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Explicate the poem–`The Starry Night`

Anne Sexton’s poem “The Starry Night” is an ekphrasis. poem. An ekphrasis is a type of poem (or other art form) written about another art-form. In “The Starry Night,”Anne Sexton was inspired not only by Vincent Van Goght’s painting of the same title, but by a letter the artist wrote to his brother, which contained the epigraph for Sexton’s poem: “That does not keep me from having a terrible need/of— shall I say the word— religion. Then I go/out at night to paint the stars. ” By including the quotation form Van Goght above the body of her poem, Sexton actually gives the reader the poem’s theme.

This sly trick is compatible with Van Gogh’s technique in the painting “The Starry Night. ” In the painting we see a night sky crowded with swirling clouds, blazing starts with burning halos and a moon which reflects each of the lunar phases in one image. Van Goght’s sky is alive and engages the viewer. By repeating the adjective “starry,” Sexton gains the “crowded” feeling of Van Gogh’s canvas in her stanza. She grasps the “living sky” element in the following lines: “It moves. They are all alive. /Even the moon bulges in its orange irons.

” (Sexton) . The key to Sexton’s masterful ekphrasis seems to lie in her use of compressed diction: “The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars. ”This, like Van Gogh’s hurried, thick brush stroked invokes a sense of both urgency and passion. Sexton’s use of the refrain “This is how I want to die! ” (Sexton) encapsulates the theme of Van Gogh’s paining, that of religious ecstacy, by merging an erotic/death urge with surrealism: “sucked up by that great dragon, to split/from my life with no flag. ”(Sexton).

Sexton’s poem is a wonderful counterpoint to Van Gogh’s painting, a rich example of the artistic and expressive potential of transposing the themes textures and techniques from one art medium to another.

Work Cited

Sexton, Anne. Selected Poems of Anne Sexton Houghton Mifflin,1988. 1 page 1 source MLA Explicate the language and the tone of the poem(`The Starry Night` by Anna Sexton). Indicate the universal and deeper meaning of that poem. (half page) And finally, analyze why that poem is excellent or successful in your opinion ( for example, does it move us or engage our sympathies; does it create an image to readers… ) (half page)

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