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The Truth the Dead Know

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Michael Hoang

on 3 March 2014

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Transcript of The Truth the Dead Know

Literal and Figurative Meaning
Biographical Lens
Michael Hoang, Bao Duong, Kevin Trinh, Kevin Ho, and Chistopher Thai
Psychological Lens
The Truth the Dead Know
Historical Lens
Poetry Analysis: Meter and Rhyme Scheme
Anne Sexton grew up in 1928, during a time of a Great Depression around the world. This led to her having a depressed mood all of the time. Poverty levels were at extreme values and this caused mass suffering and general resentment.
During her teenage years, the Great Dust Bowl struck the Midwest, which included her state, Michigan. The Dust Bowl brought famine to her region and this caused limitations on her necessities. Deprivation of a human's necessities will cause them to become more hatred towards society. As a result of this famine,her depression that has allowed her to write many eulogies throughout her career, such as the Truth the Dead Know.
Anne Sexton was born on November 9, 1928 in Newton, Massachusetts to Ralph Harvey, a woolen manufacturer, and Mary Gray Staple.
Sexton had a poor relationship with her alcoholic father who would occasionally abuse her.
Sexton was extremely close to her maiden great-aunt Anna Dingley who lived with Sexton's family.
Sexton's maiden great-aunt Anna Dingley's decline in health traumatized Anne Sexton.
At 19 years old, Sexton secretly married Alfred "Kayo" despite the fact that she was already engaged to another man.
Anne Sexton became a fashion model during Kayo's occupation task in Korea, and her faithlessness to her husband caused her to enter therapy where her doctor introduced her to wrting poetry.
In 1954, Sexton's maiden great-aunt's death led her to enter therapy once again.
Sexton found relief in writing poetry which she did very often.
Sexton's growing popularity led to abuse from her husband.
In 1959, Sexton lost her parents unexpectedly.
Sexton committed suicide by suffocating herself with carbon monoxide in her Boston garage in 1974.

People lining up for free
rations during The Great Depression.

Gone, I say and walk from church,

refusing the stiff procession to the grave,

letting the dead ride alone in the hearse.

It is June. I am tired of being brave.


We drive to the Cape. I cultivate

myself where the sun gutters from the sky,

where the sea swings in like an iron gate

and we touch. In another country people die.


My darling, the wind falls in like stones

from the whitehearted water and when we touch

we enter touch entirely. No one's alone.

Men kill for this, or for as much.


And what of the dead? They lie without shoes

in the stone boats. They are more like stone

than the sea would be if it stopped. They refuse

to be blessed, throat, eye and knucklebone.

The death of Sexton's parents traumatized her which is her motivation for the poem.
Sexton was known to be a very depressed person and heavily relied on medication and when her parents died it caused her to use poetry as a medium to reduce her pain.
The poem shows an insight into Anne's psyche through the tone of her poem to show her remorse over the death of her parents.
Through Anne Sexton's emotions the revelation of her morose psychological state. Her parent's simultaneous demise has created emotions that engulfed her psychological state causing her to produce negative verses.
The picture above depicts the Great Dust Bowl in the midwest during the 1930s,
The utilization of cacophonous diction such as the words "dead", "lie", "gone", and "stone " which has a connotative meaning of death reveals the theme that denial is the product of from the truth and will create a state of melancholy for the griever
Metaphor: Anne Sexton's usage of "whitehearted water" is parrallel to her empty state of mind, which is similiar to the water with a heart devoid of blood.
Simile and symbolism: Anne Sexton utilizes simile in line 7 to reveal how even though Anne and her parents are seperated by death, they are still connected and together. The use of simile symbolizes heaven through the sea where they "touch" and remain connected and together.
GONE, I SAY and WALK from CHURCH, (Stressed Iamb Tetrameter)
reFUSing the STIFF proCESsion TO the GRAVE, (Amplibraich Iamb Pentameter)
LETting the DEAD ride
lone in the HEARSE. (Trochaic Iamb Amphibrach Anapest Tetrameter)
It is JUNE. I am TIRED of BEing BRAVE. (Anapestic Iamb Tetrameter)

We DRIVE to the CAPE I CULtiVATE (Iambic Anapest Tetrameter)
mySELF where the SUN gutTERS from the SKY, (Iambic Anapest Tetrameter)
where the SEA swings in LIKE an IRon GATE (Anapestic Iamb Tetrameter)
and we TOUCH. In aNOther COUNtry people DIE. (Anapestic Iamb Pentameter)

My DARling, the WIND falls IN like STONES (Anapestic Iamb Tetrameter)
from the WHITEhearted WAter AND when we TOUCH (Anapestic Iamb Tetrameter)
WE enter TOUCH enTIreLY. NO one's aLONE. (Stressed Anapestic Iamb Trochee Hexameter)
Men KILL for THIS, or FOR as MUCH. (Iambic Tetrameter)

And WHAT of the DEAD? They LIE without SHOES (Iambic Anapest Tetrameter)
in THE stone BOATS. They ARE more like STONE (Iambic Anapest Tetrameter)
than the SEA would BE if it STOPPED. They refFUSE (Anapestic Iamb Tetrameter)
to be BLESSED, THROAT, EYE and KNUcklebone. (Anapestic Stressed TrocheirDactylic Tetrameter)

Anne Sexton's view on life after the death of her parents is presented through the details in this poem, such as "It is June. I am tired of being brave"". This conveys her view of sorrow as a result of the death of her parents, which relate to the harsh tone.
Comma: Sexton's use of commas in lines 1-4 reveal her exhaustion with the constant tragedies that occur in her life. The pauses the commas create reveal the constant breathing and sighing of Sexton, exhausted.
Repetition:The repetition of refuse reveals her denial for the cruel truths such as her parents' death.
With the utilization of cacophonous diction, imagery, as well as details, Sexton was able to create the tone of sorrow.
This portait depicts a middle-aged
Anne Sexton, around the same time she wrote this poem. The background is the sky in which she posed for the painting. Her outfit is devoid of color and she is wearing a frown.
This portrait, although simple in appearance,
it figuratively suggests a deeper insight into her life. The blue background represents her depression because in color psychology, the color blue symbolizes morose moods. Moreover, the frown she wears on her face reveals how the tragic events in her past shaped her life. Additionally, the devoid of color reveals how Sexton does not see happiness if life as color generally represents happiness and the lack of color in the painting suggests how Sexton's life lacks happiness and joy. Her attitude towards life is palpably reflected in her poetic works, causing her to write eulogies and confessional poetry.
by Anne Sexton
Works Cited
Nelson, Cary. "Modern American Poetry Anne Sexton (1928-1974)." University of Illinois Department of English. Ed. Deanna Raineri. ATLAS, 2008. Web. 1 Mar. 2014. <http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/s_z/sexton/sexton.html>.
Sexton, Anne.
The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981. Print
"Anne Sexton." Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2014.
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