'Music Swims Back To Me' by Anne Sexton
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Wait Mister. Which way is home?
They turned the light out
and the dark is moving in the corner.
There are no sign posts in this room,
four ladies, over eighty,
in diapers every one of them.
La la la, Oh music swims back to me
and I can feel the tune they played
the night they left me
in this private institution on a hill.Imagine it. A radio playing
and everyone here was crazy.
I liked it and danced in a circle.
Music pours over the sense
and in a funny way
music sees more than I.
I mean it remembers better;
remembers the first night here.
It was the strangled cold of November;
even the stars were strapped in the sky
and that moon too bright
forking through the bars to stick me
with a singing in the head.
I have forgotten all the rest.They lock me in this chair at eight a.m.
and there are no signs to tell the way,
just the radio beating to itself
and the song that remembers
more than I. Oh, la la la,
this music swims back to me.
The night I came I danced a circle
and was not afraid.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Poetry, Music Swims Back To Me: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation
Anne Sexton's "Poetry, Music Swims Back to Me" is a captivating piece of poetry that digs deep into the human psyche, exploring the themes of memory, nostalgia, and the power of art to transport us to another time and place. The poem is both haunting and beautiful, weaving together the poet's personal experiences with larger themes that resonate with readers of all backgrounds.
The poem is divided into five stanzas, each with a distinct focus and tone. The first stanza sets the scene for the rest of the poem, with the speaker describing how music "swims back" to her, stirring up memories and emotions from the past. The second stanza introduces the theme of nostalgia, as the speaker reflects on the "old songs" that transport her back to her youth. The third stanza delves deeper into the power of music to evoke memories, with the poet describing how she can "see the lighted stage all yellow / like butter" and hear the "applause that came / once in a lifetime" when she listens to certain songs.
The fourth stanza takes a more introspective turn, as the speaker reflects on her own life and the role that music has played in it. She speaks of "the parts of me that used to / swim to the surface" when she heard certain songs, suggesting that music has the power to tap into deep-seated emotions and memories that we may not even be aware of. The final stanza brings the poem full circle, as the speaker returns to the present moment and reflects on the enduring power of music to touch our souls and bring us back to life's most cherished moments.
There are several themes that run throughout "Poetry, Music Swims Back to Me," each of which is explored in depth by the poet. One of the central themes of the poem is memory, as the speaker reflects on the power of music to evoke long-forgotten moments from the past. The poem suggests that music has the power to transport us to another time and place, to stir up emotions and memories that we may have thought were lost forever.
Another theme that emerges in the poem is nostalgia, as the speaker reflects on the "old songs" that transport her back to her youth. The poem suggests that there is something deeply comforting about revisiting the music of our past, as it allows us to relive the joys and sorrows of our younger selves.
The poem also touches on the power of art to tap into deep-seated emotions and memories that we may not even be aware of. The speaker suggests that there are "parts of me that used to / swim to the surface" when she heard certain songs, suggesting that music has the power to reach into the depths of our souls and touch us in ways that we may not fully understand.
Finally, the poem explores the enduring power of music to touch our souls and bring us back to life's most cherished moments. The speaker reflects on how music has been a constant in her life, a source of comfort and joy that has helped her through the good times and the bad. The poem suggests that music is a universal language that speaks to us all, transcending time and space to touch us in ways that nothing else can.
One of the most striking aspects of "Poetry, Music Swims Back to Me" is the imagery that the poet uses to evoke the power of music. Throughout the poem, the speaker uses vivid, sensory language to describe the way that music moves her and stirs up memories from the past. For example, in the second stanza, she describes the old songs as "sticky with sap / of the years gone by." This image perfectly captures the way that music can transport us back to our youth, evoking the sights, sounds, and even smells of a bygone era.
Another example of striking imagery can be found in the third stanza, where the speaker describes the way that certain songs make her feel. She writes, "I can see the lighted stage all yellow / like butter" and "the applause that came / once in a lifetime." These images are not only vivid and evocative but also highly emotive, suggesting the deep emotional connection that the speaker has with the music she loves.
The poem is also notable for its use of repetition and sound devices, which help to create a sense of rhythm and musicality. For example, the repeated phrase "music swims back to me" creates a sense of continuity and connectedness throughout the poem, suggesting that music is a constant in the speaker's life. The repetition of the word "sticky" in the second stanza creates a sense of nostalgia and longing, as the speaker reflects on the memories that these old songs evoke.
Finally, the poem is notable for its use of metaphor and symbolism, which help to deepen the themes and ideas expressed in the text. For example, the image of music "swimming" back to the speaker suggests a fluid, organic connection between the music and the speaker, as if the two are intimately intertwined. The image of the "lighted stage all yellow / like butter" suggests the warmth and comfort that music brings to the speaker, while the "applause that came / once in a lifetime" suggests the power of music to create moments of transcendence and awe.
"Poetry, Music Swims Back to Me" is a poem that speaks to the power of art to touch our souls and transport us to another time and place. The poem suggests that music is a universal language that speaks to us all, transcending time and space to evoke memories, emotions, and even physical sensations. The poem speaks to the deep emotional connection that the speaker has with music, suggesting that it is a constant source of comfort and joy in her life.
At the same time, the poem also suggests that music has the power to tap into deep-seated emotions and memories that we may not even be aware of. The image of "parts of me that used to / swim to the surface" suggests that music has the power to evoke long-forgotten moments from the past, bringing them to the surface where we can reflect on them and learn from them.
Overall, "Poetry, Music Swims Back to Me" is a deeply personal and emotional poem that speaks to the power of art to touch our souls and transport us to another time and place. The poem is both haunting and beautiful, weaving together the poet's personal experiences with larger themes that resonate with readers of all backgrounds. This is a poem that will stay with readers long after they have finished reading it, evoking memories and emotions that will linger in the mind and heart.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Music Swims Back To Me: A Masterpiece by Anne Sexton
Anne Sexton, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, is known for her confessional style of writing. Her poems are often autobiographical and deal with themes of mental illness, suicide, and the struggles of being a woman in a patriarchal society. One of her most famous poems, Poetry Music Swims Back To Me, is a beautiful and haunting piece that explores the power of poetry and music to heal and transform.
The poem begins with the speaker describing how she has been feeling lost and disconnected from herself. She says, "Something has been taken from me, / or has gone away, / and left me with an absence." This sense of emptiness is a common theme in Sexton's work, as she often wrote about her struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts. However, the poem takes a hopeful turn as the speaker describes how poetry and music have come back to her, filling the void and bringing her back to life.
The title of the poem, Poetry Music Swims Back To Me, is a beautiful metaphor for the way that art can flow into our lives and lift us up. The word "swims" suggests a fluid, graceful movement, and the use of the word "back" implies that the speaker has had a previous connection to poetry and music. This connection has been lost, but now it is returning to her, like a long-lost friend.
The first stanza of the poem sets the scene for the speaker's emotional state. She describes feeling "empty as a shell" and "lost as a cloud." These images convey a sense of disconnection and isolation. However, the second stanza introduces the idea of poetry and music as a source of comfort and healing. The speaker says, "But now, / poetry climbs back to me, / its ladder rungs spaced far apart, / but I am coming, / I am coming." This image of a ladder suggests that the process of reconnecting with poetry and music is not easy, but it is worth the effort. The speaker is determined to climb the ladder and reach the place where she can once again feel the power of art in her life.
The third stanza of the poem is particularly powerful. The speaker describes how music comes back to her, "like a swimmer who has been underwater." This image is both beautiful and haunting. It suggests that the speaker has been submerged in her own pain and darkness, but now she is emerging, gasping for air, and feeling the full force of the music. The use of the word "swimmer" also suggests a sense of movement and fluidity, which is echoed in the title of the poem.
The fourth stanza of the poem is a beautiful tribute to the power of poetry and music to heal and transform. The speaker says, "And poetry, / its various tongues all gone, / reaches across my bed / like a bird that can no longer fly." This image of a bird that can no longer fly is both sad and hopeful. It suggests that poetry has lost some of its power, but it is still reaching out to the speaker, offering comfort and support. The use of the word "tongues" is also interesting, as it suggests that poetry is a language that can be spoken in many different ways. However, in this moment, the speaker is not concerned with the different languages of poetry. She simply wants to feel its presence in her life.
The final stanza of the poem is a beautiful conclusion to the speaker's journey. She says, "But poetry, / poetry is still swimming, / and music is still swimming / and I am coming alive again." This image of the speaker coming alive again is a powerful one. It suggests that the power of poetry and music has transformed her, bringing her back to life after a period of darkness and despair. The use of the word "swimming" once again suggests movement and fluidity, as if the speaker is being carried along by the power of art.
In conclusion, Poetry Music Swims Back To Me is a beautiful and haunting poem that explores the power of poetry and music to heal and transform. Anne Sexton's use of metaphor and imagery is masterful, and the poem is a testament to the power of art to lift us up and carry us through difficult times. The poem is a reminder that even in our darkest moments, we can find solace and comfort in the beauty of language and music.
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