anne sexton the starry night interpretation
I think Sexton is expressing something similar, here. However, there is of course more violence in Sexton’s desire for death, which I think reflects her suicidal nature and the fact that she would eventually commit suicide. Sexton does not want to simply “cease upon the midnight with no pain”; she wants to be “sucked up by that great dragon, to split/ from my life with no flag,/ no belly,/ no cry.” Sexton wants to be a part of the violent narrative. She wants to be a part of the mythology — the world where the “old, unseen serpent swallows up the stars”. There is religious imagery here with the serpent (the devil), and the moon pushing children “like a god, from its eye”. I think perhaps that — in the same way that Van Gogh painted the stars because he had a “terrible need” for something eternal and sacred — Sexton wanted to die in a glorified way — through suicide, as a tortured poet – in order to join the hosts of dead poets that are immortal because their stories and their work is eternal. Perhaps this poem expresses a sense that Sexton felt suicide would be dramatic and violent and would immortalise her.
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. –Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother
The speaker then completes the poem by describing the true oblivion she seeks: “to split/ from my life with no flag,/ no belly,/ no cry” (14-17). The structure of the last stanza reflects this self-immolation; the lines get shorter, and the poem fades into nothing.
sucked up by that great dragon, to split
It’s wonderful, isn’t it? The Starry night poem is beautiful as it touches hearts connecting the author’s feelings with ours. The Starry night poem was inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s well known painting having the same name – Starry Night. Unlike other poems, this one starts with a quote from a letter sent by Van Gogh to his brother explaining his profound need for religion as an escape from the reality of his world, a need which, when fulfilled, allows him to touch that state of mind and soul that uncover his talent. In such condition, loving painting the stars.
Still, everything around is full of life, even in this stillness of the night. Even the moon is alive changing it’s shape and color continuously. In fact the elements of the sky spinning and creating the twirling shapes in the painting are also a form of life and movement, a way for the painter to show everything’s moving around.
She does not fear the death foreshadowed by nature’s brute force, because it represents release from the burden of life. She also sees the moon as a great dragon that will suck her up into its being. And she desires to fuse silently and painlessly with the infinite, she wants to be a part of mythology, in a world where the “old, unseen serpent swallows up the stars”. and the moon pushes children “like a god, from its eye”.
“The Starry Night”, inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s painting of the same title, is a short, free-verse poem by Anne Sexton where she identifies with another tortured and suicidal artist and makes comparisons between her own life and the masterpiece she is talking about.
It begins with a quote from one of Van Gogh’s letters to his brother, in which he says that, despite himself, he has a deep, “terrible” need for religion, and when he feels this need, he has to go out and “paint the stars”.
Though Van Gogh didn’t want religion in his life, he nevertheless needed the sacred and it was through the creation of art (when he went out at night to paint the stars) that he was trying to understand the holiness of beauty and to make it eternal
I believe the exellent writer Anne Sexton wrote this poem to confirm that she had a great appreciation for art.She wanted to know how Van Gogh felt and she knew exactly what it was like for him.She composed this but could not find it within herself to live.Her imagery and symbolism are exellent.She is dearly missed.
I think Sexton produces incredible imagery in this poem. If one had never seen Van Gogh’s painting, it would still be as captivating. Having seen the painting however, I understand the “this is how I want to die” comment. It is not a depressing thought, or even that dark of a comment. It is purely the statement of the brilliance of the stars in the painting, and how if she could choose how to die, it would be to be sucked up into these fantastic stars. Incredible and wonderful.