Poetry from Paintings

I’m at a part in my novel where my main character, Christian, walks into a room created by her mother that’s identical to a painting Christian’s currently working on. We see Christian’s connection to the painting earlier on the story, but I don’t explain too much about the painting. So right now I’m exploring different ways to help the reader have a decent visual of the painting. And also find creative ways that will bring her creation from the canvas to Christian’s reality. I’ll start with a description of the painting first.

I’d like to try writing about her painting poetically. Here’s what information I’ve found so far which also happens to be my inspiration.

“Painting is silent poetry and poetry is painting that speaks”

— greek philosopher, Plutarch

According to  Kailey Brennan on ReadPoetry.com, “Writers have taken inspiration from famous paintings for decades, penning philosophical or personal musings on their experience with a piece of art. The technical term for such a poem is known as an ekphrastic poem. Poet Alfred Corn wrote an essay on the history of ekphrastic verse, stating ‘once the ambition of producing a complete and accurate description is put aside, a poem can provide new aspects for a work of visual art.’”

And of course just like ReadPoetry.com, we have to start with Anne Sexton’s, The Starry Night”


Starry Night Van Gogh

Inspired by Van Gogh’s painting of the same name, Anne Sexton uses the imagery of a desolate town under the night sky to express her longing for death and her desire to be overpowered by a force greater than oneself. 


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.

What an amazing work of art. This helps me appreciate Anne Sexton in a new way.

I found all the information for this post from Readpoetry.com follow link to support the original author.


Published by Jayne

Jayne is a writer. On her free time she likes to be with her family hiking outdoors and traveling. New England is her home and place of birth. When asked what she wants to teach the world she replied, "Don't stop searching. Too many times, in my old life, I put my search aside for more 'important matters.' I didn't realize the thing I was searching for held what was most important; my soul purpose." Jayne works daily on improving her craft and at times can get down on herself, but her favorite morning mantra is "It's a new day." and that's what she strives to start with.

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