From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.



by Anne Sexton

Stanza 1 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 1-5

You always read about it:
the plumber with twelve children
who wins the Irish Sweepstakes.
From toilets to riches.
That story.

  • Note! Before you tackle this poem line by line, Shmoop would strongly recommend heading over to this site to read the Grimms' version of "Cinderella." That way you'll have an easier time following along. Not totally necessary, but definitely worth some Shmoop Extra Credit.
  • Hold on one second, you say. I've never read anything about a plumber winning the Irish Sweepstakes. I'm not even Irish! (You can skip that last part if you are, in fact, Irish.) 
  • All that may be true, but what the poem is aiming at here isn't for you to recall a specific story. It's just one example of a more general kind of story—the kind you often hear about, where somebody poor wins the lottery and suddenly goes from rags to riches (or in this case, from toilets to riches). 
  • In fact, these kinds of stories have a collective name: "Cinderella stories." And hey, "Cinderella" is the title of the poem! Most readers are familiar with the fairy tale (which we'll be getting to in a minute), so we can see the parallels here: instead of Cinderella winning the prince, it's a plumber winning the lottery. Same outcome, though—they live happily ever after.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...