9 th Grade English I The Starry Night Lesson Melinda J. Hall

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1 9 th Grade English I The Starry Night Lesson Melinda J. Hall Objectives: to read a poem critically to write a personal response to a piece of artwork Procedures: Read The Starry Night by Anne Sexton. Use TP-CASTT and SOAPSIS for analysis and discussion. Read Vincent by Don McLean then listen to the audio recording of the song (from American Pie CD). Use TP-CASTT and SOAPSIS for analysis and discussion. Discuss the painting The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh and biographical information about the painter. Discuss how each poet/song writer used the artwork in his/her respective works. Activity: Students break into small groups to discuss and answer questions about the works in order to complete a Venn Diagram (Open Comparison Contrast) comparing and contrasting the poems. Discuss WHY each of these poets chose to respond to this painting. What was the message/theme conveyed to each poet by the painting? How are the two responses similar to and different from each other? Questions to Assist with Analysis/Discussion of The Starry Night by Anne Sexton 1. Who is the speaker? 2. In the 2 nd and 3 rd stanza, Sexton uses serpent, beast, and dragon. What is the significance of these images? What does each symbolize? 3. What is the contextual meaning of irons in line 8? 4. What does the flag in line 14 symbolize? belly in line 15? 5. Find the various similes and metaphors in the poem. Explain each one. 6. What is the theme of this poem? 7. What is the poet s connection with the artwork? What does the painting represent to her? Vincent by Don McLean 1. Who is the speaker? 2. Who is the you in the poem (line 10)? Who are they (line 13)? 3. What is the contextual meaning of beautiful as McLean uses it line 36? What are the different types of beauty? 4. What are the major sections/divisions of the poem? What is the rhyme scheme of each section? 5. What device does the line A silver thorn, a bloody rose demonstrate? Explain the meaning of this line. 6. What are the patterns you notice, both structural and figurative? 7. What is the theme of this poem/song? 8. What is the poet s connection with the artwork? What does the painting represent to him? Extension: Go to Media Center to use art books and Internet resources. Select a work of art (painting, sculpture anything visual) and write a personal response to the work. You may write a poem, song, story, or art critique. Be creative! Just as the painting belonged to the artist, make your personal response to his/her work your own.

2 Evaluation: Uses Appropriate Voice/Tone Addresses Topic Details Organization Vivid Word Choice A=19-20 B=17-18 C=16 D=14-15 F=13 and under Handouts and Materials: The Starry Night Handout TP-CASTT and SOAPSIS Charts Venn Diagram (Open Comparison-Contrast) Extension: Museum Field Trip: Ekphrasis (Handout/activity can be used for personal response to art.)

3 The Starry Night Anne Sexton 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 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. Anne Sexton ( ) was born in Newton, Massachusetts. She attended Garland Junior College, married at 20, and began a life as a housewife. After a mental breakdown at the age of 28 she took up writing poetry on the suggestion of a therapist. She published eight books of poetry, the third of which won a Pulitzer Prize. Despite her literary success, her life was deeply troubled, and she attempted suicide on several occasions. At last she succeeded, by carbon monoxide poisoning. Vincent Don McLean Starry, starry night Paint your palette blue and gray. Look out on a summer's day With eyes that know the darkness in my soul. Shadows on the hills. Sketch the trees and the daffodils; Catch the breeze and the winter chills In colors on the snowy linen land. Now I understand What you tried to say to me, And how you suffered for your sanity And how you tried to set them free. They would not listen; they did not know how. Perhaps they'll listen now. Starry, starry night Flaming flowers that brightly blaze; Swirling clouds in violet haze Reflect in Vincent's eyes of china blue. Colors changing hue Morning fields of amber grain, Weathered faces lined in pain Are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand. Now I understand What you tried to say to me, And how you suffered for your sanity And how you tried to set them free. They would not listen; they did not know how. Perhaps they'll listen now. For they could not love you But still, your love was true. And when no hope was left in sight On that starry, starry night You took your life as lovers often do. But I could've told you, Vincent, This world was never meant For one as beautiful as you. Starry, starry night Portraits hung in empty halls Frameless heads on nameless walls With eyes that watch the world and can't forget; Like the strangers that you've met The ragged men in ragged clothes, The silver thorn, a bloody rose Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow. Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889, oil on canvas, 29 x 36 ¼ in. (The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Now I think I know What you tried to say to me, And how you suffered for your sanity And how you tried to set them free. They would not listen; they're not listening still. Perhaps, they never will.

4 Title: Poet: SOAPS(IS) TP-CASTT S: Speaker describe T: Title What does the title lead you to believe the poem will be about? O: Occasion describe P: Paraphrase What happens in the poem? Summarize the poem. A: Audience describe C: Connotation Meaning beyond the literal--figurative meaning, imagery, symbolism, etc. P: Purpose explain WHY A: Attitude How does the speaker feel about the subject or events? S: Style HOW it's written(syntax, structure, tone, point of view) S: Shifts Where does the poem shift in tone, language, or plot? I: Images: describe; effect of imagery T: Title Again Revisit the title. Does the author seem to be focusing your attention on any one aspect? S: Sound Devices: identify and explain effect T: Theme What message or universal idea is conveyed through this poem?

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