Let me just start by saying how much I love the title of “And One for My Dame.” The title alone speaks to so much of what this poem is about: male/female hierarchical roles in the household. Throughout the poem, men travel and explore, while women have no choice but to sit at a desk and review maps of places they will never see. While men have the authority to leave the household for their business, the women’s business is the household itself, and they are imprisoned within its walls.
This poem, written in 1962, is largely critical of the artificial limitations that society has placed on women and foretells the women’s liberation movement a decade later. What I enjoyed most about this poem, though, was the fact that it didn’t cast judgment on men for the societal norms restricting women. It treated the situation as one in which things were the way they were, but didn’t necessarily present the idea that they had to stay that way. Though the poem didn’t cast dispersions on men, however, it does present a very wide gap between the sexes. The poet never discusses the intimacy of the household and relationship between women and men, it only focuses on the great distance between them. What I felt from this poem was that Sexton wants men to know that until the sexes are equal, there can be no true intimacy and love within a household.