The mention of death, “This is how I want to die!” (Sexton 5–6) suggests the persona’s suicide ideation, hence confirming the first assumption. The persona is unmindful of the other images in the painting, thus he expresses, “The town does not exist” (Sexton 1). At the lower right side of Van Gogh’s painting is an image of a town with houses that seem to be eaten up by the magnificent clouds. The persona is too focused on the stars in the painting, hence neglects the other things around the stars. This fascination with stars is suggestive of an irony. Normally, happiness is associated with merry-making, having parties, loud music, singing, dancing, etc. However, in the poem, the persona equates happiness with a starry night, gloom, silence, solitariness, and even darkness. Death is thus viewed as a positive experience, a beautiful thought, an attraction.
Madness is the main theme in Fagle’s poem. The persona could likewise be Van Gogh, and the time setting could be before he commits suicide. The persona feels madness creeping in him and tries to fight it and thus pleads, “God deliver me - help me now deliver/all this frenzy back into your hands.” (Fagles 23–24). There is the struggle to keep himself sane. It is interesting to determine what makes the persona insane? The introductory lines bear this idea of insanity, thus: “Long as I paint/I feel myself/less mad (Fagles 1–3). The persona acknowledges the fact about his madness. He believes that painting could keep him from insanity. However, this statement is an anti-thesis because as the readers follow the thoughts of the persona regarding his painting, they will be convinced that painting only makes the persona lose his mind more. In the consequent lines, the persona reveals how deeply he is engrossed with his art that he imagines a “cloudrack ...
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