The Art Of Diction In Anne Sexton's Music Swims Back To Me

1046 words - 4 pages

Diction is defined as the choice of words or the vocabulary in a poem or story. In Anne Sexton's masterpiece "Music Swims Back to Me", Sexton uses diction to her advantage to entice the reader and create visual images to convey a message. Her word choice uncovers hidden meanings of words and phrases to tell what it was like for her to be institutionalized. Sexton's choice of a dark tone adds another element to the poem.

Anne Sexton's diction breathes life into "Music Swims Back to Me" because her use of words with double meanings and certain subliminal thoughts of the way words sound. The phrase, "Oh, la la la, the music swims back to me" not only has a musical quality, it also renders elusive thoughts. Sexton's use of "oh, la la la" allows the poem to flow on giving it a poetic rhythm and can trigger thoughts of a psychotic person (la la...looney bin). Anne Sexton is able to use an eluded symbolism in the line "It was the strangled cold of November; / even the stars were strapped in the sky." If one ponders the thought and the setting of the poem, one will realize her choice of words, is supposed to be describing herself being strapped in a straight jacket, as she would have been when she entered mental institutions numerous times.

In "Music Swims Back to Me" Anne Sexton is able to put forth symbolism with her concrete diction and wording of phrases. Lines four to seven read, "There are no sign posts in this room, four ladies over eighty in diapers every one of them. / la la la, oh music swims back to me." In this grouping or phrase of sorts, by selecting word carefully and with placement such as, "four ladies over eighty / in diapers every one of them." Sexton is able to put across a message. In this case, she is trying to show, that these women "are gone" Sexton is trying to convey that these women are now helpless and have no control over what they do or what happens. Sexton implies they have been institutionalized for so long and that is what may happen to her, if she does not leave.

Anne Sexton also accomplishes her goal of laying down a tone and setting with her diction. By using carefully selected phrases to the effect of, "strangled cold", "stars were strapped in the sky / and that moon to bright / forking through the bars to stick me / with a singing in the head / I have forgotten all the rest." Sexton conveys darkness and an eerie sense and style of imagery. The darkness that is conveyed helps set the strange mood that is of a dark and black humor. When Anne Sexton reads "Music Swims Back to Me" she emphasizes her "key" words, and speaks with a humorous tone, and when she says words like "crazy" and "music swims back to me" her cackling voice gives away her meaning...

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