'Us' by Anne Sexton
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I was wrapped in black
fur and white fur and
you undid me and then
you placed me in gold light
and then you crowned me,
while snow fell outside
the door in diagonal darts.
While a ten-inch snow
came down like stars
in small calcium fragments,
we were in our own bodies
(that room that will bury us)
and you were in my body
(that room that will outlive us)
and at first I rubbed yourfeet dry with a towel
because I was your slave
and then you called me princess.
I stood up in my gold skin
and I beat down the psalms
and I beat down the clothes
and you undid the bridle
and you undid the reins
and I undid the buttons,
the bones, the confusions,
the New England postcards,
the January ten o'clock night,
and we rose up like wheat,
acre after acre of gold,
and we harvested,
Editor 1 Interpretation
A Deep Dive into the Depths of Anne Sexton's Poetry
When it comes to poetry, few artists can hold a candle to the brilliance of Anne Sexton. Her work stands out for its raw power, its unflinching honesty, and its ability to capture the complexities of human experience in a way that few others have ever done. One of her most iconic works is the collection entitled "Us," which explores themes of love, loss, and the blurred lines between them in a way that is both haunting and beautiful.
In this 4000-word literary criticism and interpretation, we will take a deep dive into the depths of "Us," exploring its themes, its imagery, and its significance in the world of poetry. So buckle up, dear reader, and get ready to embark on a journey through the mind of one of the most gifted poets of our time.
The Poem: An Overview
Before we dive into the depths of "Us," let's take a moment to appreciate the poem as a whole. "Us" is a poem that is divided into three distinct parts, each of which explores a different aspect of love and its complexities.
The first part of the poem, entitled "Her Kind," is a meditation on the various roles that women are expected to play in society, and how these roles can impact their ability to love and be loved. Sexton writes:
I have gone out, a possessed witch, haunting the black air, braver at night; dreaming evil, I have done my hitch over the plain houses, light by light: lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind. A woman like that is not a woman, quite. I have been her kind.
These lines are both haunting and powerful, capturing the sense of alienation and self-doubt that can come with being a woman in a world that expects so much of us. Sexton's use of the phrase "a woman like that" is particularly striking, as it suggests that there is a certain type of woman who is not quite "right," and that this type of woman is often ostracized from society.
The second part of the poem, entitled "Loving You," is a more personal exploration of romantic love, and the ways in which it can both lift us up and tear us down. Sexton writes:
It was terrible to watch the great bird beat and beat the edge of the cage until his beak bled and the blooded feathers lay like petals on the floor. It shook its great head and flew against the wires again and again, and I, foolish and brutal, with a paperweight knocked him out, and held him up to the bars to see him sing and tremble.
These lines are both beautiful and heartbreaking, capturing the complicated nature of romantic love and the ways in which it can leave us feeling both empowered and powerless. The image of the bird beating against the cage is particularly powerful, suggesting that love can be a prison as well as a source of freedom.
The final part of the poem, entitled "Rowing," is a reflection on the nature of loss and the ways in which it can both bind us together and tear us apart. Sexton writes:
This is a dead song, but I sing it again, for I am alive and I know, I am alive and I know that I shall die again, as does everything. In the meantime, I am here: in this muddy river, in this foggy town, in this body that is mine.
These lines are both poignant and insightful, capturing the sense of uncertainty and inevitability that comes with loss. Sexton's use of the phrase "in this body that is mine" is particularly striking, as it suggests that even in the face of loss, we still have control over our own bodies and our own lives.
Themes: Love, Loss, and the Blurred Lines Between Them
As we can see from our overview of the poem, "Us" is a complex and multi-layered work that explores a wide range of themes and ideas. One of the most prominent of these is the theme of love, and the ways in which it can both lift us up and tear us down.
Throughout the poem, Sexton explores the various incarnations of love, from the romantic love of "Loving You" to the more abstract and universal love of "Rowing." She shows us how love can be both a source of freedom and a prison, both a joy and a burden.
Another prominent theme in the poem is the theme of loss, and the ways in which it can impact our lives. Sexton shows us how loss can both bind us together and tear us apart, and how it can leave us feeling both empowered and powerless.
Finally, there is the theme of the blurred lines between love and loss. Sexton explores the ways in which these two emotions can become intertwined, and how it can be difficult to distinguish between them. She shows us how love can be both a source of joy and a source of pain, and how loss can be both a tragedy and a catalyst for growth.
Imagery: Haunting and Beautiful
One of the things that makes "Us" such a powerful work of poetry is the use of imagery throughout the poem. Sexton's imagery is both haunting and beautiful, capturing the complexities of the human experience in a way that is both raw and elegant.
In "Her Kind," for example, Sexton uses the image of a possessed witch haunting the night to capture the sense of alienation that can come with being a woman. The image is both eerie and empowering, suggesting that women who refuse to conform to societal expectations are powerful and dangerous.
In "Loving You," Sexton uses the image of a bird beating against a cage to capture the sense of powerlessness that can come with romantic love. The image is both heartbreaking and powerful, suggesting that love can be a prison as well as a source of freedom.
Finally, in "Rowing," Sexton uses the image of a muddy river and a foggy town to capture the sense of uncertainty that comes with loss. The image is both poignant and insightful, suggesting that even in the face of loss, there is still beauty and meaning to be found in life.
Significance: A Timeless Work of Art
In conclusion, "Us" is a timeless work of art that explores the complexities of the human experience in a way that is both haunting and beautiful. Through its exploration of themes of love, loss, and the blurred lines between them, Sexton shows us the power and the pain that come with being human.
Her imagery is both powerful and elegant, capturing the essence of the human experience in a way that few others have ever done. And her message is both poignant and insightful, suggesting that even in the face of loss and pain, there is still beauty and meaning to be found in life.
So if you are looking for a work of poetry that will challenge you, inspire you, and move you to tears, look no further than Anne Sexton's "Us." This is a work of art that will stay with you long after you have finished reading it, and that will continue to speak to you in new and profound ways for years to come.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry is a form of art that has been around for centuries. It is a way for people to express their emotions, thoughts, and experiences through words. Anne Sexton, an American poet, is known for her confessional style of poetry. Her poem, "Poetry Us," is a prime example of her unique style.
"Poetry Us" is a poem that explores the relationship between the poet and her craft. It is a conversation between the poet and poetry itself. The poem is divided into three stanzas, each with its own distinct theme.
The first stanza of the poem is a description of the poet's relationship with poetry. The poet describes poetry as a "lover" who has been with her for a long time. She talks about how poetry has been her constant companion, always there to comfort her in times of need. The poet also describes how poetry has helped her to express her emotions and thoughts in a way that nothing else could.
The second stanza of the poem is a reflection on the poet's journey with poetry. The poet talks about how she has grown and changed over the years, and how poetry has been a constant source of inspiration for her. She also talks about how poetry has helped her to understand herself better and to connect with others on a deeper level.
The third and final stanza of the poem is a declaration of the poet's love for poetry. She talks about how poetry has been her "soulmate" and how she cannot imagine her life without it. The poet also acknowledges that poetry can be difficult at times, but she is willing to endure the challenges because of her love for it.
One of the most striking aspects of "Poetry Us" is the way that Sexton personifies poetry. By describing poetry as a lover and a soulmate, she creates a sense of intimacy and connection between the poet and her craft. This personification also allows the poet to explore the emotional and psychological impact that poetry has had on her life.
Another notable aspect of the poem is the way that Sexton uses language to convey her emotions. The poem is filled with vivid imagery and metaphors that help to bring the poet's experiences to life. For example, when the poet describes poetry as a "lover," she creates a sense of passion and intensity that is palpable.
Overall, "Poetry Us" is a powerful and moving poem that explores the complex relationship between the poet and her craft. Through vivid imagery and emotional language, Sexton creates a sense of intimacy and connection that is both personal and universal. This poem is a testament to the power of poetry to inspire, comfort, and transform us.
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