Poem On Two Paintings of Van Gogh

John Thompson

“The Painter on the Road to Tarascon” and “Wheat Fields with Crows”

In the shattered fire of the dawn

The charred blue noon

Already whispers;

Dark gods point

From the awakening cobblestones

And the still white palm of the corn; 

Unknown birds rustle in the palette.


The flesh is cast down on the road,

A black shadow,

But sailing, blacker

And more swift than the sun;

The pack is full of stars.


The sun knows but cannot

Escape the blue stride full of eyes,

Voracious, intent

On their starry burden, 

Their bright death.


The day blooms into storm;

The skies give up their dead 

From flashing shreds of shroud;

The earth in fear unleashes

Its atrocious abundance:


The fruit is a glittering beak,

The corn a clamor of wings –

Dark harvest!

Through the blue distances, 

Over the drunken fields, 

Sail the sun-devouring birds: 

The hand becomes a twisted cypress leaf, 

The heart in mid-stride 

Welcomes the gentle claw.