Louise Bisby
Intent Paper
Poetry Performance


The Love Plant



                     When an interpreter really invests his/her time, energy, and passion into a performance, he/she makes that performance dance. Anne Sexton's free-verse poem, The Love Plant was a selection that I was particularly drawn to and one that I wanted to bring alive. I was especially attracted to its variance in line lengths as well as its use of both enjambed and end-stopped lines. This is what helped bring out the uniqueness, indirectness, and underlying ideas embedded within the entire poem. Due to my intertextuality, however, it was not a poem that I could relate to personally; yet I felt that it was one in which I would enjoy dissecting, analyzing, and interpreting. It is my intent that the audience feels the intangible seriousness of this piece and recognizes the possible extremes in which some people may go to actually terminate their pregnancy. Because this selection involves controversial subject matter, I plan to warn my audience of this prior to the initial departure into my piece.

After a brief introduction I will address my ex-lover, using a semi-closed focus. My words are actually a confession of a deep-seeded secret from the past, an overview of the mental anguish I am experiencing, and an anticipation of possible future events. I am speaking in regards to an unintended pregnancy and the discontent, shame, and frustration I'm experiencing as a result of this. The following stanzas further illustrate my point. "I try to force it away. I swallow stones. Three times I swallow slender vials with crossbones on them". At this point in time, I, as the speaker, am so desperate to rid myself of this unborn child that I am willing to, and would rather risk, killing myself, than having this baby.

I imagine a conversation such as this to take place in my living room. I plan to start the scene with myself sitting on my couch talking to my ex-lover who is standing with his back to the audience. I had just invited him over to talk to him about "something important that I thought he should know about". I begin with speaking out loud in the immediate present and then later switch it to the rememberent past when I begin to address my ex-lover directly. Throughout the poem, I shift back and forth between the two tenses until I finally end with the tense of the projected future. Although I am speaking with someone whom of which I used to be incredibly close to and whom I know very well, I intend to speak to him with consultative language because of the current circumstances between us. I speak to my ex-lover with the intent to relieve a past experience, reveal a hidden secret, and to purge and sift through my matrix of emotions.

The Love Plant is a reflective lyric poem, which encompasses communication between the speaker and the audience on a highly symbolic level. "You planted it happily last summer, and I let it take root with my moon-hope, not knowing it would come to crowd me out, to explode inside me this March". Sexton uses a flower to symbolize the developing baby and its continuous growth within the womb. The following question further illustrates the use of symbolism within the poem: "Couldn't one of my keepers get a lawn mower and chop it down it if I turned inside out for an hour?" Once again this is symbolizing the condemnation, dissatisfaction, and desire to rid herself of her developing fetus.

Sexton cleverly enriches her words in one section in particular where she expressed tone color through alliterations. The following sentences illustrate just this: "I swallow stones. Three times I swallow slender vials with crossbones on them." This repetition of the "S" sounds in close proximity to one another makes the words especially appealing in an auditory sense. Sexton further develops her poem with the use of onomatopoeias such as "spurting" and "hisses". I intend to use words such as these to my advantage by combining them with proper tone and diction in order to further emphases the vivid imagery these that these words have the potential to create.

The Love Plant is a reflective lyric poem, which encompasses one woman's account of a life-changing, emotional and physical experience. The struggles and uncertainty that the she faces, along with the author's shaping of the text, help to make this piece interesting, well rounded and complete. Hopefully I can make this poem come alive and dance.




A freak but moist flower


Tangles my lungs, knits into my heart,


crawls up my throat


and sucks like octopi on my tongue.


You planted it happily last summer


and let it take root in my moon-hope,


not knowing it would come to crowd me out


to explode inside me this March.


All winter trying to diminish it,


I felt it enlarge.


But of course I never spoke to you of this,


for my sanity was awful enough,


and I felt compelled only to think of yours


Now that you have gone for always


why does the plant not shrivel up?


I try to force it away.


I swallow stones


Three times I swallow slender vials


with crossbones on them.


But it thrives on their liquid solution.


I light matches and put them in my mouth,


And my teeth melt but the greenery hisses on


I drink blood from my wrists


and the green slips out like a bracelet.


Couldn't one of my keepers get a lawn mower


and chop it down if I turned inside out for an hour?


This flower, this pulp, the hay stuff


has got me, got me.


Apparently both of us are unkillable.


I am coughing, I am gagging. I feel it enter


The nasal passages, the sinus, lower, upper


And thus the brain spurting out of my eyes,


I must find a surgeon who will cut it out burn it out


As they do sometimes with violent epileptics.


I will dial one quickly before I erupt!


Would you have guessed it


If you looked at me swinging down Comm Ave.


in my long black coat with its fur hood,


and my long pink skirt poking out step by step?


That under the coat, the pink, the bra, the pants,


in the recesses where love knelt,


a coughing plant is smothering me?


Perhaps I am becoming unhuman


and should accept its natural order?


Perhaps I am becoming a part of the green world


and maybe a rose will just pop out of my mouth?


Oh passerby, let me bite it off and spit it at you


so you can say "How nice!" and nod your thanks


and walk three blocks to your lady love


and she will stick it behind her ear


not knowing it will crawl into her ear, her brain


and drive her mad.


Then she will be like me&emdash;


a pink doll with frantic green stuffing.

The word "moist" is an example of visual and tactile sensory imagery. Creates a vivid mental image.


The word "crawls" is a kinetic image used as a personification. This creates richness within the text.


The consonances in the repeated "s" sounds are contained in all the verbs. When speaking, I plan to place the emphasis on these verbs.






The word "explode" is a hyperbole or an exaggeration. This further illustrates a negative experience.

The words "it" dehumanizes her unborn baby further illustrating the mother's lack of desire for her baby.















Alliteration. The "S" sound is repeated

in close proximity.







I plan to add a caesura between the words "melt" and "but" to emphasize the "greenery hissing". The word "hisses" is onomatopoeia (an aspect of tone color). It's used here to underline the sense of a word with sound. I will emphasize the "hissing" sound when speaking.



The simile involving the bracelet illustrates visually how the blood looked seeping through the skin of her wrists.









The line "Apparently both of us are unkillable" is the logical climax&emdash;Point of realization that it's really too late to change things. Final realization that the baby is "here to stay". Her reaction to this it in the following stanza.


This is the emotional climax. After this point, the scene instantly changes subject as well as emotional appeal.





















The word "knelt" is a personification used in a metaphorical sense regarding her womb.


















The word "crawl" is a kinetic image used as a personification. This time at the end of the poem instead of the beginning. This creates a sense of completeness by relating the beginning to the end.




Here, Sexton refers to herself as a ‘pink doll'. This metaphor illustrates her feelings of hopelessness. She feels like a doll in the sense that she has no control over her current situation.