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.

  14. Ellen says:

    For those of you who are using this poem as a means to justify your views on abortion, do think about these questions:1) are you absolutely sure that someone who is pregnant at 2,3,4,6 weeks has a ‘baby’ ready to be born? 2) after 9 months of pregnancy, do you think it is easy enough to put a child you just gave birth do for adoption? easy enough for you to preach about what all women in this world should do? 3) what if a woman who wants a baby gets pregnant but has no family, no money, no man, no one to help support it? what advice would you righteous women give to her?

  15. Heather says:

    You have no clue what she was thinking at the time so don’t even try to tell us what she was thinking or how you think she was so teribly wrong. Peotry is personal. peotry is meant to be individual. so lets keep it that way.

  16. Brittiney says:

    I know that when i was a little girl I thought it would be great get married and have children. I have always been so against abortion that it isnt even funny. But when I got pregnant I wanted to have my baby I loved it more than life its self. My mom was okay with it she was mad but she got over it and she loved it too. But then i told my boyfriend and he was okay too. well then he told his dad he flipped and started screaming at him he gave him 5 hundred dollars to go and get me an abortion. I cried I felt so alone.. But i thought that if i loved him that i would do it for him.. so i did… and taking your babys life is the worst thing you can ever feel so please dont get any abortions because it is awful. and you feel like you died along with the baby and its your fault and its just like murdering someone i will never feel the same

  17. kristi gill says:

    Did she in fact molest her own children? Where is this documented?

  18. angela walker says:

    the poem is a comment on the overwhelming burden women have in childbearing and rearing — it seems somewhat obvious in her comment that she doesn’t understand how anything fragile survives. of course, fragile things survive because someone cares for them. if sexton didn’t feel like she could care for a fragile thing, then perhaps she didn’t feel that abortion was any more morally wrong then bringing a child into the world that she couldn’t deal with emotionally. after all, she sexually molested her other two children. to say that there is a being that should have been born is to allude to the other things in her life that should have happened but didn’t, or, rather, should not have happened, including the emotional trauma she’d experienced which may or may not have led to her abusing her born children.

  19. Anon says:

    This is a poetry site. The comments are not here for simple-minded people to spew ill-thought-out rhetoric. They are here so you can actualy use your mind and comment on the poem, for example, the contrast between the last few lines and the rest of the poem. See, that was an EASY useless comment, but at least it’s about the freakin’ poem.

  20. kelsea says:

    i am so against abortion it is harsh. I mean just going and killing some innocent sweet baby so that your parents dont get upset with you. Put it up for adoption not that your a mean person but imagine if it was you.
    p.s. think about it

  21. Amanda says:

    First of all, this poem is great. Second to all of you who think it’s about getting an abortion thats fine, and it kinda is, but i think that it’s more about the child that was meant to live and was meant to have a porpus. I think she regrets what she did, whatever the reason may have ben. I am not saying any thing in regards to the poem when i say this but, i am not for adoption. If anyone is reading this statement and is having a hard time with a baby that is on the way, please listen to me. You may think right now that the best way out is abortion and to me it’s almost the wost thing you could do (to me). A better way for you and the baby is to have it a put it up for adoption. You can still have your life and so can YOUR childs. I caped the your because you are the one who got yourself into this mess, and if it wasn’t your fault and you were forced im sorry i said that. If you were forced contact someone and tell them about it, but the child still diserves to live a have a life of its own, Don’t you think so? if you think being adopted is a bad thing its not! Take from someone who is adopted and hasn’t seen her mom in almost a year, i wouldn’t trade any of my life for anything. My real mom is my very best friend, but recently went to jail and a year is a long time , but i love her and nothing can change that (if your fear is that your child wont love you, don’t you think it’s better to give him or her a choice rather than never even take a glance at him or her, your child!) Just think of all of the families that want children and can’t have them! Like my mom for example, she had three still borns and then my brother and then me. She wasn’t going to give up and i admire that. She had me and later on had to give me up for adoption, now that takes a real woman. All i’m saying is please, please, please think things through and talk to someone about it before you have an abortion. I promise promise that their is a family out there somewhere that will love that child and care for them night and day and will actually jump and scream for the ability to have a baby, like you.

  22. Allie says:

    I love those of who you call Anne closed minded and that she didn’t have a right to write what she did. Bullshit. Like others have said, she HAD an abortion. And even those who are pro choice have to agree that women go through a complex range of emotions after having an abortion, and this was Anne’s way of dealing with it.

    NEVER EVER insinuate that a poet doesn’t have the right to express a thought just because you think it’s morally wrong. That’s just ridiculous. If you don’t like her confessional writings, stop reading them. The rest of us who actually try to understand her will continue to enjoy what she had to say.

  23. Juliet says:

    A little bit more…

    …I don’t think this poem is anti-abortion, rather, anti- the attitude “just abort the baby, then you won’t have to deal with this anymore.” When I inititally read this poem, I could tell it wasn;t written by an amateur, or an outsider to the world of abortion. It had to have been someone who had been intimately involved with the process. I think that the metaphor ans simile in this poem is just gorgeous.

  24. Jennifer Nicole says:

    hey everyone. I am totally against abortion. I waz rapped and pregnant and couldnt even stand thinkin about it anymore, but I would not turn to abortion. Thats nothing but murder, it’s killing a living humen that could of made a diffrence in this world!!! Yea i know about why Anne got it too and I am a big fan of all of Anne’s poems, I just love them cuz almost all of them i can relate to, the ones about drugs, wanting to commit suicide, all of them, and i also love this poem alot to and i’m glad she felt regret and decided to write this poem saying how she felt about it i think she had an okay reason to do it but i totally dissagree. I’m 19 and i’ve had a real shitty life and i just love reading anne’s poems cuz they relate to my life so well. well i’m out!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    p.s someone write back

  25. katie says:

    are you guys kidding.. if any of you really know about anne you would find out that she herself had an abortion.. she was a in a family where she was the third child, she felt unwanted..this baby “she should of had” was to be the third child..she feared that the baby like herself was going to be unwanted. The poem was basically showing her regret.

    Ps- im 15 and understood it better

  26. Missy says:

    Your poem was a good one, yes im for abortion. Not for myself, i don’t think i would ever do it. but i do understand that there are people who have no other choice, and that it is the best thing they can do for themselves and the child.

  27. Anonymous says:

    you morons, this poem isn’t about sticking a berlody coat hanger up your crotch, it’s about somebody who should’ve been born being gone. can’t you step outside yourselves for the length of a bloody poem? jesus god. anne sexton did not write poem about how abortions are bad. she was a genius, not an editorialist. why would she do that?

  28. Jennifer says:

    Reguarding the comment posted by Maria. I have to disagree with you simply because Anne Sexton did have to face hard decisions during her short lived life. She had an abortion! Maybe this is the reason she wrote this poem. She felt some regret for what she did. Also, she suffered from depression and this also could be a factor. All I am saying is don’t be so quick to judge if you don’t have all of the facts.

  29. Kelsey says:

    There is no justifiable reason for an abortion other than when it is a medical procedure vital to the mother’s survival which is extremely rare. Every child was created by God and He has a plan already laid out for their life. Religion is not the only back-up for those who oppose this form of murder. Logic, medical facts, and morality do too. Feel free to contact me if you disagree and I will be happy to discuss it with you.

  30. Person says:

    I don’t think the poet necessarily was against abortion. I think she’s just conveying the complex feelings that go along with having one. Anne wasn’t a huge proponent of motherhood, you know. It was a huge struggle for her, and if the speaker of the poem reflects her feelings on it, it just shows that it’s not so black and white.

  31. Maria says:

    Their are many valad reasons to have an abortion, not all are because the mother dosent want the child. I think this pome is expresidly one sided, cold and overly critical written by someone who has never been forced to make the hard desision. I hope others reading this pome will be more open minded then the poet!

  32. Deanna says:

    I am against abortion also… My sister was gonna get an abortion but i stopped her from doing that because its just like murder i mean god people need to have some feelings. I mean fetus has some feelings too.

  33. delores says:

    I have a arguementative paper at my high school and i inclued that anne sexton was against abortion and she wrote a wonderful poem about it……

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