My mouth blooms like a cut.
I’ve been wronged all year, tedious
nights, nothing but rough elbows in them
and delicate boxes of Kleenex calling crybaby
crybaby , you fool!

Before today my body was useless.
Now it’s tearing at its square corners.
It’s tearing old Mary’s garments off, knot by knot
and see — Now it’s shot full of these electric bolts.
Zing! A resurrection!

Once it was a boat, quite wooden
and with no business, no salt water under it
and in need of some paint. It was no more
than a group of boards. But you hoisted her, rigged her.
She’s been elected.

My nerves are turned on. I hear them like
musical instruments. Where there was silence
the drums, the strings are incurably playing. You did this.
Pure genius at work. Darling, the composer has stepped
into fire.

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

3 Comments

  1. afish says:

    The poem opens up with vivid imagery. Her mouth blooming like a cut is symbolic of color coming back into her romantic life. Consider a cut bleeding out, now imaging that crimson red growing on her lips. Red is our color of sexuality, and blood is metaphorically entwined with sex. The opening line efficiently illustrates passion filling her life again. It then serves to contrast this blossoming with her lonely misery prior.

    Contrast, people. That is the intent of this poem. It is blatant in every stanza. Passion to lonely nights. Limp to active. Old Mary to naked desire. Worn boat to magnificent vessel.

    A lot of people seem to want to contextualize this poem in terms of who her new lover may be. Nonsense. The other party is relevant only in that he has reignited her passion. The passion itself is what rejuvenates her.

  2. Khem Raj Chapagain says:

    My mouth blooms like a cut.
    I’ve been wronged all year, tedious
    nights, nothing but rough elbows in them
    and delicate boxes of Kleenex calling crybaby
    crybaby , you fool!

    Before today my body was useless.
    Now it’s tearing at its square corners.
    It’s tearing old Mary’s garments off, knot by knot
    and see — Now it’s shot full of these electric bolts.
    Zing! A resurrection!

    Once it was a boat, quite wooden
    and with no business, no salt water under it
    and in need of some paint. It was no more
    than a group of boards. But you hoisted her, rigged her.
    She’s been elected.

    My nerves are turned on. I hear them like
    musical instruments. Where there was silence
    the drums, the strings are incurably playing. You did this.
    Pure genius at work. Darling, the composer has stepped
    into fire.

    Anne Sexton is a modern poet. She presents human psychology in her poems artistically. She always tries to display the present state of her mind through some words.

    Kissing in her mouth felt like a cut. She felt no emotion. She felt that she had been wronged all the year. Nights were boring to her. She had been sexually exploited. She had not been treated like a young woman, but like a baby. Her body was useless without any youthful vigour and emotions. However, it is all the matter of past.

    At present, her relationship with a man is that of Mary with Light. In the Bible Mary was touched by the light and as a result, she conceived and gave birth to Jesus Christ. Similarly the poet’s present relationship is fruitful. She has also conceived a baby. Conception of the baby and the birth of it is like the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a great deed. The poet wants to say that her misery has passed away now.

    However, it was miserable in the past. She had to face rape, incest, abortion, drug-addict, insanity and contradiction of maternity. But the kiss that she has got at present is the symbol of creation, reproduction and generation. The kiss stands for the same light that made Mary pregnant and resulted in the birth of Jesus. Thus the poem is also an allusion to the Bible.

    The poet compares herself with a wooden boat with ‘no business; no salt water under it’. She was no more than the non-living wooden boards, which badly needed painting. Here painting symbolises excitement in life. She got it all with her new relationship. Her man ‘hoisted her, rigged her, she’s been elected; as the man understands her feelings and emotions well.

    In the last stanza, she talks about her meaningful life. Now her nerves are ‘turned on’ i.e. she is excited for living. She has started to hear music in life. Her nerves are serving as musical instruments. But in past very boring was the dead silence in life. Now the silence has been broken by the music of life. It has been all cured although it seemed to have been incurable in the past. For all this, the poet owes to the man who brought exciting moment in her life. She thinks that the man has done genius at work. Finally she says that the music composer of her life has stepped into fire. The ‘fire’ can be interpreted as the desire for sex, creation and reproduction, as fire changes things anew.

    The poem is written in the free verse. However, imagery, symbol and allusion to the Bible make the poem rich and highly philosophical.

  3. Jason says:

    Personally I think it’s funny. It plays on emotions and the sensory awareness of a being as well as touching on the external metaphors of the baot and the knot of Mary’s clothes. The innuendo is rampant throughout it, making it extremely funny. I think She was in a light mood when she wrote this

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