Anne Sexton

Like Plath, Anne Sexton was a passionate woman who attempted to be wife, mother, and poet on the eve of the women's movement in the United States. Like Plath, she suffered from mental illness, and ultimately committed suicide. Sexton's confessional poetry is more autobiographical than Plath's and lacks the craftedness Plath's earlier poems exhibit. Sexton's poems appeal powerfully to the emotions, however. They thrust taboo subjects such as sex, guilt, and suicide into close focus. Often they daringly introduce female topics such as childbearing, the female body, or marriage seen from a female point of view. In poems like "Her Kind" (1960), Sexton identifies with a witch burned at the stake:

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

The titles of her works indicate their concern with madness and death. They include To Bedlam and Part Way Back (1960), Live or Die (1966), and the posthumous book The Awful Rowing Toward God (1975).