Monday, November 07, 2005

The Starry Night by Anne Sexton

The town does not exist
except where one black-haired tree slips
up like a drowned woman into the hot sky.
The town is silent. The night boils with eleven stars.
Oh starry starry night! This is how
I want to die.

It moves. They are all alive.
Even the moon bulges in its orange irons
to push children, like a god, from its eye.
The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars.
Oh starry starry night. This is how
I want to die:

into that rushing beast of the night
sucked up by that great dragon, to split
from my life with no flag,
no belly,
no cry.

This is an efrastic poem! Right? That's the term of poetry responding to art, I believe. In this poem she's writing about Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night, which is quite beautiful I must say. I chose this one because I think Anne Sexton does a really good job of not just poetically writing about this piece of work but really getting into it and letting it emotionally affect her, therefore letting her poem emotionally affect the reader. I also like the slight rhyming scheme through the poem, how subtle it is. I think it's nice because since there isn't a full rhyme scheme in each line it doesn't give it an affected playful feel and flows well, but since some middle and each last line rhymes I think it ties the poem together well. I like the imagery she uses to bring a 2-D painting to life as well, worlds like "alive" (obviously), and "boils" and "swallows," "bulges," "sucked up" all these bring a lot of animation into a flat painting. Another thing I found interesting was the line break of "This is how/ I want to die." where "I want to die" stands all by itself. Going back into Sexton's biography, she was generally a depressed woman and did end up committing suicide, and I feel like this poem seems to be a cryptic waring or covered message as to what she is feeling inside. This makes the poem have much more behind it than just an appreciation for art but almost as a tool for expressing her very serious emotions and thoughts- maybe the things she could not say bluntly but can let out in a poem. The last line is way cool too, "no flag, no belly, no cry." That just sounds cool.


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