Vincent

Noting the 30 March 1990 opening by Queen Beatrix of the commemorative exposition ‘Vincent van Gogh his Centenary Year’ at the Kröller-Müller museum.

Sunlight in a miles-long forest,
and the Queen.
No fantasy, it’s the Opening
for his centenary year.
Someone says some words
then She goes in,
and all of us troop after,
passing glass walls
letting sun stream
on his pictures and drawings
and sketches and studies
that impress and
outnumber us
even though he started late
and at thirty-seven he died.

He never visited Kröller-Müller,
this airy, blocky museum,
centrepiece
of the Hoge Veluwe state park,
where, outside,
Barbara Hepworth’s
heavier pieces
and those of
counted others
punctuate sandy spaces
grazed by deer, rooted
by sus scrofa,
and overseen by hawks;
but he hangs here.

We hang around
and pretend to listen
to those that we talk to,
enjoying the wine
that isn’t good
or at all bad
but is here
where he hangs

sometimes on loan
from other places,
the permanent collection
augmented for these days
of celebration
with canvasses, papers,
pigments, palette smears
and also some letters
to his brother for money,
which he got.
Almost nothing sold then.
All’s sold out now.

With all this output,
this outpouring,
how many of his paintings
did he do daily?

All of them:
the three begun
and finished yesterday
except for drying,
the greys-and-browns
earthen people of then,
the riotous colours
of Arles to come;

nights of loud talking
and visitors,
someone’s urgencies;

mornings’ cover-ups
confusing roles
and gender.

All of them:
myriad paintings
waving himon
the thin end
of brushes
that scored their
surfaces
with visual sounds
that consumed him,

ignoring his cries
and the small hint
of blood under nails.

He hangs here
in them all,
the creations
that used him
as gateway
into what
passes
for our souls.

And when they’d
had enough
they laid him down.

2 thoughts on “Vincent

  1. Fantastic poem , Alan. It’s so sad that when he was alive, no one bought his paintings, except so far I know his brother bought one, and supported him financially indeed…

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