Continuing on the theme of 19th century masters (an earlier post this week featured Paul Cézanne) here’s a poem by Irish poet Derek Mahon (whose work was featured previously here) about Vincent Van Gogh:

A Portrait of the Artist

(for Colin Middleton)

Shivering in the darkness
Of pits, slag-heaps, beetroot fields,
I gasp for light and life
Like a caged bird in spring-time
Banging the bright bars.

Like a glow-worm I move among
The caged Belgian miners,
And the light on my forehead
Is the dying light of faith.
God gutters down to metaphor—

A subterranean tapping, light
Refracted in a glass of beer
As if through a church window,
Or a basin ringed with coal-dust
After the ritual evening bath.

Theo, I am discharged for being
Over-zealous, they call it,
And not dressing the part,
In time I shall go south
And paint what I have seen—

A meteor of golden light
On chairs, face and old boots,
Setting fierce fire to the eyes
Of sun-flowers and fishing boats,
Each one a miner in disguise.

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