Anne Sexton

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

After Auschwitz

Poem by Anne Sexton

as black as a hook,
overtakes me.
Each day,
each Nazi
took, at 8: 00 A.M., a baby
and sauteed him for breakfast
in his frying pan.

And death looks on with a casual eye
and picks at the dirt under his fingernail.

Man is evil,
I say aloud.
Man is a flower
that should be burnt,
I say aloud.
is a bird full of mud,
I say aloud.

And death looks on with a casual eye
and scratches his anus.

Man with his small pink toes,
with his miraculous fingers
is not a temple
but an outhouse,
I say aloud.
Let man never again raise his teacup.
Let man never again write a book.
Let man never again put on his shoe.
Let man never again raise his eyes,
on a soft July night.
Never. Never. Never. Never. Never.
I say those things aloud.

I beg the Lord not to hear.

Comments about After Auschwitz by Anne Sexton

  • Ms Doubtfire (5/15/2020 2:34:00 AM)

    The Lord has granted ALL my wants.(Report)Reply

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  • Sarah ShahzadSarah Shahzad (1/11/2020 12:06:00 AM)

    wow such a wonderful sharing i love it, thanks for sharing.. :)(Report)Reply

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  • Julia Luber (6/27/2019 3:29:00 AM)

    This could have gone on a lot longer.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
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  • Castellenas JohnCastellenas John (4/2/2019 4:11:00 AM)

    Honest, powerful and worthwhile words. Outstanding poetry.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
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  • Nicole SettimiNicole Settimi (3/6/2019 5:39:00 PM)

    'I beg the Lord not to hear. ' - so much in that one line. I always loved this.

    Xx NDS(Report)Reply

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  • Sajmon Krytyk Wszystkiegos (4/13/2018 3:01:00 AM)


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  • Sajmon Krytyk Wszystkiego (4/13/2018 3:00:00 AM)

    Death scratching its, LOL.(Report)Reply

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  • Cody MarksCody Marks (11/23/2016 3:31:00 PM)

    This one hits hard for me as it causes us to reflect on the state of man and whether or not his impact is good, if there is an impact to even make in the first place.(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
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  • Douglas Scotney (8/6/2015 11:09:00 PM)

    death's not as bad as Nazis, so put 'death' where 'Nazis' is and vice versa(Report)Reply

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  • John Richter (8/6/2015 11:51:00 AM)

    This is just another reason Anne is on the top 5 of my favorite poets list.... What an incredible mind... So many great comments below. But Stephen Anne was manic-depressive all of her life, which really doesn't make her crazy, She spent her formidable years living through WWII and finding out with everyone else the atrocities taking place in Europe. Mania-depression can alter the person's perception. What I find so beautiful is my own interpretation of the way she relays her perceptions. Again, what an incredible mind. I must agree with Mc Donald, great damn piece!(Report)Reply

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  • Mc DonaldMc Donald (8/6/2015 11:34:00 AM)

    Great damn piece(Report)Reply

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  • Paul WarrenPaul Warren (8/6/2015 9:03:00 AM)

    A thought provoking poem. I think this whole sordid episode in history was ugly and this poem conveys this. How could people do this to others?(Report)Reply

    Sandra Feldman(6/2/2018 12:54:00 AM)

    Because man has a monster
    Living within,
    It doesn't take much to awaken it,
    For it's only slightly hidden,
    Under his skin

    2 person liked.
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  • Ramesh T ARamesh T A (8/6/2015 4:11:00 AM)

    In the aftermath of Auschwitz execution of Jews, it might be the out pouring of one's feeling full of emotion none can hide as said in this poem indeed!(Report)Reply

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  • Stephen W (8/6/2015 1:29:00 AM)

    A horrible poem, obviously the work of mental illness.(Report)Reply

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  • Fabrizio FrosiniFabrizio Frosini (5/7/2015 5:38:00 PM)

    just to point out:

    After Auschwitz is a poem that was written by Anne Sexton on January 1973. This poem was then included in a volume entitled The Awful Rowing Towards God. It was publish in 1975, a year after her death.

    I've searched for an Analysis of After Auschwitz, and I've found this one by Caroline Coan and Bryan Voit. It is an interesting point of view:


    When I first read the poem After Auschwitz, by Anne Sexton, I thought it was a poem that reflects the horrors of the Nazi regime in Germany. But, after I read it few more times, I began to look at some of the images that she was conveying. The lines “a baby sautéed for breakfast” and “picks at dirt under his fingernail” or “scratches his anus.” These are not pleasant sites to visualize in one’s mind. Sexton could be saying in the line “death looks on with a casual eye, ” she is telling us that with death all round us, we do not even bat an eye over the deaths that are happening at time she wrote this poem, which the Vietnam War was raging, and I think this war influenced her. [..] Anne Sexton uses the references to the Nazi regime in other poems. And according to David Trinidad, he states in his article, “Two Sweet Ladies”: Sexton and Plath’s Friendship and Mutual Influence, he suggests, “Sexton, separated from her husband…divorce poems is littered with dreadful Nazi-isms.”
    I think that Trinidad is right in his assessments that she was angry with her marriage ending and express those feelings in her poems. In the poem, I think she was not literally talking about her husband, but in a more general way of all of mankind. She does not make the reference to men but uses the word “man.” Sexton also thinks that man is a beautiful creature that can have a very dark and evil side to them. I am referring to the lines “Man is a flower” and “Man is a bird” or “miraculous fingers.” But then Sexton shows the evil side with, “should be burnt” and “full of mud” or “but an outhouse” when referring to man. The last soliloquy, Sexton, is wishing for the destruction of all man, but at the end the most powerful line is “I beg the lord not to hear.” Even though she prays that man should be destroyed, she still thinks man is a wonderful creature and should continue to live.


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  • Apratim Mukhopadhyay (12/19/2012 2:58:00 PM)

    Sexton steps out of her cathartic verse fuelled by depression and gives us yet another reason as to why humankind, especially barbarians like the Nazis, cannot be ever trusted. The baby being sauteed is a mortifying image that sticks like hell, and Sexton's despair is made quite apparent in the last line, when the poet of Small Wire discards all hope of divine intervention.(Report)Reply

    8 person liked.
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  • Skyler Addington (4/4/2012 2:21:00 PM)

    Yes it eats everything, especially babies!(Report)Reply

    12 person liked.
    14 person did not like.
  • Ken E Hall (3/3/2010 6:08:00 AM)

    The poem eats your inners eats your emotion and I agree with everything you say, your poem is a fist of truth as nazism melts into hell...deep great work
    regards to you in heaven(Report)Reply

    Stephen W(8/6/2015 1:29:00 AM)

    It is however, not true at all.

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  • Jane Solan-robertson (2/6/2008 12:53:00 PM)

    this poem is amazing, i feel the intense anger. thanks, jane s(Report)Reply

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    9 person did not like.
  • Linda Jacobs (2/3/2008 6:12:00 AM)

    Oh my god! Right on target.... a sad truth... we are not such a noble breed after all.(Report)Reply

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Poem Edited: Wednesday, August 11, 2010

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