In the old madhouse
of Van Gogh's bed
Confined here at his own request, after he had threatened his friend Gauguin with a razor. "The gardens provide me with plenty of subject matter", he wrote to his beloved brother Theo. "However the landscape of Saint-Rémy is very attractive and I expect I shall gradually become acquainted with it."
I look out through the barred window. Yes, I know that view, of burning olive trees spiralling against a livid sky. And here, too, in his room.
the straw bottomed chair
consuming the light
Another of the painter's letters to Theo comes to mind. "The vineyards I have just painted are green, crimson, yellow, with violet bunches of grapes. What a symphony of precious colours!"
A whole bewitching afternoon to inhabit with all my senses paintings now so familiar we no longer see them.
On calendars and cards
the same dark cypresses
their acrid scent
In the end the sheer intensity of Van Gogh's reality became more than he could bear.
It is now a hundred and fifteen years since he took his life.