Because the subject matter was so personal, the work of several prominent mid-twentieth century poets has been termed "confessional" poetry. But confession is a bad metaphor for what those poets did. The motive for confession is penitential or therapeutic – by speaking openly about personal guilt and suffering, the poet hopes to make them easier to bear. But these poets always approached their writing as artists, and their motive was aesthetic. Writing from experiences like madness, despair, and lust, their aim was to make effective art, not to cure themselves. To treat their poems mainly as documents of personal experience is not just to diminish the poets' achievement, but to ignore their unanimous disdain for the idea of confessional poetry.