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Anne Sexton

  • Oh, la la la, / this music swims back to me.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Music Swims Back to Me," To Bedlam and Part Way Back ()
  • In a dream you are never eighty.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Old," All My Pretty Ones ()
  • A woman is her mother. / That's the main thing.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Housewife," All My Pretty Ones ()
  • Fear / a motor, / pumps me around and around / until I fade slowly ...

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Imitations of Drowning," Live or Die ()
  • ... suicides have a special language. / Like carpenters they want to know which tools. / They never ask why build.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Wanting to Die," Live or Die ()
  • ... women are born twice.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Little Girl, My String Bean, My Lovely Woman," Live or Die ()
  • Oh, darling, let your body in, / let it tie you in, / in comfort.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Little Girl, My String Bean, My Lovely Woman," Live or Die ()
  • Everything here is yellow and green. / Listen to its throat, its earthskin, / the bone dry voices of the peepers / as they throb like advertisements.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "It Is a Spring Afternoon," Love Poems ()
  • ... even a notary would notarize our bed / as you knead me and I rise like bread.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Song for a Lady," Love Poems ()
  • Beauty is a simple passion, / but, oh my friends, in the end / you will dance the fire dance in iron shoes.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," Transformations ()
  • A woman / who loves a woman / is forever young.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Rapunzel," Transformations ()
  • I would like a simple life / yet all night I am laying / poems away in a long box.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "The Ambition Bird," The Book of Folly ()
  • It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "All God's Children Need Radios," in Ms ()
  • Depression is boring, I think, / and I would do better to make / some soup and light up the cave.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "The Fury of Rain Storms," The Death Notebooks ()
  • Even without wars / life is dangerous.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Hurry Up Please It's Time," The Death Notebooks ()
  • The beautiful feeling after writing a poem is on the whole better even than after sex, and that's saying a lot.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • in William Packard, ed., The Craft of Poetry ()
  • Images are the heart of poetry ... You're not a poet without imagery.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • in William Packard, ed., The Craft of Poetry ()
  • Your courage was a small coal / that you kept swallowing.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Courage," The Awful Rowing Toward God ()
  • To be without God is to be a snake / who wants to swallow an elephant.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "The Play," The Awful Rowing Toward God ()
  • Be careful of words, / ... they can be both daisies and bruises.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Words," The Awful Rowing Toward God ()
  • Words and eggs must be handled with care. / Once broken they are impossible / things to repair.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Words," The Awful Rowing Toward God ()
  • The ground has on its clothes. / The trees poke out of sheets / and each branch wears the sock of God.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Snow," The Awful Rowing Toward God ()
  • Today God gives milk / and I have the pail.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Snow," The Awful Rowing Toward God ()
  • I cannot walk an inch / without trying to walk to God.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Not So. Not So," The Awful Rowing Toward God ()
  • God is not indifferent to your need. / You have a thousand prayers / but God has one.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Not So. Not So," The Awful Rowing Toward God ()
  • A shoe with legs, / a stone dropped from heaven ...

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Lobster," 45 Mercy Street ()
  • I am still divorcing him, / adding up the crimes / Of how he came to me, / how he left me.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Divorce, Thy Name Is Woman," 45 Mercy Street ()
  • It's a little mad, but I believe I am many people. When I am writing a poem, I feel I am the person who should have written it.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • in George Plimpton, ed., Writers at Work, vol 4. ()
  • Women tell time by the body. They are like clocks. They are always fastened to the earth, listening for its small animal noises.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • in George Plimpton, ed., Writers at Work, vol 4. ()
  • Mood can be as important as sense.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1957, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • The future is a fog that is still hanging out over the sea, a boat that floats home or does not. The trade winds blow me, and I do not know where the land is; the waves fold over each other; they are in love with themselves; sleeping in their own skin; and I float over them and I do not know about tomorrow.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1958, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • ... sorrow is easier than guilt.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1958, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • I am younger each year at the first snow. When I see it, suddenly, in the air, all little and white and moving; then I am in love again and very young and I believe everything.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1958, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • ... psychiatry is a dirty mirror ...

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1961, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • Letters are false really — they are expressions of the way you wish you were instead of the way you are ...

    • Anne Sexton,
    • (1961), in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • I hoard books. They are people who do not leave.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1962, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • In a letter (no matter how quickly it is written or honestly or freely or lovingly) it is more possible to be loving and lovable, more possible to reach out and to take in ... I feel I have somehow deceived you into thinking this is really a human relationship. It is a letter relationship between humans ...

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1963, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • ... the trouble with therapy is that it makes life go backwards ...

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1963, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • [I] have fantasies of killing myself and thus being the powerful one not the powerless one.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1964, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • ... I am not at home in myself. I am my own stranger.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1964, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • I think it will be a miracle if I don't someday end up killing myself.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1964, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • Poetry to me is prayer ...

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1966, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • The sanest thing in this world is love.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1966, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • Capri is like a beautiful mother. The water holds you up like a float and is so clear. Capri is the mother we never had, young, beautiful, exotic, accepting and loving arms.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1966, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • They [daisies] are my favorite flower. There is something innocent and vulnerable about them as if they thanked you for admiring them.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1971, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • I keep feeling that there isn't one poem being written by any one of us — or a book or anything like that. The whole life of us writers, the whole product I guess I mean, is the one long poem — a community effort if you will. It's all the same poem. It doesn't belong to any one writer — it's God's poem perhaps. Or God's people's poem.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • letter to Erica Jong (1974), in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • But my future is a secret. / It is as shy as a mole.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1964, in Linda Gray Sexton, ed., Words for Dr. Y.: Uncollected Poems ()
  • Death sits with his key in my lock. / Not one day is taken for granted.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1971, in Linda Gray Sexton, ed., Words for Dr. Y.: Uncollected Poems ()
  • Abundance is scooped from abundance yet abundance remains ...

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "What the Bird With the Human Head Knew," The Awful Rowing Toward God ()
  • Perhaps I am no one. / True, I have a body / and I cannot escape from it. / I would like to fly out of my head, / but that is out of the question. / It is written on the table of destiny / that I am stuck here in this human form. / That being the case / I would like to call attention to my problem.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "The Poet of Ignorance," The Awful Rowing Toward God ()

Anne Sexton, U.S. poet

(1928 - 1974)

Full name: Anne Grey Harvey Sexton.