Letter from Arles

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BobBradshaw
Posts: 2199
Joined: 03 Jun 2016, 21:03

Letter from Arles

#1 Post by BobBradshaw » 20 Jun 2022, 03:53

V1(revised, with Ieuan's suggestions):

Letter from Arles

Dear Paul, some nights I slipped
into your room as you slept.
A mother standing over her son’s bed
knowing any day

he could leave home,
to strike out on his own,
knows my feeling
of impending loss.

How could I ask you to stay,
you with a wife and children,
and fame awaiting you
in Paris?

I was desperate
the night I found your bed empty.
That’s why I ran out
into the streets calling your name.

But why should I expect loyalty?
Years ago hadn’t I done the same
in abandoning Sien
and her baby?

Released once again, Paul,
from Arles' hospital
I am back in the yellow house,
packing to leave.

In the mirror I can’t hide
from my bandaged ear,
the damage deeper
than I want to admit to.

I am ready for St-Remy’s asylum,
if I’m allowed to paint there.
Surely the staff won’t hover
over me like the hooligans

in the streets here.
Where are you? Is it a sailor’s
instinct to abandon ship?
You should know I am not

a ship’s figurehead
able to shrug off
whatever waves the sea
throws at me.

I hope you never know
despair like mine—
and the fear of it overcoming me
without warning

as if it were an electric storm
--and me without support,
a sole tree
in an open field.

I sense there are more storms
flashing knives
lined up off the coast.
There will be shorter

and shorter periods
between attacks.
The distraction of painting
is my only defense.

Should you write, your letters
will find me at St. Remy,
where there will be others
with my illness.

May you never know
the loneliness of being shackled
to an iron bed—an animal
cowering in its trap.



V3:

Vincent Writes to Gauguin After He Flees Arles

Paul,

I am ready for St-Remy’s asylum,
if I’m allowed to paint there.
Surely the staff won’t hover
over me like the hooligans

in the streets here.
Where are you? Is it a sailor’s
instinct to abandon ship?
You should know I am not

a ship’s figurehead
able to shrug off
whatever waves the sea
throws in front of me.

I hope you never know
despair like mine—
and the fear of it overcoming me
without warning

as if it were an electric storm
--and me without support,
a sole tree
in an open field.

I sense there are more storms
lined up as far as the eyes can see
off the coast.
There will be shorter

and shorter periods
between attacks.
The distraction of painting
is my only defense.

Should you write, your letters
will find me at St. Remy,
where there will be others
with my illness.

May you never know
the loneliness of being shackled
to an iron bed—an animal
shuddering in its trap.


V2:

Vincent

Paul, some nights I slipped
into your room as you slept.
A mother standing over her son’s bed
knowing any day

he could leave home,
to strike out on his own,
knows my feeling
of impending loss.

How could I ask you to stay,
you with a wife and children,
and fame awaiting you
in Paris?

I was desperate
the night I found your bed empty.
That’s why I ran out
into the streets calling for you.

I am now “the mad man”
the neighbors petition
to be handed back to his family—
or dumped in an institution.

I am ready for St-Remy’s asylum,
if I’m allowed to paint there.
Surely the staff won’t hover
over me like the hooligans

in the streets here.
Where are you? Is it a sailor’s
instinct to abandon ship?
You should know I am not

a ship’s figurehead
able to shrug off
whatever waves the sea
throws in front of me.

I hope you never know
despair like mine—
and the fear of it overcoming me
without warning

as if it were an electric storm
--and me without support,
a sole tree
in an open field.

I sense there are more storms
lined up as far as the eyes can see
off the coast.
There will be shorter

and shorter periods
between attacks.
The distraction of painting
is my only defense.

Should you write, your letters
will find me at St. Remy,
where there will be others
with my illness.

May you never know
the loneliness of being shackled
to an iron bed—an animal
shuddering in its trap.



V1:
Vincent

Paul, some nights I slipped
into your room as you slept.
A mother standing over her son’s bed
knowing any day

he could leave home,
to strike out on his own,
knows my feeling
of impending loss.

How could I ask you to stay,
you with a wife and children,
and fame awaiting you
in Paris?

I was desperate
the night I found your bed empty.
That’s why I ran out
into the streets calling for you.

But why should I expect loyalty?
Years ago hadn’t I
abandoned Sien
and her baby?

Released once again, Paul,
from Arles' hospital
I am back in our yellow house,
packing to leave,

the walls sweating salt
and water from a recent flood,
canvases too ruined
to repair.

In the mirror I can’t hide
from my bandaged left ear.
The damage goes much deeper.
Ask my neighbors,

who petition the mayor
to have “the mad man”
handed back to his family
or hauled off to an institution.

I am ready for St-Remy’s asylum,
if I’m allowed to paint there.
Surely the staff won’t hover
over me like the hooligans

in the streets here.
Where are you? Is it a sailor’s
instinct to abandon ship?
You should know I am not

a ship’s figurehead
able to shrug off
whatever waves the sea
throws in front of me.

I hope you never know
despair like mine—
and the fear of it overcoming me
without warning

as if it were an electric storm
--and me without support,
a sole tree
in an open field.

I sense there are more storms
lined up as far as the eyes can see
off the coast.
There will be shorter

and shorter periods
between attacks.
The distraction of painting
is my only defense.

Should you write, your letters
will find me at St. Remy,
where there will be others
with my illness.

May you never know
the loneliness of being shackled
to an iron bed—an animal
shuddering in its trap.



note: This is an old poem, significantly enlarged

BobBradshaw
Posts: 2199
Joined: 03 Jun 2016, 21:03

Re: Vincent

#2 Post by BobBradshaw » 21 Jun 2022, 09:05

Revised

Kenneth2816
Posts: 1540
Joined: 01 Jun 2008, 09:17

Re: Vincent

#3 Post by Kenneth2816 » 22 Jun 2022, 18:03

Your persona poems are some of your best work.
Van Gogh is a tough subject due to the fact so much has been written, it's difficult to come up with something fresh.

St Remy's was where, I think, Van Gogh began seriously considering ending his life. Starry Night was painted from the window view because they did not allow him outside.

Gauguin was a narcissist and held great contempt for Van Gogh. This poem tries to include too much.

Maybe a more brief but powerful poem about a specific time in his life would work better.

BobBradshaw
Posts: 2199
Joined: 03 Jun 2016, 21:03

Re: Vincent Writes to Gauguin After He Flees

#4 Post by BobBradshaw » 23 Jun 2022, 21:53

Thanks, Ken. I have shortened the poem.

Kenneth2816
Posts: 1540
Joined: 01 Jun 2008, 09:17

Re: Vincent Writes to Gauguin After He Flees Arles

#5 Post by Kenneth2816 » 23 Jun 2022, 22:35

I think it offers a better shape shot

BobBradshaw
Posts: 2199
Joined: 03 Jun 2016, 21:03

Re: Vincent Writes to Gauguin After He Flees Arles

#6 Post by BobBradshaw » 24 Jun 2022, 01:20

Thanks, Ken

Kenneth2816
Posts: 1540
Joined: 01 Jun 2008, 09:17

Re: Vincent Writes to Gauguin After He Flees Arles

#7 Post by Kenneth2816 » 24 Jun 2022, 05:54

I meant to say snap shot but didn't have my glasses on

BobBradshaw
Posts: 2199
Joined: 03 Jun 2016, 21:03

Re: Vincent Writes to Gauguin After He Flees Arles

#8 Post by BobBradshaw » 24 Jun 2022, 07:50

Lol… no worries

FranktheFrank
Posts: 1693
Joined: 02 Mar 2016, 18:07
Location: Between the mountains and the sea

Re: Vincent Writes to Gauguin After He Flees Arles

#9 Post by FranktheFrank » 25 Jun 2022, 18:18

I think v1 is preferable to the truncated v3.

V1:
Vincent
V1:
Vincent

Paul, some nights I slipped
into your room as you slept.
A mother standing over her son’s bed [a mothering instinct]
knowing any day [watching over you]

he could leave home, [a son who could drift away]
to strike out on his own,
knows my feeling [even though he would know]
of impending loss. [the dread of an impending loss]

How could I ask you to stay,
you with a wife and children,
and fame awaiting you
in Paris?

I was desperate
the night I found your bed empty.
That’s why I ran out
into the streets calling for you. [calling your name]

But why should I expect loyalty?
Years ago hadn’t I [hadn't I done the same]
abandoned Sien [in abandoning Sien]
and her baby?

Released once again, Paul,
from Arles' hospital [from Arles]
I am back in our yellow house, [back in the yellow house]
packing to leave,

the walls sweating salt [could leave this stanza out]
and water from a recent flood,
canvases too ruined
to repair.

In the mirror I can’t hide
from my bandaged left ear. [my bandaged ear]
The damage goes much deeper. [the damage more than a flesh a wound]
Ask my neighbors, [to the neighbours regret]

who petition the mayor [could leave this stanza out]
to have “the mad man”
handed back to his family
or hauled off to an institution.

I am ready for St-Remy’s asylum,
if I’m allowed to paint there. [they let me paint in there]
Surely the staff won’t hover
over me like the hooligans [like holliagns]

in the streets here.
Where are you? Is it a sailor’s
instinct to abandon ship?
You should know I am not

a ship’s figurehead
able to shrug off
whatever waves the sea
throws in front of me. [throws at me]

I hope you never know
despair like mine—
and the fear of it overcoming me
without warning

as if it were an electric storm [suggest you merge three three stanzas into one]
--and me without support,
a sole tree
in an open field.

I sense there are more storms
lined up as far as the eyes can see
off the coast.
There will be shorter

and shorter periods
between attacks.
The distraction of painting
is my only defense.

Should you write, your letters [Your letters will find me]
will find me at St. Remy,
where there will be others
with my illness.

May you never know [I'm like animal shackled
[in an iron trap]
[waiting for the death blow]
[and release]
the loneliness of being shackled
to an iron bed—an animal
shuddering in its trap.


Bob, I see you really love this poem. a little bit verbose in places. I like the idea of lighting and Vince a lone tree in an open field.
Soometimes we overwork a poem, I hope you get it right to suit you. Some thoughts for your attention.

BobBradshaw
Posts: 2199
Joined: 03 Jun 2016, 21:03

Re: Vincent Writes to Gauguin After He Flees Arles

#10 Post by BobBradshaw » 25 Jun 2022, 18:46

Thanks, Ieuan. You make a lot of suggestions, and I can take advantage of some of them. Your advice will make v1 considerably better. It is too long. Let me see how it turns out.

FranktheFrank
Posts: 1693
Joined: 02 Mar 2016, 18:07
Location: Between the mountains and the sea

Re: Vincent Writes to Gauguin After He Flees Arles

#11 Post by FranktheFrank » 26 Jun 2022, 03:25

Perhaps in the last line,

Cowering in the trap.

Title suggestion

Letter from Arles

Start with:

Dear Paul . . .

BobBradshaw
Posts: 2199
Joined: 03 Jun 2016, 21:03

Re: Letter from Arles

#12 Post by BobBradshaw » 26 Jun 2022, 04:32

Thanks, Ieuan… I have applied your suggestions. I like the simpler title. I am not sure about cowering vs shuddering. Maybe shuddering has slightly better sonics? Dunno

capricorn
Posts: 376
Joined: 21 Sep 2017, 23:23

Re: Letter from Arles

#13 Post by capricorn » 29 Jun 2022, 03:20

Hi Bob,

A very moving poem, the last stanza is so sad. On first read I can see nothing to change only perhaps this stanza

I sense there are more storms
lined up as far as the eyes can see
off the coast.

Perhaps for conciseness

I sense more storms
are lined up as far as eyes can see

also is 'as far as the eyes can see a bit cliche? I'm not sure.

Anyway I really enjoyed the read.

Eira

BobBradshaw
Posts: 2199
Joined: 03 Jun 2016, 21:03

Re: Letter from Arles

#14 Post by BobBradshaw » 29 Jun 2022, 04:56

Thanks, Eira. Good point. I have changed the stanza to;

I sense there are more storms
flashing knives
lined up off the coast.
There will be shorter

capricorn
Posts: 376
Joined: 21 Sep 2017, 23:23

Re: Letter from Arles

#15 Post by capricorn » 30 Jun 2022, 23:05

BobBradshaw wrote:
29 Jun 2022, 04:56
Thanks, Eira. Good point. I have changed the stanza to;

I sense there are more storms
flashing knives
lined up off the coast.
There will be shorter
Yes Bob - that is brilliant now.

Eira

BobBradshaw
Posts: 2199
Joined: 03 Jun 2016, 21:03

Re: Letter from Arles

#16 Post by BobBradshaw » 30 Jun 2022, 23:20

Thanks, Eira

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