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The Ambition Bird Analysis

Author: poem of Anne Sexton Type: poem Views: 3

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So it has come to this

insomnia at 3:15 A.M.,

the clock tolling its engine

like a frog following

a sundial yet having an electric

seizure at the quarter hour.

The business of words keeps me awake.

I am drinking cocoa,

that warm brown mama.

I would like a simple life

yet all night I am laying

poems away in a long box.

It is my immortality box,

my lay-away plan,

my coffin.

All night dark wings

flopping in my heart.

Each an ambition bird.

The bird wants to be dropped

from a high place like Tallahatchie Bridge.

He wants to light a kitchen match

and immolate himself.

He wants to fly into the hand of Michelangelo

anc dome out painted on a ceiling.

He wants to pierce the hornet's nest

and come out with a long godhead.

He wants to take bread and wine

and bring forth a man happily floating in the Caribbean.

He wants to be pressed out like a key

so he can unlock the Magi.

He wants to take leave among strangers

passing out bits of his heart like hors d'oeuvres.

He wants to die changing his clothes

and bolt for the sun like a diamond.

He wants, I want.

Dear God, wouldn't it be

good enough to just drink cocoa?

I must get a new bird

and a new immortality box.

There is folly enough inside this one.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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Jeez, this one is pretty straightforward, don't you think? Maxine Kumin and many others have observed how the real stuff of Anne's life was set into Anne's hard-won texts. If you don't know from Tallahatchie Bridge, it was from a wistful pop song with very sad violin sections, Ode to Billy Joe I think it is called, that played incessintly on the radio those years and was finally used in a movie. But I read that Anne liked the radio, so that's probably where she heard that lovely syllabic phrase. Anne was a deliberate archivist and her files and documentation are awesome (in the traditional sense of that word)...she planned on them surviving her, and I suspect providing some kind of legacy to her survivors, which is a characteristically bizarre, selfish, burdensome act of her idea of kindness. The coffin is her filing cabinet. The symbolism and Christian references are accessible. Anyone else? Some might say this poem is not that well crafted, but I love it, and I love especially the completely comforting line "I am drinking cocoa,/that warm brown mama."

| Posted on 2009-03-28 | by a guest

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