths,
forced by circumstance
to suck on the electric bulb.
But surely you know that everyone has a death,
his own death,
waiting for him.
So I will go now
without old age or disease,
wildly but accurately,
knowing my best route,
carried by that toy donkey I rode all these years,
never asking, “Where are we going?”
We were riding (if I’d only known)
to this.

Dear friend,
please do not think
that I visualize guitars playing
or my father arching his bone.
I do not even expect my mother’s mouth.
I know that I have died before-
once in November, once in June.
How strange to choose June again,
so concrete with its green breasts and bellies.
Of course guitars will not play!
The snakes will certainly not notice.
New York City will not mind.
At night the bats will beat on the trees,
knowing it all,
seeing what they sensed all day.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Anne Sexton's poem Suicide Note

33 Comments

  1. Matt says:

    I think that in the last stanza, Anne is trying to make the reader understand that she does not picture the afterlife to be a beautiful place that she can escape to, she does not expect people to feel remorse for her when she is gone. That’s not the point of her “suicide”. I don’t think she really states a point to her suicide, rather she states all the reasons that she ISN’T doing it.

  2. interested reader says:

    well, she did commit suicide…she actually sipped vodka in her red convertible with the garage closed until it filled up with carbon monoxide and she died of asphixiation…im doing a research paper on her for my LA class and although she was very privaleged, her father and mother sexually abused her…her closest familial relationship was to her aunt who was also chronically depressed and died of suicide as well. she had a terrible life…she also was chronically depressed, and suffered from anxiety disorder. She actually ONLY began writing because her therapist told her to…she was also a model…she is now known as one of the greatest confessional poets of her time…but those of you who believe that suicide is NOT the answer…i totally agree. There are support groups for that. =]

  3. caroline says:

    I’ve just read all your comments, and I’ve been thinking this entire time…who are we to judge another person over their oppinion of a poem no one can ever be RIGHT on? hmm… well, personally, I think suicide is not the best choice, and may seem completely irrationalto some while seeming the only way out for others. I have come close to hurting myself, but thoughts of others have always held me back. I think it depends the person and how they are feeling at the moment. The problem with suicide is it’s a mistake one cannot regret later. Well, I’m using mistake in replacement for a better word that i cannot think of. But most things in this world one can regret after they have done them. Suicide is one of the few, or possibly the only, that leaves no room for remorse or second chances.

    I think Anne Sexton in this poem is accepting the consequences of suicide, or maybe she is trying to put them in words. The phrase “Of course guitars will not play!” caught my attention because she seems almost exasperated with the reader, almost as if it is the READER that just simply cannot understand how she feels and what she means. It is a poem that can be interpretted many ways, and though there may be some religious allusions, Sexton simply does not seem to care she about religion or that she would go to hell. These are just my thoughts–everyone else is open to their own interpretations, of suicide AND of the poem. I hope my thoughts maybe gave deeper meaning to the poem, and gave all other readers some more food for thought.

    WOW I wrote an epic….awesome! sorry….I didn’t mean to write an english paper…. haha! Well… I hope everyone else enjoys this and all the other poems as much as I do!

  4. Kelsey/Tom/Arlo says:

    Amanda, you are stupid…you poopy head.

  5. Laura says:

    wow she seems pretty trobled like she had a deep deep secret i think her poems are beautiful i write poems to but never as good as hers

  6. Anna says:

    (In regards to earlier comments) I think that the poems we read will be interpreted through our own brain filters and so we will never really know what Anne means or is trying to convey through her works. However, this forum is about sharing our input and our philosophies on what’s going on in the poem. Since it is also trying to give different perspectives so that we might be able to see other sides of situation, we are all entitled to our own opinions and thoughts. Just because someone makes a comment that doesn’t suit your personal beleifs, doesn’t give you the right to yell and curse and ridicule and judge them. Please keep this in mind while posting. THANK YOU!

    Anyways, I felt as if Anne was trying to convey that she has tried to supress her sucidal thoughts but that she feels she cant hold on anymore and all she wants is that beautiful escape from life.

  7. Ernest Pena says:

    this beautiful poetry is written inside of a mind of a great writter that did commit suicide. This shows an inside look of an actual suicide victim, maybe this might show an understanding to people who do it than a just anoter statistic, and maybe this might help people not commit suicide who are on the verge too. Maybe Anne’s purpose for writting this poem was to help others or maybe she had no comprehension of helping others

  8. natalie says:

    OMG! ann shenae,this is not the room for religious discussion….perhaps you feel you must judge the mentally ill with religious bias because you are questioning your own faith….i think you’re looking for a more conservative,organized,intellectual-lacking place of a flock of sheep like you…THIS SITE’S GETTIN NUTS ON HERE AND’LL GO THE DOGS LESS YOU GUYS STOP ACTING AS IF YOU ARE ILLITERATE AND LACKING CULTURE!

  9. Ann Shenae says:

    I disagree with Leilani, How can you think suicide is ok in this case? Suicide is such a selfish way out. It’s selfish because your thinking just about yourself and not the people who have to deal with the pain when your gone. I myself was suicidal, I had A void in my heart that I could not feel. It was untill I asked Jesus Christ into my heart that he is the one who filled that void in my heart and restored my life. And no, I’m not talking about dead religion I’m talking about having a relationship with the living God. And If that made some of you mad, Well good, because suicide is murder! Yes, murder against your ownself. And the Bible says no murder will inherit the Kingdom of God. IF you murderd someone else yes their is forgiveness as long as your alive. But if you commit suicide, you kill yourself and theirs no time for repenting. So think TWICE befor you think the unthinkable. Theirs Hope in JESUS CHRIST!!!!!1

  10. jennifer says:

    I understand this poem. Anne was giving a message about death and suicide. I’ve had some problems with that myself, I’ve tried alot of things so for ppl who dont think she’s a good poet ur fucked up cuz u just don get it!!!!!11

  11. Violet says:

    I got that Anne was questioning her freedom to die once again. By once again, she meant she had attempted before. Thus, do I believe, did she have an entirely apathetic tone as to whether or not those reading took her seriously. She was trying to let us in on the secret of death and what beauty the decision held for her. Why let some omniscient hand guide your fate, when you, who know yourself more than gods can allow, can decide when is right and in what manner is most pleasing for you? For me, Anne is jealous of those who have found death in the medium of violence that suits them. She wishes she could just lay down and have her spirit leave her as it might have occurred in an ancient Hindu Tale. It’s not for any of us to judge; her or the others herein. There’s a deeper meaning we’ve all missed, and only Anne can tell.

  12. natalie says:

    u r rite abbey…i have’nt been thru a lot of wat anne has but not only hav i been thru depression + attempted suicide myself..i understand that feeling. it is so disrespectful 2 anne sexton 2 spit n the face such a gifted + very talented woman.abbey u r so immature. if u guyz r not goin 2 post post-worthy comments w/intelligentce then just shut your fucking mouthes

  13. liz says:

    great peom. shows how she feels. ive slit my wrists, over-dosed. and none of it has worked. all i know is- death is by choice, not force. suicide is the last resort for ppl seeking comfort. so dont fuckin judge us to make yrslef feel better..

  14. natalie says:

    steph is completley inaccurate—-not just bout suicide but about sexton as well.obviousley,steph u have never felt that type od paralyzing despair.+ have’nt u read anne’s bio’s,steph?she did reach 4 help—-especially many times repeatedley at mental institutions.sexton was a very ill person beyond yours or molly’s comprhension.

  15. steph says:

    I disagree with Leilani, there are so many other ways out of situations then suicide. Anne Sexton took the suckers way out, and insteed of trying to solve her problems or talk to ppl about them she killed herslf. As far as the poem goes i wouldnt say it was one of her best but it was one that expressed her deepest secret.

  16. natalie says:

    this poem is soul-baring.it really speaks 2 me.i understand how 1 can b driven 2 suicide.i understand molly’s point,but it is possiblt 2 have a break down + it’s very possible 4 1 2 snap + take their life.suicide’s avery taboo + foreighn subject 2 the optimistic who just cannot understand it.

  17. Leilani says:

    I think suicide is commited by persons who see beyond. Anne Sexton obviously did and if her suicide was the only way to make her rest, I guess it makes it kind of ok for her. Not that suicide is ok in every single case, but just in this one, I guess it was the only way out.

  18. Amanda says:

    if you’re not going to say something nice about this poem, then don’t even bother leaving anything. Stop being immature. thank you, have a nice day 🙂

  19. mary says:

    I think it is a really good poem, it shows how she really felt and the kind of person she was.She needed somenone by her side to keep going and that is what we all should do, have someone to talk to and never let depression come into our lives.

  20. molly says:

    That was a really deep poem and really sad. I posted a comment because I want people to acknowledge and recognize this chicks existance in our world. New York City may not mind, but I do and I notice and its not cool. Suicide sucks, for you and the people around you.

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