To Triumph Essay, Research Paper
In the poem “To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Triumph”, Anne Sexton alludes to the
flight of Icarus and Daedalus and to “To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing” to convey a
message to a friend. I think this poem was written to reassure a friend that what she did was
the right thing. Perhaps a father figure of the friend advised her to do something and she
defied him, making herself feel worried that she did the wrong thing.
William Butler Yeats once wrote a poem titled “To a Friend Whose Work has Come to Nothing”.
It was a poem believed to be written to reassure a friend that what she ended up doing was a
noble thing even though in reality she failed her original task. The title of Sexton’s poem is
an obvious allusion to Yeats’ poem. Sexton changed “Nothing” to “Triumph” in her title.
Sexton’s friend must have been a fellow poet to be able to catch the allusion to Yeats’ poem.
I believe she wanted her friend to know that what she did was the right thing. Perhaps she
compared her friend to Yeats’ friend. Sexton wrote “Think of the difference it made!” referring
to Icarus’ flight. She might have wanted her friend to realize a difference her defying her
The final line of the poem has a comparably different tone than the first 13 lines. The
last line, “See him acclaiming the sun and come plunging down while his sensible daddy goes
straight into town.”, seems more mocking of Daedalus’ flight. It seems that Sexton feels that
Daedalus’ flight was a wasted chance and was in no way adventurous. She might also be comparing
her friend to Icarus, seeing as he too failed his initial task but accomplished something greater
on a global scale. I believe Sexton thought that Icarus’ flight was not foolish or a failure,
but adventurous and a great personal success, even though his satisfaction and personal glory was
short-lived. She wrote “Admire his wings”, “wondrously tunneling”, and “Who cares that he fell
back to the sea”, therefore I think that she doesn’t believe that the fact Icarus plunged to the
sea is important.
Many have used the process of allusion in the past to help convey a meaning of a poem.
A popular example and choice of an allusion topic is the bible or past works of art and
literature. Anne Sexton obviously chose allusion as her method of conveying her emotional
message to her friend.