How does the prevailing meter of the poem "Her Kind," by Anne Sexton, keep the poem moving? Poem: Her Kind Author: Anne Sexton

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susan3smith eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Her Kind," by Anne Sexton, is based on an extended metaphor of a witch.  The speaker compares herself to a "possessed witch" who has ventured out into the night, inhabited warm caves, and been hurt and tortured by the person to whom the poem is addressed.  The rhythm and the meter of the poem reflect the haunting chant of a witch, which serve to propel the poem to its bitter conclusion.   Beginning the majority of the lines with a trochaic foot, Rich uses primarily trochaic tetrameter.  However, she breaks the rhythm from time to time with an anapestic or dactylic foot, or an iambic line.  You can see the break most clearly in the last two lines of each stanza.

A wo' l man like that' l is not' l a wo' l man quite' l

I have been' l her kind' l  

In the way I read these lines, the prevailing iambic meter of these last two lines is broken with an anapestic foot, still in keeping with the chanting tone of the piece.  The last line becomes a two-foot line (dimeter).  The poem moves by the lilting rhythm of the lines, the repetition of "I have" at the beginning of the first and last lines of the stanza, and the repetition of the monosyllabic words of the last line.  The initial brave and defiant witch becomes a misunderstood woman who has suffered much at the hands of another (a former lover?) and is metaphorically ready to die.