Somebody who should have been born
is gone.

Just as the earth puckered its mouth,
each bud puffing out from its knot,
I changed my shoes, and then drove south.

Up past the Blue Mountains, where
Pennsylvania humps on endlessly,
wearing, like a crayoned cat, its green hair,

its roads sunken in like a gray washboard;
where, in truth, the ground cracks evilly,
a dark socket from which the coal has poured,

Somebody who should have been born
is gone.

the grass as bristly and stout as chives,
and me wondering when the ground would break,
and me wondering how anything fragile survives;

up in Pennsylvania, I met a little man,
not Rumpelstiltskin, at all, at all…
he took the fullness that love began.

Returning north, even the sky grew thin
like a high window looking nowhere.
The road was as flat as a sheet of tin.

Somebody who should have been born
is gone.

Yes, woman, such logic will lead
to loss without death. Or say what you meant,
you coward…this baby that I bleed.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Anne Sexton's poem The Abortion

33 Comments

  1. Blank says:

    Anne Sexton was against abortion. However, she did have one. the reason many speculate that it was to do with the fact that it was to become the thrid child, which has deep psychological issues for her as she was the thrid child and felt abandoned and unloved. She may have been against abortion but due to her mental issues it over-ridded the fact she was against them as she would never want to produce a thrid child.

  2. Michele says:

    You shouldn’t bring a baby to the world if you know you don’t want it.So i agree with the poem someway.I’m selfish so i wouldn’t want someone else to have my baby.Everybody makes mistakes and u have a choice.

  3. Whitney Bell says:

    Sexton suffered severe postpartum depression after the births of each of her two children, and the children went to live with their father’s parents after the second breakdown. Sexton later lost her battle with bipolar disorder and took her own life.

  4. Kelsey says:

    Abortions should not happen…..They are really bad… I could understand If you was raped or something like that. But just because you dont want the baby.. Dont go kill It cause of your mistakes…

  5. Chelsea says:

    abortions are bad.
    they should be illegal.
    they are not right.

  6. DC says:

    The question of ‘When does life begin?’ is silly. Life is continuous. The cells and bacteria and microbes of our world are all considered life, albeit a primitive prokaryotic existence. But there is no end to the life of cells inside a woman. One egg, one cell, one life takes in organic matter and produces a fetus and eventually a baby. But the life is there from the start.

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m pro choice. But this question is not a wall to hide behind. If you kill a baby, you take it’s life. Whether it’s justified or not is strictly up to the mother because only we can know ourselves.

    No one else can say with any certainty that we would have been good or bad. When it comes down to the decision, YOU have to make it and you have to make it based on the feeling you know deep in the empty, hollow part of your stomach, right underneath your ribcage, to be right.

  7. Kat says:

    Bringing life into the world is suppose to be a glorious thing so Anne describes the world as being somewhat sharp and dark after denying the world one life. This poem reveals the emotional distress that Anne went through from her abortion and from the tone of the poem, it seems like she regretted hers. I don’t really think it’s a statement against abortion but for one who is so analytical and observant of life, it must be hard to bear the guilt and regret of abandoning a life. The last stanza sounds most anti-abortion but I think it’s her saying that she realized that she did kill what was meant to be her child and even though there’s debate to when it’s actually a considered a human, no matter what you call it, her baby should have been born and it was her fault. I’m pro-choice but this poem is very raw and I love it. I think the grief of having an abortion would be too overwhelming for me so I don’t think I would choose to have one but everyone’s situation is different and I think it would be just as hard to choose whether to keep the baby or to have an abortion.

  8. delores jones says:

    Anne expresses the brutal truth of abortion…as her baby bleed away, so too did Anne’s soul. The act of Abortion never stops killing; the death never ends and living afterwards never finds the brightness of the Sun.

  9. Gemma says:

    I don’t think this poem is about the opinion of abortion as much as the pain it causes. Now yeah I know no two people are alike and some may hurt and others may not, but look past that will you? Look into the heart of the poem instead of the controversy of the issue. She obviously hurt and that was her expression, the poem was her way of letting it out. Please all I ask is that you look past your personal biases and embrace the beauty, passion, pain, emotions of this poem. Embrace it as a gorgeous work of art, not as a political view. If you do it will be beautiful to you too.

  10. CLAIRE says:

    I FOUND THE POEM TO BE INCREDIBLE POWERFUL AND I THINK ANNE SEXTONIS A TREMENDOUS WRITTER.

  11. grumpy says:

    listen……
    i had an abortion!!!!!!
    that doesnt make me a murderer i was only 14 years old when i got pregnant!!!!~~~~
    it was the only choice i felt i had!!!!~
    i felt it was a much better choice than giving him or her a fucked up life!!!!~
    yes now i feel regret twoards the abortion but what can i do!!!!~
    but nobody in this world has the right to tell a woman that if she has an abortion she is a murderer!!!~
    its so fuckin different when its you going through it all!!!~
    thats all i have to say

  12. QUINTIN says:

    HOW CAN I GET WITH A GIRL WHO DONT LIKE
    ME AND I LOVE HER AND I LIKE AND SHE HAVE A
    BOY FRIEND AND HOW CAN I GET HER PHONE NUMBER
    AND CAN YOU SEND ME A LETTER FOR SO I CAN TELL
    HER.CAN YOU WRITE IT WITHOUT HER BOYFRIEND KNOWING
    THANKS

    LOVE ALWAY QUINTIN

  13. Erin says:

    you cant really use this poem to justify whether Anne Sexton was for or against Abortion. She wasnt trying to make a statement, thats not the kind of poet she was. Anne Sexton wrote confessional poetry. This just shows how she felt with her abortion…. what you personaly take from the peom is what makes it for or against abortion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by Anne Sexton better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.