Self-Healing through Poetry

Anne Sexton,

a well-known poet of the 20th century,
lived a good portion of her life with depression.
She documented this in her poetry.
She wrote to elicit feeling by putting emphasis on imagery and description.
This was also accomplished by her writing in the first person.


Anne was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for the first time,
at the age of 28, after the birth of her second daughter.
It was then she had been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and bipolar.
During this time, it was her psychiatrist who encouraged her to write poetry as a tool for self-healing.
Anne took the suggestion of her doctor and enrolled in a poetry workshop.


While she had great success as a poet this was not the reason for her poetry.
This was her way of expressing deeply repressed emotions from the experiences
of both her private life as well as the time she spent in hospitals.
Anne wanted to give the reader a glimpse into her state of mind,
and a greater understanding of depression.


In 1966, Anne published “Live or Die”,
a chronological collection of her poetry.
This, and her confessional style of poetry earned her a Pulitzer Prize
and made her one of the best-known writers in the country.


“Wanting to Die is just one of the poems written by Anne Sexton
as she felt like she was in constant battle with demons, with depression.
Hope & Healing is Possible!
Wanting to Die
by Anne Sexton

Since you ask, most days I cannot remember.
I walk in my clothing, unmarked by that voyage.
Then the almost unnamable 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, the 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.
Suicide 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.