I was listening to Fever Ray’s cover of Peter Gabriel’s song “Mercy Street” from the 1986 “So” album.

Fever Ray – Mercy Street

The original was written as a tribute to the American poet, Anne Sexton. She lived her life (1928-1974) in and around Boston / New England. Not a very happy life. She spend a lot of her time in and out of mental institutions. A variety of diagnoses (“hysteria”) but it would today probably be called bipolar disorder. She certainly knows how to write about depression. There’s more than a touch of Sylvia Plath about her. Both are demented Orphelia characters struggling not to let go of their youth and refusing to come to terms with middle age and the inevitability of death. Both took their own lives – asphyxiation using ovens or cars. In Sexton’s case, she was 46.

There’s a good video on YouTube that interleaves Peter Gabriel – Mercy Street with Anne Sexton reading “All My Pretty Ones” which is about the death of her father three months after the death of her mother. Sad but touching.

In my dream,
drilling into the marrow
of my entire bone,
my real dream,
I’m walking up and down Beacon Hill
searching for a street sign —
namely MERCY STREET.
Not there.

A link to Anne Sexton reading many of her poems is here: