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(1942 / London)

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Van Gogh's Sunflowers in a Lothian field

First Visit

Sunflowers among camomile and borage,
spread and patterned on a Van Gogh frame,
a field of folk art, farmer's art, so strange
stared at by back-packers, making front page news,
paparazzi and art students forming queues
by a path down the margin of fearful green,
shadow-blue, russets of hedgerows.
Sunbursts of foliage threaten to unhinge
the ragged acreage of apparent posy, foreign
geraniums, an anthology, porringer of fat fox-grass,
wheats, wild oat, purplish burdock, all your range
of old sandstones, colours you could scrounge
from arboreta, tigerlilies or tangerines -
a riotous fieldful of rhymes for orange.

Second Visit

How to translate this tortuous artist, crazed
by his brilliant eye, from the hot fulness of France,
his frilled language the colours of late romance,
his pointillism like the seeds of words
rushed into growth-swirls; how to make
his pictures into lowlands' give-and-take
of flat and formless pasturage? This mad try
by a boy down the dune-lands, echoes the essays
of the invincible brush that wasn't, being French, Victorian.
It's not the nothing that ever happens, while I wonder
what turns this Jimmy into a Florian:
in the weird edges of creativity where I wander
everything never happens at once.
Which siècle is this the fin de?

Submitted: Thursday, December 26, 2013


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Poet's Notes about The Poem

from Looking for Scotland 1996. First stanzahas eight rhymes for orange

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