Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Isleworth, 1876

Now I am going to tell you about my walk to London. – Vincent van Gogh to his brother, Theo, 7 October 1876

At dawn, Vincent sets out
up the London Road. Starlings
arrow the first autumnal air.

Ahead of him, a round-trip walk
of twenty miles. Hedge mustard tangles
the railings of Syon Park.

How Vincent could preach here,
among the elms! There are few
carts on the road today—

a blessing, for the verges
have turned into mud-pools.
The light is to Vincent’s liking,

changing with the cumulus
that rolls, like him, from the west,
through Kew, Chiswick, Hammersmith

and Kensington; to Hyde Park Corner
and the swank of Piccadilly.
Vincent visits the galleries,

pays homage to Delacroix,
takes it all in. Verses from Hebrews
turn in his mind. Running an errand

for Jones, his employer, he buys
violets for Jones’s wife. He’s a young man
doing his duty; one minute

head-strong with joy, the next
encumbered with bookish
hate and irritability.

A horse-bus fills with workers
as Vincent starts to wander back,
at vivid sundown, towards his home.

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