Sunday, April 17, 2011

Understanding The Starry Night

I am currently taking an English class called 'Ways of Reading'. And while, I already know how to read, I must admit that there are so many different levels to reading and understanding text.
The class has covered; plays, poetry, fiction, movie scripts, even music and architecture. All of this is viewed through a lens of deeper understanding: Level 1 covers plot, over-all story structure, characters, setting, etc. Level 2 digs in deeper as we analyze the relationship between characters, the literary devices the author uses and why, subplots and alternative meanings. And the last level, Level 3: deals with extreme sub-text, understanding the author's background and motivation for writing the piece, re translating the theme and values of the text in light of what we know of the author.
My biggest issue with this class is that I have three other classes and so I can't spend the time I want to really dig deeper into this subject. I have been developing a liking (that borders on love and possible obsession) with the act of literary analysis. Every time I open a book I can't help but think, 'what is the author really trying to say?', as if all text had some hidden meaning nestled inside of it, ready to be pried out, riddles ready to be solved.
The class has also opened up a lot of literary works for me that I would not have paid too much attention to. Poetry that I did not know existed. Such as the following:
The Starry Night by: Anne Sexton

The town does not exist
except where one black-haired tree slips
up like a drowned woman into a hot sky.
The town is silent. The night boils with eleven stars.
Oh starry night! This is how
I want to die.
It moves. They are all alive.
Even the moon bulges in it's orange irons
to push children, like a god, from it's eye.
The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars.
O 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.


  1. Thank you! Gosh it's been so hard to get on here to write and respond recently. So much to do! Thank you for your kind words.