The poet Omar Sabbagh gives us a meditation on the work ethic of the great painter.
After Van Gogh
Think of a man gone past like this:
unschooled by any length of scholarship,
but still seeing a path through and by
the brimming cup and rip of his seeping madness,
a way of doing things with paint
and an eye, a wholly newly naked way
of haggling with the daylight and the night,
and then to let all the others see the whip-
like pictures built from a mind’s priest-less cathedral.
He made his mark on history, fusing to a trouble
time’s wide white canvas, mimicking the rain,
the fearsome hail-stroke of living. What was natural
to him, his early death, was the very letter of that
early death spelt in the desperate, breathless color
and might that crowned him with their feats
and with the more halcyon golden bells of hindsight.
He died penniless, disregarded, going under
the earth alone; but he’d made, the while, color wonder,
and light made to sunder the gift of light.