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The Interrogation Of The Man Of Many Hearts Analysis



Author: poem of Anne Sexton Type: poem Views: 6

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Who's she, that one in your arms?



She's the one I carried my bones to

and built a house that was just a cot

and built a life that was over an hour

and built a castle where no one lives

and built, in the end, a song

to go with the ceremony.




Why have you brought her here?

Why do you knock on my door

with your little stores and songs?



I had joined her the way a man joins

a woman and yet there was no place

for festivities or formalities

and these things matter to a woman

and, you see, we live in a cold climate

and are not permitted to kiss on the street

so I made up a song that wasn't true.

I made up a song called Marriage.




You come to me out of wedlock

and kick your foot on my stoop

and ask me to measure such things?



Never. Never. Not my real wife.

She's my real witch, my fork, my mare,

my mother of tears, my skirtful of hell,

the stamp of my sorrows, the stamp of my bruises

and also the children she might bear

and also a private place, a body of bones

that I would honestly buy, if I could buy,

that I would marry, if I could marry.




And should I torment you for that?

Each man has a small fate allotted to him

and yours is a passionate one.



But I am in torment. We have no place.

The cot we share is almost a prison

where I can't say buttercup, bobolink,

sugarduck, pumpkin, love ribbon, locket,

valentine, summergirl, funnygirl and all

those nonsense things one says in bed.

To say I have bedded with her is not enough.

I have not only bedded her down.

I have tied her down with a knot.




Then why do you stick your fists

into your pockets? Why do you shuffle

your feet like a schoolboy?



For years I have tied this knot in my dreams.

I have walked through a door in my dreams

and she was standing there in my mother's apron.

Once she crawled through a window that was shaped

like a keyhole and she was wearing my daughter's

pink corduroys and each time I tied these women

in a knot. Once a queen came. I tied her too.

But this is something I have actually tied

and now I have made her fast.

I sang her out. I caught her down.

I stamped her out with a song.

There was no other apartment for it.

There was no other chamber for it.

Only the knot. The bedded-down knot.

Thus I have laid my hands upon her

and have called her eyes and her mouth

as mine, as also her tongue.




Why do you ask me to make choices?

I am not a judge or a psychologist.

You own your bedded-down knot.



And yet I have real daytimes and nighttimes

with children and balconies and a good wife.

Thus I have tied these other knots,

yet I would rather not think of them

when I speak to you of her. Not now.

If she were a room to rent I would pay.

If she were a life to save I would save.

Maybe I am a man of many hearts.




A man of many hearts?

Why then do you tremble at my doorway?

A man of many hearts does not need me.



I'm caught deep in the dye of her.

I have allowed you to catch me red-handed,

catch me with my wild oats in a wild clock

for my mare, my dove and my own clean body.

People might say I have snakes in my boots

but I tell you that just once am I in the stirrups,

just once, this once, in the cup.

The love of the woman is in the song.

I called her the woman in red.

I called her the woman in pink

but she was ten colors

and ten women

I could hardly name her.




I know who she is.

You have named her enough.



Maybe I shouldn't have put it in words.

Frankly, I think I'm worse for this kissing,

drunk as a piper, kicking the traces

and determined to tie her up forever.

You see the song is the life,

the life I can't live.

God, even as he passes,

hand down monogamy like slang.

I wanted to write her into the law.

But, you know, there is no law for this.




Man of many hearts, you are a fool!

The clover has grown thorns this year

and robbed the cattle of their fruit

and the stones of the river

have sucked men's eyes dry,

season after season,

and every bed has been condemned,

not by morality or law,

but by time.





Submitted by Venus






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