Pages and Files
Ann Sexton Poems
Ann Sexton's Wanting to Die Analysis
Robert Lowell Poems
Robert Lowell's The Dolphin Analysis
Sylvia Plath Poems
Sylvia Plath's Daddy Analysis
W.D. Snodgrass Poems
Add "All Pages"
Ann Sexton's Wanting to Die Analysis
Wanting to Die
Since you ask, most days I cannot remember.
I walk in my clothing, unmarked by that voyage.
Then the almost unnameable lust returns.
Even then I have nothing against life.
I know well the grass blades you mention,
the furniture you have placed under the sun.
But suicides have a special language.
Like carpenters they want to know which tools.
They never ask why build.
Twice I have so simply declared myself,
have possessed the enemy, eaten the enemy,
have taken on his craft, his magic.
In this way, heavy and thoughtful,
warmer than oil or water,
I have rested, drooling at the mouth-hole.
I did not think of my body at needle point.
Even the cornea and the leftover urine were gone.
Suicides have already betrayed the body.
Still-born, they don't always die,
but dazzled, they can't forget a drug so sweet
that even children would look on and smile.
To thrust all that life under your tongue!-
that, all by itself, becomes a passion.
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 prison.
Balanced there, suicides sometimes meet,
raging at the fruit, a pumped-up moon,
leaving the bread they mistook for a kiss,
leaving the page of the book carelessly open,
something unsaid, the phone off the hook
and the love, whatever it was, an infection.
Analysed by Ashley Louisseize
The poem "Wanting to die" begins with an explanation of the voyage she is on; committing suicide which she calls "unnameable lust". The idea that this feelings returns suggests that it is not the first attempt at committing suicide and that it is something she longs for. The last line in the stanza also seems to reflect Freud’s death-drive theory.
This stanza seems to imply that she is speaking to God in the poem as she mentions nature that God has created in order to support life.
Sexton uses an analogy of a carpenter perfecting his work using the best tools to her deep desire of committing suicide with all of the details planned out.
This stanza describes her battle with suicide; how many times she attempted it, how easy it was, and her reference to magic suggests the importance of it to her.
Her contradictions on suicide such as “so simply” and “heavy and thoughtful” reflect neither impulse nor surrender. The last two lines seem to signify an addiction to this behavior.
Sexton rejects the idea of addiction but admits that she doesn’t feel her body’s pain; suicide is betraying her body since she doesn’t feel suicide’s characteristics.
This stanza talks about suicides which are not successful, how they would not die but be impressed. Another reference to addiction when she uses children as symbols of innocence as one of suicide’s motives.
The eighth stanza focuses on Sexton’s feelings toward suicide rather than life; death is her passion because living is not simple. “Death’s a sad Bone” could represent the idea that suicide was always a part of her mind and body.
This stanza changes the view on death whereas before it was “sad Bone” now it is undoing an old wound and freeing her from her body thus pain.
Her expectations of suicide are clearly depicted here as she believes that suicide will give her the happiness she seeks as well as heal the pain that life left her with (a pumped-up moon, leaving the bread they mistook for a kiss,).
This is a final outlook on suicide, a fitting ending since Sexton talks about how suicide leaves unexpectedly with things left unsaid and unfinished business. The last line of the stanza could be the source of her pain leading to her addiction to suicide; a broken love relationship, life, etc.
"I walk in my clothing"
"eaten the enemy"
"empty my breath"
“But suicides have a special language.”
“have possessed the enemy, eaten the enemy, “
“have taken on his craft, his magic.”
“Suicides have already betrayed the body. “
“Death's a sad Bone; bruised, you'd say,”
“and yet she waits for me, year after year,”
“to empty my breath from its bad prison.”
“Balanced there, suicides sometimes meet”
"But suicide have a special language like carpenters"
"have possessed the enemy, eaten the enemy"
"year after year"
help on how to format text
Turn off "Getting Started"