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why do i live in this house?

June 3, 2009

Poets try to find words for things. Sometimes, we find our own words. And isn’t it glorious when that happens? Other times, we find others’ words. And there is truly nothing else like it, except, perhaps, lips lingering on your forehead, a sacred kiss from someone just as frightened as you, someone saying, not, “It’s going to be OK,” not, “I’m sorry,” but, “Yes, yes, of course.”

Here’s a recording of Anne Sexton reading “The Fury of Sunsets.” Can’t you hear your own heart breaking as she speaks?

The poem is one of the poems in a series called “The Furies:” “The Fury of Beautiful Bones,” “The Fury of Hating Eyes,” “The Fury of Guitars and Sopranos,” etc. I believe there are 15 of them (collected in The Death Notebooks, 1974). Just to see what it would look like, I assembled all 15 furies in order. It’s quite brilliant how — without having the full texts — just the titles of her furies lead one into the next, either by sound, the relationship of the words or meaning (I omitted some of the “of’s” in the list).

The furies of beautiful bones, of hating eyes, of guitars and sopranos, of earth, of jewels and coal, of cooks, of cocks, abandonment, overshoes, rainstorms, of flowers and worms, of God’s goodbye, of Sundays, sunsets, sunrises.

I find it particularly interesting that “The Fury of Abandonment” is preceded by “The Fury of Cocks,” but, considering how everything turns out, I don’t read much into the symbolism of this series ending with “sunrises.”

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5 Comments
  1. June 3, 2009 12:01 pm

    Oh, that list prose poem of titles is incredible, and your sense of it true. Thanks for giving me her voice today.

  2. June 3, 2009 4:44 pm

    The sunset like a red thumb, or did she say bloody thumb? Anyway, it’s brilliant, poignant. Thanks for organizing them here. The photo in the video looks like it could be Newbury Street in Boston.

  3. June 3, 2009 5:24 pm

    She says,

    “The horizon bleeds
    and sucks its thumb.
    The little red thumb
    goes out of sight.”

    What I like best is the tone in her reading. It’s not self-pitying. It’s confrontational. Or at least indignant. That’s the kind of miserable I aspire to be. šŸ™‚

  4. Michelle permalink
    June 4, 2009 1:08 pm

    That voice, that voice.

    Thank you.

  5. June 6, 2009 3:25 am

    Oh, the ending of this is amazing………I have goosebumps.

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