Treasure Island

Anne Sexton

(9 November 1928 – 4 October 1974 / Newton, Massachusetts)

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 where the sun gutters from the sky,
where the sea swings in like an iron gate
and we touch. In another country people die.

My darling, the wind falls in like stones
from the whitehearted water and when we touch
we enter touch entirely. No one's alone.
Men kill for this, or for as much.

And what of the dead? They lie without shoes
in the stone boats. They are more like stone
than the sea would be if it stopped. They refuse
to be blessed, throat, eye and knucklebone.

Submitted: Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Edited: Wednesday, August 11, 2010

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  • Nick Donaldson (4/11/2009 1:22:00 PM)

    Her parents died at roughly the same time as this poem was written so I think it's about her accepting her own mortality: She knows she's going to die and she doesn't want to make a big deal about it (Report) Reply

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