THE BOOK OF FOLLY by Anne Sexton


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She howls like Medea for her losses, possessive and womanly in her rage--she seems to be trying to beat her way out of her own head; but still she is eager to show us that she is locked in with no ordinary stuff, her fantasies big and physical. Sexton, with perhaps Ted Hughes, has to be writing the most sheerly overpowering poetry around, this sixth volume no less than the ones preceding. Here again she is obsessed with primal relationships--motherhood, father-love, the oppression of daughters and their revenge; and, in the same conflicted vein, dealings between poet and the world. Her images are primal too--concrete and declarative, often delivered in the style of name-calling (""stars, those neon jacks""); and they are so often couched in terms of killing and eating that when she speaks of ""mamas"" and ""babies"" (her two favorite metaphors) the meanings that register strongest have to do with devouring and succulence. Given a vision like that, she can dispense with fancy figures and concentrate on the straight-forward simile as if it were (and it could well be) the very navel of poetry. And in her simile (""snows . . . humped as a dentist's chair"") all things come together. Three section are especially noteworthy: an autobiographical sequence called ""The Death of the Fathers,"" a cycle of sonnets ""The Angels of the Love Affair,"" and a small, curious set of prose pieces. For those who don't know yet, she is a terrible lady who bites down hard, and it would he unwise to ignore her, assuming that were possible.

Pub Date: Nov. 9th, 1972
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin