Suicide and Poem Courage

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Courage By Anne Sexton

Sometimes the biggest acts of courage happen in the smallest incidents. Growing up in the upper-class, being a model, and then eloping during the Great Depression is not all it is said to be. Dealing with abuse and divorce, poetry was the best kind of therapy for Anne Sexton. She did attend therapy sessions, and they were recorded so that they could be played back as inspiration for her poems. Sexton was hospitalized, and attempted suicide in her life, so her idea of courage might be different than what others may see it. A baby’s first step, men fighting in war, dealing with abuse, and reaching old age are significant signs of courage. As she expresses her view on the subject, it is made clear that people do not need to be a “superhero” to be courageous.

Anne Sexton varies the types of figurative language used in her poem Courage to show the numerous examples of how it is shown, however she used metaphors for the more important things. In the first stanza, courage is being shown in little ways. Sexton’s poem is divided into four stanzas, each representing a different stage in life. The first stanza is childhood. The simile “the child’s first step, as awesome as an earthquake” is unique because it is meant both literally and metaphorically. Earthquakes are large and momentous, likewise is a child’s first step. Other events such as riding a bike for the first time and getting a spanking. This line in the poem (The first spanking when your heart/went on a journey all alone) is personification since a human heart cannot go on a journey, but it is also a metaphor saying the courage the child went through. Finally, in the first stanza, the last metaphor that is used is in the line: “you drank their acid/and concealed it”. The “their” that Anne Sexton is referring to is bullys, abusers, etc. The courage the child is showing is by “drinking the acid” which is representing the hurtful words or abuse, and then hiding the pain felt. The...
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