Anne Sexton's Poetry

             An interpretation of the poetry of Anne Sexton.

             Anne Gray Harvey was born in Newton, Massachusetts, in 1928. After attending one year of college, she eloped and married Alfred "Kayo" Sexton at the age of nineteen. They had their first daughter in 1953, and shortly after, in 1954, Anne Sexton was diagnosed with postpartum depression. Sexton was soon admitted to Westwood Lodge, a neuropsychiatric hospital. One year later, after the birth of her second daughter, she suffered a second breakdown and returned to the hospital. Her children then went to live with her husband's parents. That same year, on her birthday, she made her first attempt at suicide. .

             Shortly after her first attempt, her doctor encouraged her to pursue her interest in poetry as a way to open up and let many of her feelings reach the surface. It was that talent, her passion for writing that gave Sexton the courage to live with her depression for as long as she did. Nevertheless, in 1974 at the age of 46, Anne Harvey Sexton gave up, ending her successful writing career and losing her lifelong fight against depression. .

             Because of her constant feelings of unhappiness and misery, Sexton's writing revolved around death, dying, and suicide. Despite such dreary subjects, she was able to write quite a few effective poems throughout her life. In order to analyze the most important elements of poetry in Sexton's writing, I chose four poems from The Complete Poems: "The Starry Night", "Her Kind", "Suicide Note", and "Wanting to Die". The most important elements of poetry used by Sexton are her repetition of "I" and her many uses of simile and metaphor. Although she never neglects to incorporate other important elements such as symbolism, irony and rhyme, the two above stand out above the rest and help develop the true meaning of the poetry of Anne Sexton.

             "The Starry Night" is basically a poem describing and relating her own life to the famous painting, Starry Night, by Vincent van Goh.

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