The Complete Poems (Cambridge Editions)

by Anne Sexton

Paperback, 1982




Houghton Mifflin (P) (1982), Edition: 7th, 622 pages


From the joy and anguish of her own experience, Sexton fashioned poems that told truths about the inner lives of men and women. This book comprises Sexton's ten volumes of verse, including the Pulitzer Prize-winner Live or Die, as well as seven poems form her last years.


(275 ratings; 4.3)

User reviews

LibraryThing member dawnpen
I'm in this workshop and I have this poem and Kathleen Fraser says that if I don't take every pronoun out of my poem I run the risk of seeming confessional which is "at the worst, Anne Sexton, and at the best, Sylvia Plath." I felt stomped on. Not because she was right about my poem, but because I
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became aware that everyone could see me doing it, reading the complete Sexton, cover to cover one spring in college. I can see me beside the pool reading it and I'm thinking fuck you Kathleen, because everyone is a young women sometimes and everyone wants those long long legs.
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LibraryThing member DawnFinley
If you are a longtime fan of Sexton's work or just encountering her for the first time, this is the collection to get. It is nicely printed and relatively comprehensive. Mariner Books has released several reprint editions of her books, many of which had been hard to find. You can collect them all,
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or just get this one, which is handier to use than the Houghton Mifflin edition.
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LibraryThing member valentipoetry
The first poetry I ever read as a child. This woman helped form the writer I am today. This book contains all her poems.
LibraryThing member abirdman
Poetry of hair-raising intensity. These deeply confessional poems give us a glimpse of the world of the mid-twentieth century from the point of view of a tortured, intelligent, privileged, and very articulate woman before feminism had a capital letter. Anne Sexton's portraits of herself as a
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student, mother, lover, wife, psychiatric patient, and human being, that form nearly an autobiography.
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LibraryThing member Crowyhead
This took me quite a while to get through, although not quite as long as I thought it would. Sexton's poems are raw, immediate, and at times make for painful reading. Also, because they are so confessional and autobiographical, there are times when one feels as those Sexton is speaking in pointed
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code that will only be understood by those closest to her. Overall, it's an impressive body of work, and my copy of this book is now bristling with slips of paper marking poems I want to return to later.
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LibraryThing member RoboJonelle
Poetry could possibly be my biggest passion in life and Anne Sexton defiantly gets a lot of credit for making that happen. Her poetry is very well thought out, one can tell it was a big passion of hers as well. The intensity of her words will hit anyone at home, the way she presents her emotions is
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bone chilling and her underlying feminism shows not only the period she was brought up in but makes you think about how the world really works, even now. I believe anyone can read her poetry and find something to relate to, which is a huge bullet point under the heading "great poet". If you love poetry, or even just great writing, this is something you must own.
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LibraryThing member msmalnick
still, after all these years and education and life and whatnot, my favorite poet
LibraryThing member Shaksper
If you are a fan of "confessional" poetry, you can't do any better than the soul cry of "dearest Anne." Read it cover to cover if you have the inclination, or dip in at occasion to encounter the mind and voice of a distinctive creative writer.
LibraryThing member abruser
Anne Sexton's poetry gives insight into a woman's world in the sixties and seventies. Although the sixties were known as a time of liberation and free love, unrest and oppression still existed in American society and abroad during this time. Sexton's poetry illuminates the complexity of women's
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roles in the United States.
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LibraryThing member SpellboundRDR
I've always been drawn to confessional poetry, so inevitably one of the first poets I came across when I started researching this genre was Anne Sexton. I was immediately addicted. Anne Sexton was a brilliant poet with a brutally honest voice and I was hooked. The first book I bought of hers is
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proof of this -every other page is dog-eared and about 90% of it is highlighted. I am still fascinated by her poetry and how she never shied away from any topic. Her life, heartbreaking and tumultuous is basically chronicled in her collection of poems throughout the years.

The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton is exactly what it claims to be. It is a massive and truly complete collection. This book is an absolute must have!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
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LibraryThing member tldegray
One of my favorite of the confessional poets.
LibraryThing member goosecap
N.B. I’ve decided to post this positive review of Annie even though some people (novelists, mostly) drawing on those late Sexton flip-out vibes make me want to flip a house myself with the sheer force of wrath, malice, and spite. (Or all the selfish people who, to hear them tell it, live for
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other people.)

.... Even at her most frankly distraught (or uncertain Eros, but I don’t make much of that, she was just a strange little lover and that’s fine), she was basically just winded from midcentury hyper-rationalism not finding divinity, which is what I think she really wanted. I don’t think Annie was ever really the sort of angry mob leader hypocrite that so often is our Radical. (And cf I’m a hypocrite, I want attention, and I’m going on the morning show!)

There’s a sort of person who listens to classical music, (on the car radio, say), not because they’re a scholar or even because they especially like how it sounds, but because it fills up the silence without frightening them. The classical forms of the mainstream Victorians and their predecessors can either make you very great-minded and even great-souled, or just a petty tyrant bent on controlling, locking down, censoring. This attitude, still with us today, was practically all there was in the post-Victorian ‘old wave’ of Sexton’s day, when the rebel cause of modern poetry had hardly made any progress since Whitman had barely left evidence of his own existence on the age’s Zeitgeist even after his explosion against the spirit of the poetry of the age, kings like Tennyson and even philosophers like Emerson.

This is still very much with us. Today you can choose to be different—and be hated for it. Today people talk about the Buddha with the same mindset in which they learned pre-Vatican II elementary school manners. (Guess what? Mommy knows you’re an empty container that just doesn’t know yet that it needs to get filled up with Dharma.) Of course it isn’t always so, but it’s common. And the rebel leaders who made the new age’s poetry were often, like Anne, very unstable, since they were, after all, explosions.

.... If you have turned up your noses at the least of these, post-Victorian critic, you have done it unto me. (Me, goosecap.)

.... “A cold sweat broke out on his upper lip/
for now he was wise.”

That’s just how it works, children. Wisdom is hard to bear. Wisdom is a fearful thing, “terrible as an army with banners”, /for it is Love/. The moiety is in the dictionary, but the greater portion is taken day by day like food, like daily servings of fruit and vegetables, along with the occasional burden of a less sleepy life.

Because little is it all worth, until you will suffer for doing well.

.... But it’s a bad poem, because it doesn’t encourage vegetarianism ;) /cha Ching/

That’s right I Am Socrates :D

—And Not Even The Census Taker Knows/
That That Is My Name

(And “Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty)” is a really fucking good poem. As I type this it’s like I am anxious because it’s getting dark and it’s not even dark and I don’t want to go out and I don’t even want to be inside; it started when I was inside, in safe happy place—so basically I’m Briar Rose. And for me this is the worst thing.

And “After Auschwitz” is a poem I remember from being in the library when I was running away from home and opening a book at random and getting that poem and being like, yup.

Actually that part of the experience was good though this was a long time ago before my withdrawal-phase.)

(A note: Hans Christian Andersen once called, I think, anyway, essential oils “bottled poetry”; that would make poetry verbal oils, if you like. The point is that we’re not necessarily allowed in the city of the philosophers and I try not to preen like they taught us in lit class, and I don’t always respond like I do here, either. The essence is feeling and I feel like I can move on to the next poem not if I can explain what she’s on about but if I have a sort of typical food-style review— liked; eh—felt. “Thanks Annie; now /I/ can’t self-regulate either!”)

(But I guess sometimes love means giving up your content.)

(Annie just wanted to have Sex with God.)

(Of course, if she could have known peace then maybe things could have been better for her, but in her time those cold intellectuals were the near enemies of peace, so that’s a little much to ask. At any rate going crazy doesn’t mean you have less value as a person, it just means that things don’t go quite as you plan.)

(She’s like Ellie Goulding and then she’s not. Anyway....)

Cap out.
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LibraryThing member Andy5185
Anne Sexton had an extraordinary impact on me when I was first introduced to her poetry in my teenage years. Although she differs greatly from Emily Dickinson, the subject matter of death is one that transfixed them both, as well as me. Sexton may seem an odd next transition after Dickinson, but it
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SO worked for me. To this day, her poetry still hits me viscerally and I'm stunned by her intimacy. "Her Kind" is still my favorite poem of all.
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