Anne Sexton

(9 November 1928 – 4 October 1974 / Newton, Massachusetts)

Anna Who Was Mad


Anna who was mad,
I have a knife in my armpit.
When I stand on tiptoe I tap out messages.
Am I some sort of infection?
Did I make you go insane?
Did I make the sounds go sour?
Did I tell you to climb out the window?
Forgive. Forgive.
Say not I did.
Say not.
Say.

Speak Mary-words into our pillow.
Take me the gangling twelve-year-old
into your sunken lap.
Whisper like a buttercup.
Eat me. Eat me up like cream pudding.
Take me in.
Take me.
Take.

Give me a report on the condition of my soul.
Give me a complete statement of my actions.
Hand me a jack-in-the-pulpit and let me listen in.
Put me in the stirrups and bring a tour group through.
Number my sins on the grocery list and let me buy.
Did I make you go insane?
Did I turn up your earphone and let a siren drive through?
Did I open the door for the mustached psychiatrist
who dragged you out like a gold cart?
Did I make you go insane?
From the grave write me, Anna!
You are nothing but ashes but nevertheless
pick up the Parker Pen I gave you.
Write me.
Write.

Submitted: Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Edited: Wednesday, August 11, 2010

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  • Veteran Poet - 4,836 Points * Sunprincess * (11/25/2013 11:03:00 PM)

    I can honestly say this is one of the most interesting poems I have ever read
    beautifully penned on a very sad human condition of the mentally ill..
    so heart-breaking... (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 4,836 Points L. K. Thayer (12/25/2007 5:07:00 AM)

    'number my sins on the grocery list and let me buy' - she is a high wire act, so dangerous, no net, I gasp as she dares us to watch (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 4,836 Points Charmaine Lava (10/11/2007 3:14:00 AM)

    Sexton's deliberate self-conversation is revolting and gorgeous at the same time, quite a feat. She is so deep inside herself and so much the star of the repulsive show-in stirrups with a 'tour group' going through. The poem is the instrument for resolution of her debate with herself. It seems as if she is inside a nightmare in which all of the parts are herself.
    Each of us has had some variation of that dream but she explicates it thoroughly. (Report) Reply

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