Music Swims Back to Me

By Anne Sexton 1928–1974 Anne Sexton
Wait Mister. Which way is home?   
They turned the light out
and the dark is moving in the corner.   
There are no sign posts in this room,   
four ladies, over eighty,
in diapers every one of them.
La la la, Oh music swims back to me   
and I can feel the tune they played   
the night they left me
in this private institution on a hill.

Imagine it. A radio playing
and everyone here was crazy.
I liked it and danced in a circle.   
Music pours over the sense   
and in a funny way
music sees more than I.
I mean it remembers better;
remembers the first night here.
It was the strangled cold of November;   
even the stars were strapped in the sky   
and that moon too bright
forking through the bars to stick me   
with a singing in the head.
I have forgotten all the rest.

They lock me in this chair at eight a.m.   
and there are no signs to tell the way,   
just the radio beating to itself   
and the song that remembers   
more than I. Oh, la la la,   
this music swims back to me.   
The night I came I danced a circle   
and was not afraid.
Mister?

Anne Sexton, “Music Swims Back to Me” from The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981). Copyright © 1981 by Linda Gray Sexton and Loring Conant, Jr. Reprinted with the permission of Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.

Source: The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1981)

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Poet Anne Sexton 1928–1974

SCHOOL / PERIOD Confessional

Subjects Health & Illness, Living

Poetic Terms Confessional

 Anne  Sexton

Biography

Much of Anne Sexton's poetry is autobiographical and concentrates on her deeply personal feelings, especially anguish. In particular, many of her poems record her battles with mental illness. She spent many years in psychoanalysis, including several long stays in mental hospitals. As she told Beatrice Berg, her writing began, in fact, as therapy: "My analyst told me to write between our sessions about what I was feeling and . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Health & Illness, Living

SCHOOL / PERIOD Confessional

Poetic Terms Confessional

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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