a qwriting.qc.cuny.edu blog

One of the main themes seen throughout Anne  Sexton’s poem selection To Bedlam and Part Way Back  is “death.”  “The Double Image” and  “Elizabeth Gone” are two poems in which  Sexton mentions death clearly.

“Elizabeth Gone”, is an interesting poem because at first Sexton seems to miss Elizabeth and speak to her as though she has just died. Her lying there before Sexton, before cremation is mentioned this is with in the first two stanzas of the poem, and then in the third and fourth stanza Sexton says “When something cried, let me go let me go./ So I threw out your last bony shells.” These lines now tell the reader that Sexton is not speaking only of Elizabeth dying and leaving her but, also letting go and losing what was left of her. In some cases these can be memories, relationships, but here it is the ashes which symbolize the physical being of Elizabeth which is now “gone.”

In “The Double Image” Sexton again brings up the subject of death. Here at first she brings up the fact that her mother did not appreciate her attempts at suicide and could not forget that Sexton had attempted to do it, she also mentions that she had her portrait made and lived like an angry guest with her mother. She also speaks about the birth of “you” which here is her daughter and while speaking to her daughter she says “You call me mother and I remember my mother again,/somewhere in greater Boston dying.”  Sexton brings together the birth of her daughter to her attempts at suicide and she brings together the beginning of a relationship with her daughter to the dying relationship that she shares with her mother. Sexton’s daughter had been born which had caused her attempts to commit suicide which in turn brought her further away from her own mother, while at the same token a relationship between her and her daughter has been born while that with her mother has died.

Sexton seems to say that life and death go hand in hand. While one takes birth it is necessary for the other to die. She can also be in mourning for all the loved ones she has lost, and may also be somehow incorporating her own suicidal attempts making the claim that in order for her daughter to live she had needed to die possibly.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
October 26th, 2010 at 10:38 pm

6 Responses to “Anne Sexton-To Bedlam & Part Way Back”
  1. 1
      maivish058 says:

    I strongly agree with you when you said that when someone is born, it becomes necessary foe the other person to die. Life and death go hand in hand. This is what I felt as well when I was reading the poem, “The Double Image.” I guess this is why the grandmother died in order for Joyce to be born. I also think that most of her work shows her thoughts about committing suicide, to incorporate these thoughts, she was tring to reveal that in order for her daughter to live, she had to die as well.

  2. 2
      pamelaburger says:

    I think you raise a really interesting point regarding the relationship between birth and death, as the start of her relationship with her daughter seems to spur on letting go of her mother, and then her mother’s death. I think this is particularly compelling if read in light of Sexton’s postpartum depression, and her breakdown after her daughter’s birth. In a sense, it is quite literally the act of giving birth that precipitates her suicidal thoughts.

  3. 3
      Toby says:


  4. 4
      kobe 10 image says:

    kobe 10 image

  5. 5
      cheat online says:

    cheat online

  6. 6
      curry 2 says:

    curry 2

    English Seminar » Anne Sexton-To Bedlam & Part Way Back