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Her Kind

Her Kind


by Anne Sexton

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

Symbol Analysis

Repetition of words, phrases, or syntax allows Sexton to hammer home her points with all the delicacy of a sledgehammer. This poem is built around one central refrain: "I have been her kind." Heck, even the title makes use of it. Such a tight structure helps to craft the sense of a speaker with a very definite sense of herself. She doesn't waffle on the words or phrases that she uses to describe herself. She finds a good phrase, and then she sticks with it.

  • Lines 1, 8, and 15: Starting the first line of each stanza with the repeated phrase "I have" makes the poem something of a declaration. Sexton is defining (and re-defining) her speaker's identity with every stanza – and she does so with no holds barred. She's confident about who she is and who she's been. Repetition reinforces that.
  • Lines 5 and 13: Each stanza builds an image of our speaker's vision of herself…but the fifth line of stanzas one and two turns this image on its head. Line 5 offers a critical description of the character built up in lines 1-4: "out of mind" and "whining," this creature ain't exactly pretty. We're not even sure we'd want to meet her. And the repetition of this shift in perspective sets up a predictable rhythm in the poem's emotional trajectory.
  • Lines 7, 14, and 21: Since we're speaking of repetition, we should mention that the last line of each stanza becomes the poem's refrain – they're identical lines.

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