“Sylvia’s death”- By Anne Sexton

Sylvia Plath

Cover of Sylvia Plath

Anne Sexton

for Sylvia Plath

O Sylvia, Sylvia,
with a dead box of stones and spoons,
with two children, two meteors
wandering loose in a tiny playroom,
with your mouth into the sheet,
into the roofbeam, into the dumb prayer,
(Sylvia, Sylvia
where did you go
after you wrote me
from Devonshire
about raising potatoes
and keeping bees?)
what did you stand by,
just how did you lie down into?
Thief —
how did you crawl into,
crawl down alone
into the death I wanted so badly and for so long,
the death we said we both outgrew,
the one we wore on our skinny breasts,
the one we talked of so often each time
we downed three extra dry martinis in Boston,
the death that talked of analysts and cures,
the death that talked like brides with plots,
the death we drank to,
the motives and the quiet deed?
(In Boston
the dying
ride in cabs,
yes death again,
that ride home
with our boy.)
O Sylvia, I remember the sleepy drummer
who beat on our eyes with an old story,
how we wanted to let him come
like a sadist or a New York fairy
to do his job,
a necessity, a window in a wall or a crib,
and since that time he waited
under our heart, our cupboard,
and I see now that we store him up
year after year, old suicides
and I know at the news of your death
a terrible taste for it, like salt,
(And me,
me too.
And now, Sylvia,
you again
with death again,
that ride home
with our boy.)
And I say only
with my arms stretched out into that stone place,
what is your death
but an old belonging,
a mole that fell out
of one of your poems?
(O friend,
while the moon’s bad,
and the king’s gone,
and the queen’s at her wit’s end
the bar fly ought to sing!)
O tiny mother,
you too!
O funny duchess!
O blonde thing!


Between the two of them,Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton had cooked up a grand scheme of death, a taking away of  own life. Death seemed such a romantic thing. The scheme has been hatched in a car journey”that ride home with our boy”. Sylvia ditched Anne who took her raising potatoes and keeping bees seriously and waited for the drummer boy to beat on her eyelids.In the meantime ,Sylvia went alone into the death, death which Anne wanted so much for herself.Death both of them agreed they outgrew,the one they wore on their skinny breasts.


But what can the bar fly do but sing? Now that the king is gone and the moon is bad. Death was not a new thing for Sylvia, just a mole dropped from one of her poems.
I love this death poem, that talks of death , so handsome and so reluctant to terrorize. Our own handsome boy  who we drink to. The one they talked of so many times, talked of analysts and cures,downing three extra martinis in  Boston.
Death for the women is not a terror but a smooth talking  young boy, a sleepy drummer who beat an old story on their
 eyes. How they waited for a sadist death who would make it such a terrible affair! Contrary to their expectation he turned out to be such a soft spoken guy!
Not a tightly constructed poem, the stanzas overflow into each other and the images overlap. But the subject of death is not serious business for the poet who pretends that the friend’s death was only to be expected and was the best thing to take place. Wasn’t it what they had planned all these years? But the funny thing was how Sylvia upstaged her friend by crawling into death alone. Death is a creepy  thing but to crawl into the death was being one up on death.
Interesting  images/usages are
O tiny mother, you too!
(Caesar’s accusation to Brutus:Sylvia has betrayed Anne by stealing a march on her)
A mother of two children :meteors wandering loose in a tiny playroom
( meteors wandering loose in a play room is a nice image)
“with your mouth into the sheet/
into the roof beam,into the dumb prayer”
(The way the mouth is shut up under the sheet,gaping at the roof beam,into a dumb prayer)
In Boston, the dying ride in cabs
(dying ride)
I see now that we store him up
year after year,old suicides
and I know at the news of your death
a terrible taste for it, like salt
(Old suicides are preserved in salt and their news leaves a terrible taste like salt)
Enhanced by Zemanta