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My Friend, My Friend

Anne Sexton

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Added by: David
I'm sure I can't be the only one who's noticed that she's blatantly imitating Plath here?
The lines about Jews and God are from Plath's 'Daddy'; the 'Friend' Sexton speaks of is no doubt Sexton's father. Tired old Electra complex blah blah blah...
She also seems to be imitating Plath's inability to stick to the metre of the traditional form she is attempting to write in.
If you're going to write a vilanelle, it has to be written in iambic pentameter; otherwise it is not a vilanelle, it is free verse.
And no one is better at free verse than Sexton was. Despite her technical ditherings, the woman was a poetic genius incarnate.
'When she was good she was very very good, and when she was bad she was horrid!': My sentiments exactly.
Added by: Morney
David - No, she wasn't imitating Sylvia Plath. She wrote this poem for Robert Lowell's writing class LONG BEFORE Sylvia Plath wrote the poems of hers that are similar.

They met in that writing class - that was when they became friends. It has been speculated by some people that Sylvia may have been influenced by this poem, not the other way around.

I like both poets equally. But really - check when poems were written before you say Anne Sexton was "blatantly imitating Plath"! That would be a bit difficult when this poem was written first.
Added by: Morney
"The lines about Jews and God are from Plath's 'Daddy'; the 'Friend' Sexton speaks of is no doubt Sexton's father. Tired old Electra complex blah blah blah..."

'Daddy' was written years after 'My Friend, My Friend.'

No doubt about Sexton's father? Do you actually know anything about her? The poem 'My Friend, My Friend' was about her friend, Maxine Kumin.

As for "tired old Electra complex blah blah blah...." your 'commentary' might have more credibility if you had bothered to find out when Plath and Sexton's poems were actually written.
Added by: Rachel
Additionally, this is not a traditional villanelle, so meter not being consistent is not a particularly huge issue here. Standard villanelles are 19 lines, using five tercets and a quatrain. This is 25 lines, with five quatrains and a concluding 5-line stanza.

Consider that writing form relies entirely on meter is a purist point of view - Sexton was not a purist. Look at "To A Friend Whose Work Has Come To Triumph." This is arguably a sonnet - no strict meter, but there is definitely a volta, there is a rhyme scheme, it's fourteen lines, etc.

Just some thoughts...
And Sexton and Plath moved in the same circles, but were not close friends, as commonly thought.

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