In class today we began discussing the ways that you can view language and poetry in much the same way you view art – paintings, and photographs.  First, we discussed that we’ll be trying to answer the questions:

  • Why would you use certain poetic devices?
  • How does using these devices change the meaning/theme of a poem?

Throughout this unit we’ll be working on answering these questions together for each of the poetic devices we encounter, and recording them on our “How and Why of Language” chart, which you can access by clicking here.

Next, we discussed the different elements that catch our eye or that we notice when we look at a picture or work of art. We discussed how bright colors catch our eye, and that sometimes we even associated certain meanings or feelings with these colors (i.e. red = danger, yellow=warm, blue=sad, depressed, cold). You guys did a great job of making connections between some of the artistic elements and similar literary elements:

Artistic Element Poetic/Literary Element
Color Imagery, or Symbolism
Texture Imagery
Images Imagery
Lines/Movement Line breaks, stanzas, enjambment
Lighting Imagery
Level of detail Imagery
Emotion Mood/Tone
Contrast Juxtaposition




Next, we looked at a series of images, and you guys analyzed the artistic elements that caught your eye – you did a great job of noticing the use of contrast and line, as well as texture, to draw our attention to certain parts of the image. You also did a good job of discussion the possible connotative meaning of these images – focusing on the symbolism behind the shapes and colors.
















After all this, we zoomed out and looked at the painting as a whole, Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”. We discussed how, just like a poem, you can analyze small parts of a work of art and still find details and insight – but without looking at everything as a whole, you cannot determine the theme or meaning.

Now, you will read the poem about this painting by Anne Sexton, titled “The Starry Night”. As you read this poem, look back and the painting and make connections. Look at Sexton’s use of imagery, personification and metaphor – how are they similar to the techniques Van Gogh used to create his painting?

Click here to read Anne Sexton’s “The Starry Night”

Finally, be sure to answer the writing prompt below over the poem by Anne Sexton – you must cite your evidence in MLA format. Remember, you will include the author’s last name and line numbers, and use a bracket to indicate when there should be a line break.

“…This is how/I want to die” (Sexton 5-6).

The prompt: 

  • What is the main idea of the poem that is reinforced through the refrain?
  • How is this main idea also reinforced through other poetic devices throughout the poem?