Monday, June 14, 2010

Love Poems by Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton’s poetry has always touched me in a way no other poet has. Sexton’s volume of poetry in Love Poems is an amazing piece of work because of what she writes about and how she writes it.

Sexton is the most honest poet I have ever read. Her poems in Love Poems covers all the areas and shades of love. Sexton begins her book describing what love does to the body and she focuses on one specific aspect.

For example, in her poem “The Touch,” the first two stanzas consist of imagery that describes what her hand felt like before it was touched by love. Sexton is completely honest and says, “For months my hand had been sealed off/in a tin box. Nothing was there but subway railings.” Sexton is not afraid of sounding like a needy woman. She just says it how it is and uses the most outrageous metaphors to say it. 

What makes her even more intriguing is how she changes her tone in the same poem. For instance, the third stanza begins with, “And all this metaphor./An ordinary hand—just lonely/for something to touch/that touches back.” Sexton repeats what her previous two stanzas were saying but she says it in three lines.

She is showing off how well she can create imagery and use metaphor in the previous stanzas but then says the same thing equally as strong in three lines. I think she does this because she is more focused on getting the right message across to the reader. She just wants to be honest with the reader and confess something, never mind how she does it.

Sexton’s poetry in this volume is a mix of beautiful and vulgar poetry. However, it is entirely honest in both cases. For example, one of my favorite lines of all time is from her poem, “For My Lover Returning to His Wife:” “She is more than that. She is your have to have.” This line brought tears to my eyes the first time I read it in high school because it is so powerful and simply written. 

Sexton manages to sum up what love is in three words: “have to have.” Being in love with someone creates a need for them that you can not deny; you just have to have them.

In another instance, Sexton can also be vulgar in her poetry but still convey the most honest of statements. An example of this is in her poem, “You All Know the Story of the Other Woman.” The line that made my jaw drop was, “She is his selection, part time./You know the story too! Look,/when it is over he places her,/like a phone, back on the hook.” 

This line is the epitome of the phrase “the truth hurts.” Sexton just tells things how it is and explains that the “other woman” is just a toy. She does not bother to beautify the situation. Instead, she blatantly states the truth. Sexton manages to put into words exactly what the “other woman” really is.

Sexton’s volume of poetry in Love Poems is carefully crafted into a structural form that describes the different stages in love—good and bad. Sexton picks on abstract areas of love such as a lover’s touch, the love between a man and his mistress or even the forbidden love of “the other woman.” 

Regardless, Sexton’s language exudes an extreme amount of honesty and emotion which is structured by her use of a break in stanza. Anne Sexton’s writing style, attitude in her poems and subject matter is an example of the type of poet I hope to develop into.

Interested in reading more about Anne Sexton? Check out more of her poems online


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