Monday, October 4, 2010

Anne Sexton - The Black Art & The Addict

Anne Sexton at her typewriter with her cup of coffee, cigarette in hand.

The Black Art
by Anne Sexton

A woman who writes feels too much,
those trances and portents!
As if cycles and children and islands
weren't enough; as if mourners and gossips
and vegetables were never enough.
She thinks she can warn the stars.
A writer is essentially a spy.
Dear love, I am that girl.

A man who writes knows too much,
such spells and fetiches!
As if erections and congresses and products
weren't enough; as if machines and galleons
and wars were never enough.
With used furniture he makes a tree.
A writer is essentially a crook.
Dear love, you are that man.

Never loving ourselves,
hating even our shoes and our hats,
we love each other, precious , precious .
Our hands are light blue and gentle.
Our eyes are full of terrible confessions.
But when we marry,
the children leave in disgust.
There is too much food and no one left over
to eat up all the weird abundance.


Anne Sexton

The Addict
by Anne Sexton

with capsules in my palms each night,
eight at a time from sweet pharmaceutical bottles
I make arrangements for a pint-sized journey.
I'm the queen of this condition.
I'm an expert on making the trip
and now they say I'm an addict.
Now they ask why.

Don't they know that I promised to die!
I'm keeping in practice.
I'm merely staying in shape.
The pills are a mother, but better,
every color and as good as sour balls.
I'm on a diet from death.

Yes, I admit
it has gotten to be a bit of a habit-
blows eight at a time, socked in the eye,
hauled away by the pink, the orange,
the green and the white goodnights.
I'm becoming something of a chemical
that's it!

My supply
of tablets
has got to last for years and years.
I like them more than I like me.
It's a kind of marriage.
It's a kind of war where I plant bombs inside
of myself.

I try
to kill myself in small amounts,
an innocuous occupation.

Actually I'm hung up on it.
But remember I don't make too much noise.
And frankly no one has to lug me out
and I don't stand there in my winding sheet.
I'm a little buttercup in my yellow nightie
eating my eight loaves in a row
and in a certain order as in
the laying on of hands
or the black sacrament.

It's a ceremony
but like any other sport
it's full of rules.

It's like a musical tennis match where
my mouth keeps catching the ball.
Then I lie on; my altar
elevated by the eight chemical kisses.
What a lay me down this is
with two pink, two orange,
two green, two white goodnights.
Now I'm borrowed.
Now I'm numb.


If you're interested in a good online biography of Ms. Sexton, check it out here:

I also highly recommend the book, "Anne Sexton, A Biography" by Diane Middlebrook.  It's an enlightening book about Ms. Sexton, one of my favorite poets of all time.  I've read it many times.  Also, "Searching For Mercy Street:  My Journey Back to My Mother" by Linda Gray Sexton, Anne's daughter, is a fabulous read. 

It's a cold (!), totally stoned, humidless morning here in the swamp:  magical and rare.  The light....O, the perfectly crystalline, translucent October morning light!!  Would that I could bottle it and save it...

We're in the midst of a drought, though.  No rain going on 2 months so I'm praying for some sky tears. 

Love & Blessings,



"A poet is an unhappy being whose heart is torn by secret sufferings, but whose lips are so strangely formed that when the sighs and the cries escape them, they sound like beautiful music... and then people crowd about the poet and say to him: "Sing for us soon again;" that is as much as to say, "May new sufferings torment your soul." ~Soren Kierkegaard



angela recada said...

What a fabulous example of a beautiful and brilliant woman who was too sensitive and caring for this world! I adore her,too. I've read the Middlebrook biography, and it was very, very good.

Wishing you much inner peace, and just enough outer sky tears.

Love and hugs,

Bubba said...

If you could bottle it then you could sell it: Eaude de Anne Sexton.

Kay said...

I haven't read her biographies... afraid to damage the allure of an idol...

beautiful pics and pieces today, absolutely adore her!

Kelly said...'s been dry, but the temperatures have been heavenly!! I wish we could keep it like this and not have to get cold!

Wine and Words said...

"A woman who writes feels too much"

THIS is what I was trying to say...exactly this...but I took too many words to accomplish such a simple thought. Ahhhh. Nice poems my Marion. And your description of the morning, also considered thus.


ds said...

Yes, the Middlebrook biography is wonderful. Such a troubled woman--with such a gift! (hence the perfect Kierkegaard quote) Thank you for sharing these; I did not know them.

Pam said...

I've read everything about and by her. She is one of my muses. Like Plath, her poetry is ripped from her very psyche.

Confessional poet to the max! Disturbed but brillant!

Pam said...

Oh, and after I read Linda's book I shared a brief correspondance with her. :)

Anonymous said...

I can see why you like her, the poems are true reality and right to point, open, honest and enjoyable. She makes bad habits sound just has they are meant to be looked at. Enjoyable reading! Thank you so much for sharing Anne!
Love the roses and your page, like stepping into a dream.
Hope you have an amazing week!
Loads of love!


P.s Thank you for coming over to visit me, I loved reading your message!

quid said...

Great and educational post. I look forward to the book and loved the first poem. The second was a little too "real" for me. But I guess poets write their lives.


Phoenix said...

Two beautiful poems. I love Anne Sexton. She nails it so beautifully, right to the freakin' wall.

"Never loving ourselves, hating even our shoes and our hats, we love each other, precious, precious"...


Rick said...

wow would she n I get along spendidly. I have a poem coming out in a few days called "busy Dying" Shit, I swear I didn't steal her thoughts!
(8 letter verification? you tryin to torture me girl?)

* said...

I'm addicted to your blog, Marion! Few share the insightful quotes & poetry as you do, and so consistently!

I love Sexton, fell into deep crush love with her back in college, reading her in the library, wondering at her words, her life.

Thank you for sharing her today, and for the Kierkegaard quote, I'm savoring it, too.

Serena said...

Brilliant! I must read more of her work.

Hope you get your rain soon.:)