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"The Abortion" by Anne Sexton

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Ruthie Vorder

on 26 February 2014

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Transcript of "The Abortion" by Anne Sexton

"The Abortion" by Anne Sexton
The reader doesn't like the idea that 'someone who should have been born is gone' forever, like trash that we would dispose of.
Speaker and Occasion
Speaker: A middle-aged woman, possibly a mother, that is curious about abortion. She understands the logic behind abortion but also feels a deep sadness when thinking about a baby being bled out of the mother's body. She feels like abortions are cowardly.

Occasion: Abortion was, and still is, a controversial topic. the speaker is voicing her viewpoint on it, after possibly having an abortion herself.
Poetic Devices
1. Symbolism: "Up past the Blue Mountains.." The term 'blue' mountains symbolizes the sadness of the speaker about abortion. It draws the reader's attention to the gloomy outlook of the mountains and the negativity towards abortion.
2. Refrain; "Somebody who should have been born
is gone." This phrase, repeated throughout the poem, places emphasis on the central idea of the poem, which is the fact that babies should be born and abortion cannot be undone.
3. Simile: "the grass as bristly and stout as chives," This comparison to stiff and unpleasant-feeling grass helps develop the main central idea of the poem by emphasizing the harsh feelings of touching the grass compared to the harsh feelings of abortion- and the feelings of remorse afterwords.
4. Mythological Allusion: "up in Pennsylvania, I met a little man,
not Rumpelstiltskin, at all, at all… "Rumplestiltskin took a baby against the mother's will, but abortion takes the baby because of the mother's will, and this shows the difference in making the conscious decision to kill the fetus.
5. Metaphor: " the ground cracks evilly,
a dark socket from which the coal has poured" shows the feelings that are affecting the speaker. The thoughts associated with abortion have consumed her life to the point that the physical aspects of the landscape have negative connotations in her mind.
"The Abortion"
Somebody who should have been born
is gone.

Just as the earth puckered its mouth,
each bud puffing out from its knot,
I changed my shoes, and then drove south.

Up past the Blue Mountains, where
Pennsylvania humps on endlessly,
wearing, like a crayoned cat, its green hair,

its roads sunken in like a gray washboard;
where, in truth, the ground cracks evilly,
a dark socket from which the coal has poured,

Somebody who should have been born
is gone.

the grass as bristly and stout as chives,
and me wondering when the ground would break,
and me wondering how anything fragile survives;

up in Pennsylvania, I met a little man,
not Rumpelstiltskin, at all, at all…
he took the fullness that love began.

Returning north, even the sky grew thin
like a high window looking nowhere.
The road was as flat as a sheet of tin.

Somebody who should have been born
is gone.

Yes, woman, such logic will lead
to loss without death. Or say what you meant,
you coward…this baby that I bleed.
Full transcript