Live or Die

Live or Die

by Anne Sexton

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize: A gripping poetry collection mapping the thorny journey from madness to hope.Anne Sexton won immediate recognition as a strong voice in American poetry with the 1960 publication of her first book, To Bedlam and Part Way Back, followed by critical acclaim of her second volume, All My Pretty Ones, published in 1962.

Much of her experience is rendered as nightmarish, but it is significant that the final poem is stunningly affirmative, its title the single command "Live."This collection is a striking body of work by a poet whose experience is intensely female, whose poetry is strong and powerful.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Poetry
  • Rating: 4.21
  • Pages: 90
  • Publish Date: 1966 by Houghton Mifflin
  • Isbn10: 0395081807
  • Isbn13: 9780395081808

Read the Book "Live or Die" Online

the one with her eyes half under her coat, with her large gun-metal blue eyes, with the thin vein at the bend of her neck that hummed like a tuning fork, with her shoulders as bare as a building, with her thin foot and her thin toes, with an old red hook in her mouth, the mouth that kept bleeding into the terrible fields of her soul . the one who kept dropping off to sleep, as old as a stone she was, each hand like a piece of cement, for hours and hours and then she'd wake, after the small death, and then she'd be as soft as, as delicate as . as soft and delicate as an excess of light, with nothing dangerous at all, like a beggar who eats or a mouse on a rooftop with no trap doors, with nothing more honest than your hand in her hand - with nobody, nobody but you! - 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 analytics and cures, the death that talked like brides with plots, the death we drank to, the motives and then 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 new 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 bu an old belonging, a mole that fell out of one of your poems? I know well the grass blades you mention, the furniture you have placed under the sun. Like carpenters they want to know which tools. Death's a sad bone; bruised, you'd say, and yet she waits for me, year after year, to so delicately undo an old wound, to empty my breath from its bad poison. I will enter death like someone's lost optical lens. Eyes that were pierced, little nail heads, light blue gunshots. This time I certainly do not ask for understanding and yet I hope everyone else will turn their heads when an unrehearsed fish jumps on the surface of Echo Lake; when moonlight, its bass note turned up loud, hurts some building in Boston, when the truly beautiful lie together. So I will go now without old age or disease, wildly but accurately, knowing my best route, carried by that toy donkey I rode all these years, never asking, "Where are we going?" We were riding (if I'd only know) to this. Dear friend, please do not think that I visualize guitars playing or my father arching his bone. - Saul Bellow Well, death's been here for a long time - it has a hell of a lot to do with hell and suspicion of the eye and the religious objects and how I mourned them when they were made obscene by the dwarf-heart's doodle. And mud, day after day, mud like a ritual, and the baby on the platter, cooked but still human, cooked also with little maggots, sewn onto it mayby by somebody's mother, the damn bitch! It was caught in the first place at birth, like a fish. But I played it, dressed it up, dressed it up like somebody's doll. And all the time wanting to get ride of it? People don't like to be told that you're sick and then forced to watch you come down with the hammer. Today life opened inside me like an egg and there inside after considerable digging I found the answer. Here, all along, thinking I was a killer, anointing myself daily with my little poisons. I come with kisses in my hood and the sun, the smart one, rolling in my arms. So I say Live and turn my shadow three times round to feed our puppies as they come, the eight Dalmatians we didn't drown, despite the warnings: The abort! Despite the pails of water that waited to drown them, to pull them down like stones, they came, each one headfirst, blowing bubbles the colour of cataract-blue and fumbling for the tiny tits.

It doesn't matter that she ends the book with "Live", a rallying call to get through it. It's sad that this was obviously her way of convincing herself to live, but that doesn't make her poetry not a chore. In Live or Die Miss Sexton's toughness approaches affectation.

I would also say that Sexton introduces many more taboo and subversive subjects in this collection. To give you another idea of the heavy despondency which lingers throughout this narrative, one of the poems is dedicated to her daughter in which she apologises to her for having to send her off to stay with a relative for a couple of years whilst she was institutionalised for psychiatric treatments.

Favorites: Flee On Your Donkey Wanting To Die

Anne Sexton once told a journalist that her fans thought she got better, but actually, she just became a poet. While she was receiving psychiatric treatment, Anne started writing poetry. It all started after another suicide attempt, when Orne came to her and told her that she still has a purpose in life. In March 1972 Anne and Kayo got divorced. Anne didnt mention a word to Kayo about her intention to get divorced. She once told Orne that I feel like my mother whenever I put it the fur coat on.