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After Auschwitz

Anne Sexton

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Added by: Kevin
This poem is missing the last line, which is "I beg the Lord not to hear."

Rather important, that.
Why "after" Auschwitz?
Added by: Catalun
Given its title, the poem is not about Auschwitz. It is about the writer's experience following an epsidode which she equates (perhaps trivially) to the brutality of that concentration camp.

The "sauteed" baby and the constant references to crass qualities of "Man" (as opposed to "humankind") are given to us as a veiled reference to the wrirer's abortion of her child, a reference which the writer, despite the pungency of her verse, is unable to directly confront.
Added by: Stef
Of course, treating this poem as wholly autobiographical would be too reductive. Consider that the writer is not the speaker.
Added by: Just wondering

What exactly is it about a person's own life or the life of her unborn child that could ever be considered trivial?
Added by: Fee-fee
I agree with "Just Wondering"--well said.
Oh, and I particularly enjoyed the anus scratching in the poem. Very graphic.
Added by: Mesuinu
Trivial in comparison [to the deilberate and willful torture and distruction of millions of other people's lives]. And since s/he used the word "perhaps," it indicates s/he was attempting to take the opinions of people who would agree with the statement of triviality into account rather than state a stance on a political issue.

Personally, treating Sexton's poems as mostly autobiographical doesn't strike me as too terribly reductive.

after auchwitz
Added by: Casper
I've read this poem before and in the last line sexton says " I say these things aloud and ask god not to hear." your version leaves that out. this is not a direct quote and the other posting could have been wrong but this line to me is an integral part of the poem and it's what makes it so powerful.
Added by: justin
is it just me or was anne sexton the foremost "confessional" poet and wouldn't taking a autobiographical stance in relation to her work enchance the interpretation of such poems. of course autobiography is the nagging curse of any creative writer, but probably not very reductive in reference to anne sexton. case in point, her references to miscarriage. Plus, i highly doubt anyone who is slightly jewish would write anything about auswhitz trivially, so either someone was mistaken or it was meant in another context.
Confessional poets
Added by: Morney
Justin - no, it's not just you! Yes she was one of the foremost confessional poets (along with Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell...).

I think if anyone wants to 'understand' confessional poetry as fully as they can, they should look at the poet's life. Confessional poetry is by definition largely autobiographical - it would be rather pointless to read it and not look at the life too.
After Auschwitz
Added by: David
I feel that, before constructing an argument as to what the poet may or may not have been thiking of when she wrote this poem, the reader aught to consider what he or she feels this poem to be about in relation to his or her own life. It can be about miscarriage, if that is relevant to you, or it can be taken literally as a response to the holocaust; it could also be about current atrocities taking place almost thirty years since the poet's death. Man really is a flower that should be burnt; how else do you explain 9/11 and the resulting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? Witnessing those events on the television news footage makes me feel exactly the way this poem makes me feel in the way that it considers the Auschwitz genocide.

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