Anne Sexton

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

With Mercy For The Greedy - Poem by Anne Sexton

for my friend Ruth, who urges me to make an appointment for the Sacrament of Confesson

Concerning your letter in which you ask
me to call a priest and in which you ask
me to wear The Cross that you enclose;
your own cross,
your dog-bitten cross,
no larger than a thumb,
small and wooden, no thorns, this rose -

I pray to its shadow,
that gray place
where it lies on your letter… deep, deep.
I detest my sins and I try to believe
in The Cross. I touch its tender hips, its dark jawed face,
its solid neck, its brown sleep.

True. There is
a beautiful Jesus.
He is frozen to his bones like a chunk of beef.
How desperately he wanted to pull his arms in!
How desperately I touch his vertical and horizontal axes!
But I can't. Need is not quite belief.

All morning long
I have worn
your cross, hung with package string around my throat.
It tapped me lightly as a child's heart might,
tapping secondhand, softly waiting to be born.
Ruth, I cherish the letter you wrote.

My friend, my friend, I was born
doing reference work in sin, and born
confessing it. This is what poems are:
with mercy
for the greedy,
they are the tongue's wrangle,
the world's pottage, the rat's star.


Comments about With Mercy For The Greedy by Anne Sexton

  • Edward Kofi Louis (11/5/2014 4:44:00 AM)


    Nice piece of wrok. Thanks for sharing this poem with us.

    E.K.L.
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Poem Submitted: Monday, March 29, 2010



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