“Ici Repose Vincent van Gogh” by Peter Nicholson




Not here the slippage
Of motive, the bull market,
Dressage of cocktail and auction;
Neither the victory lap nor prize.
And yet, pushed out, vertiginous paint,
Cypress and flower spinning,
Nature’s cusp stubbed on canvas,
A bandaged head staring with love,
And that alone, at each malignant defeat.

Ours is a tepid dreaming
With not even the courage of beauty.
We wish our Age of Noise
To be an almanac footnoted,
Its mug celebrities
Caught in silverfish pages,
But still we won’t avoid
An empty room dimming our glamour.

Theories puffed, the boast
Of a thousand critical niceties,
Are shed in the fierce night,
One name cast
Near sulphurous soil,
Whose paintings keep,
For we who believe
Not in greatness, nor the strength of art,
In the space reserved for grace,
The sharktooth eye
Of a winnowing field
And yellow starlight shining.



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