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To Bedlam and Part Way Back Paperback – October 1, 1960


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 67 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company (October 1960)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395081793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395081792
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,829,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
This was Anne Sexton's first collection of poems. It is easy to understand why it made such a strong impression. It has a power in feeling and expression, a reaching beyond any restrait or limit - it is confessional poetry in which the poet seems to spare no one, least of all herself. Her whole enterprise in poetry began at the suggestion of her psychoanalyst and she was in the worlds of extreme emotion long before she began to write. Her descriptions of life in the asylum, including those of her fellow 'inmates' are striking. But the poems also include pieces involving her relations to family members, perhaps her mother first and above all, but also her father, and a beloved aunt of hers who she reimagines the life of. Sexton's language is richly metaphoric and original. The feeling in reading her work is that she is a poet at the highest level, whatever objection one might have to certain kinds of sentiment she expresses i.e. She does not seem especially generous and forgiving of those closest to her. In one of the poems she speaks of herself as having been an unwanted third daughter. As a mother of two daughters she defines their lives and being too primarily in relation to her own needs.
Among the many outstanding poems there is the one which opens the book, 'You, Doctor Martin' which tells of her psychiatrist who each morning 'walks from breakfast to madness','Her Kind'in which the refrain 'I have been her kind' connects the poet with the 'witch' whose actions are described in the poem,'Some Foreign Letters' in which she in rereading letters her aunt wrote from Europe in the 1890's 'learns to love her twice', 'The Funnel' in which she tells the story of her great- grandfather who ' begat eight genius children and brought twelve almost new pianos'.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAME on January 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In this striking volume, as also in the second book All My Pretty Ones, Sexton's despair is still beautifully controlled, enabling her to discuss it with an aloof but engaging sense of objectivity. For example, The Waiting Head is a poignant memory of a beloved grandmother who lived alone and the poem ends with the line "but no one came no one came."

Equally poignant, but humorous too, is her description of being admitted to a mental institution. The poem is called Music Swims Back To Me and contains a repeating refrain and flowing rhythm that convey the sense of alienation particularly well. Said The Poet To The Analyst, a look at the relation between patient and therapist, is another masterpiece in its rhythmic flow and economical use of vivid imagery

The poem Her Kind described the poet as the witch, inhabiting a different world and a person "who is not ashamed to die." The Moss Of His Skin opens with a quote from Psychoanalysis And Psychoanalytic Review and is a resigned description of being buried alive. I find echoes of the same resignation in the music of Swans.

The musical quality of Sexton's poetry comes to the fore again in her tale of accepting the death of a friend, in the poem Elizabeth Gone, one of the most magical elegies I have ever read. Noon Walk On The Asylum Lawn integrates a line from Psalm 23 in each of the three stanzas, juxtaposing the reassuring words of protection with her own terrifying observations to eerie effect, for example, the second stanza:
"The grass speaks.
I hear green chanting all day.
I will fear no evil, fear no evil
The blades extend
And reach my way.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAME on June 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
In this evocative volume (and also in the second book All My Pretty Ones), Sexton's despair is still beautifully controlled, enabling her to discuss it with an aloof but engaging sense of objectivity. For example, The Waiting Head is a poignant memory of a beloved grandmother who lived alone and the poem ends with the line "but no one came no one came." Equally poignant, but humorous too, is her description of being admitted to a mental institution. The poem is called Music Swims Back To Me and contains a repeating refrain and flowing rhythm that convey the sense of alienation particularly well. Said The Poet To The Analyst, a look at the relation between patient and therapist, is another masterpiece in its economical use of vivid images and the rhythm of the words. The poem Her Kind described the poet as the witch, inhabiting a different world and a person "who is not ashamed to die." The Moss Of His Skin opens with a quote from Psychoanalysis And Psychoanalytic Review and is a resigned description of a terrifying occurrence, being buried alive. The musical quality of Sexton's poetry comes to the fore again in her tale of accepting the death of a friend, in the poem Elizabeth Gone, one of the most magical elegies I have ever read. Noon Walk On The Asylum Lawn integrates a line from Psalm 23 in each of the three stanzas, juxtaposing the reassuring words of protection with her own terrifying observations to eerie effect, for example, the second verse:
"The grass speaks.
I hear green chanting all day.
I will fear no evil, fear no evil
The blades extend
And reach my way."
A sense of first hand experience lends a genuine authenticity to these poems, whilst her mastery of imagery and the natural rhythm of language is original and impressive. To Bedlam And Part Way Back and All My Pretty Ones remain her best books, since the later works became so bleak and harrowing that some of them are very painful to read and digest.
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