A Lifetime Of Guilt

  • Category: English
  • Words: 914
  • Grade: 89
A Lifetime of Guilt

In Anne Sexton's "The Abortion" and Lucille Clifton's "The lost baby poem," both poets explore the effects of abortion. These two poems reveal the horrifying emotional trauma that a woman experiences when she decides to have an abortion. Through Sexton and Clifton's eloquent yet poignant words the reader obtains a feeling of what a woman suffers when making a decision to have an abortion. Feelings of regret and remorse dwell inside of a woman for the rest of her life when making a decision as grave as that. "The Abortion" and "The lost baby poem" both make use of imagery, repetition and symbolism as a means to communicate the feeling of giving up a child. These two poems show the reader that no matter how you communicate your poetry whether it follows a certain pattern like "The Abortion" does or if it is free verse like "The lost baby poem" the same message can be expressed just as strongly.
        In "The Abortion," Anne Sexton communicates the pain and remorse of giving up a child to abortion. This poem has a distinct form: three line stanzas with an A-B-A rhyme scheme separated by a repeating sentence that breaks up the pattern every three stanzas. The repeating sentence, along with the title tells the reader directly what the poem is about "Somebody who should have been born is gone." The repetition of this sentence is a ringing in the speaker's ears of what she has done. It is a constant reminder of something that she can never take back. In the first three-line stanza, Sexton describes a "bud puffing from its knot" exemplifying the beginning of something, in this case a life. The second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth stanza, Sexton explains scenery that is typically beautiful, as being dull and dreary, this is a result of the remorse and guilt that the speaker feels for having an abortion "roads sunken in like a gray washboard . . . even the sky grew thin like a high window looking nowhere." In line 10 the reader is made aware of the undying guilt felt by the speaker "in truth, the ground cracks evilly," this sentence shows the reader that the speaker feels that she truly did something evil and she can never take it back.
In "The lost baby poem," Lucille Clifton presents us with a speaker who dwells over the child she chose not to have. This poem does not have a particular form, but nonetheless it still employs imagery and symbolism. In this poem the speaker explores the issue of abortion and the severe impact it has on a woman. Throughout the poem the reader is made to feel compassion for the speaker in view of the fact that it becomes apparent while reading the poem that the baby had to be sacrificed because of financial difficulties that the speaker encounters at the time that the baby was conceived. At the beginning of the poem the speaker's immaturity is shown "when did I know about waters rushing back what did I know about drowning or being drowned," during this point of the poem the speaker does not foresee the lasting repercussions of her decision, she perhaps made a rash decision because she was not mature enough to realize what she was actually doing. Nonetheless she feels undying guilt, although she feels justified in her decision she still feels the need to explain and apologize to the lost baby "if you were here I could tell you these and some other things." However by the end of the poem she goes through a transformation when she states "if I am ever less then a mountain for your brothers and sisters let the rivers pour over my head," here she makes a promise to make it up to the lost baby by forsaking everything to the lost baby's brothers and sisters.
Although "The Abortion" and "The lost baby poem" do not utilize the same style of poetry they both convey similar messages. In both poems the speaker is articulating the loss of an unborn child, and the painful decision of giving it up. Both poems use vivid imagery to get across their point. "The lost baby poem" is filled with images that symbolize the guilt associated with giving up a child "the time I dropped your almost body down down to meet the waters under the city and run with one with the sewage to the sea." Later in the poem Clifton goes on to say, "you would have been born into winter", this symbolizes death and financial troubles. In "The Abortion", Sexton describes the roads and the grass as a means to get her point across "the grass as bristly and stout as chives . . .the road was as flat as a sheet of tin.
It is evident in both "The Abortion" by Anne Sexton and "The lost baby poem" by Lucille Clifton that the feeling of guilt and remorse run deep within both speakers. Although the authors use contrasting writing styles, the main point is displayed in both poems eloquently. No matter how an author writes about abortion the fact still remains that there is an undeniable pain associated with this horrible experience. The fact of the matter is that a woman can never get over something like this and therefore whenever writing about it, despite the different ways it can be presented, it all comes down to one emotion.
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