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Alicia Ostriker T o penetrate the invisible veil between us all was Anne Sexton's literary calling, much as the justification of God's ways to men was Milton's, the articulation of the true voice of feeling was Keats's, or the recovery of the tale of the tribe was Pound's. The poetic program Sexton announced in her first volume of poems continued to be hers throughout her career.
She had committed herself to an erotic view of art and life and remained committed to it. Indeed the condition of her poetry is the presence of an audience, whom she needs to need her; Sexton's vocation as a poet was determined to an extraordinary degree by an assumption of and dependence on readerly empathy.
We may easily find Sexton's addiction to love, her insistence on need, infantile and repellent.
She clearly finds it repellent herself, thereby somewhat outflanking us. What must mitigate our Briar rose wombat crucible is the recognition that we, too, are such addicts, were truth told. Imagine the veil lifted, "language" spoken.
Hence the centrality of a strategy of seduction. The single most crucial device whereby Sexton pursues a seductive Briar rose wombat crucible is her use of "you," a pronoun she employs, I would not be surprised to learn, more than any other poet in English.
Over and over the poems address a "you" who may be mother, father, daughter, husband, lover, friend, psychoanalyst, or God, and who is always also the reader. More powerfully than any other poet in English only D.
Lawrence comes close she renders the complexity of intimate relationships--the way they involve the desire to merge with the other and the desire to resist merger; the way the other can be seen both as antagonist and as lover-beloved; the way joy, sympathy, affection, admiration, resentment, fear, anger, and guilt may must?
Further, those Sexton poems that deal most self-referentially with language gestures of various kinds are often, precisely, addresses to "you" that, in effect, invite "you" to reconsider the meaning of language, of poetry. McClatchy T he poems of the confessionalists--Sexton especially--have a kind of chronicle effect on readers, as one keeps track volume by volume.
This pervasive need to follow the contours of time, as if they sanctioned the truth they contain, is most clearly exemplified by Live or Die, where the poems are arranged in no particular narrative chronology but rather according to the compositional chronology, with the date carefully added to each poem like a clinching last line--from "January 25, " to "February the last, The rhetorical importance of confessional subject matter--especially insofar as it involves a characteristically Freudian epistemology--leads, in turn, to another consideration.
In his most important gloss on the mediation of art, Freud wrote: And among the barriers the self constructs are the familiar defense mechanisms: Such psychological techniques, in turn, have their rhetorical analogues, not surprisingly those most favored by modernist poets and their New Critics: And in order to write with greater directness and honesty about their own experiences, Sexton and the other confessional poets have tended to avoid the poetic strategies of modernism--to de-repress poetry, so to speak--and have sought to achieve their effects by other means.
Sexton's turn toward open forms, as though in trust, is an example. In general, it can be said of Sexton's poems, as of other confessional poems, that the patterns they assume and by which they manage their meanings are those which more closely follow the actual experiences they are recreating--forms that can include and reflect direct, personal experience; a human, rather than a disembodied voice; the dramatic presentation of the flux of time and personality; and the drive toward sincerity.
By this last concept is meant not an ethical imperative, but the willed and willing openness of the poet to her experience and to the character of the language by which her discoveries are revealed and shared. Not that the structures of sincerity abandon every measure of artifice.
While she may have associated the imagination so strongly with memory, Sexton realized as well that the self s past experiences are neither provisional nor final, that even as they shape the art that describes them, so too they are modified by that very art.
The flux of experience, rather than its absolute truth, determines which concerns or wounds are returned to in poem after poem, either because they have not yet been understood or because the understanding of them has changed.
And Sexton is sharply aware, in her work, of the difference between factual truth and poetic truth--of the need to "edit" out, while trying not to distort, redundant or inessential "facts" in the service of cleaner, sharper poems. In a crucial sense, confessional art is a means of realizing the poet.
As the poet realizes himself, inevitably he catches up the way we live now: In addition, then, to our sense of the confessional poet as a survivor, he or she functions as a kind of witness.
What may have begun as a strictly private need is transformed, once it is published, into a more inclusive focus--and here one recalls Whitman's "attempt, from first to last, to put a Person, a human being myself, in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century, in America freely, fully, and truly on record.
The Artist and Her Critics. Greg Johnson A t the heart of Anne Sexton's poetry is a search for identity, and her well-known infatuation with death--the cause of her rather notorious fame, and the apparent reason her work is often dismissed as beneath serious consideration--has little to do with this search; in her best work, in fact, it is most often an annoying irrelevancy, however potent it seems in its occasional command of the poet's psyche.
Quite simply, Sexton's poetry is a poetry of life, and if her work is "confessional" at times, or even most of the time, this does not mean that the poet's confessions the word itself is misleading necessarily describe experiences ridden with guilt or pain.We make quality, lasting swimwear to suit people of all shapes and sizes – women from and men from S to 6XL.
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The climax is a crucible of fear, fight, and fire that Fish must pass through to reach Rose and conquer his dragons. The long-awaited third volume in the Snow White and Rose Red trilogy by Regina Doman, based on another well-loved Grimm's fairy tale.