Poem of the Week: The Truth the Dead Know by Anne Sexton

anne sexton

This is an unpublished version of one of my favorite Anne Sexton Poems, The Truth the Dead Know.  This version’s final two stanzas are different, but I much prefer this version’s ending.  I first came across Sexton reading this in the Poetry Speaks collection of authors reading their work.  I prefer it to the original which appears in All My Pretty Ones.

The Truth the Dead Know

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 a blushing hermit in the sun
where the sea swings in like an iron gate
and I turn to you and am bright and young.

My love, the wind falls in like stones
from a white mountain and where we touch
we are twice marked and twice alone.
Men kill for this, or for as much.

And what would the dead say? What defiles
their calm eyes and their loose brows?
Not this. For through their tiny smiles
they mutter: live now, live now.

Here is a link to the audio of Sexton reading this version of her poem.  Thanks to Collin Kelly: Modern Confessional for the transcription and link!

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Categories: Poems

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3 replies

  1. Katy you have a knack for picking the most beautiful prose…

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