The Color of Light: Poems on van Gogh's Late Paintings
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Number of Pages: 57
Vendor: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Publication Date: 2007
|Dimensions: 9.25 X 6.25 (inches)|
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Some of McEntyre's poems remind us of the sorrows in the life of this solitary artist and of his infinite longing. Some convey Van Gogh's epiphanies of joy and energy that he expressed in color. According to McEntyre, these paintings invite us to see things in a different light, and her poetry is an act of consent to that invitation, providing an intimate encounter with these great works.
Evocatively pairing art and poetry, The Color of Light is the third of McEntyre's poetry books on Dutch master painters. This volume, like the other two, moves us to reflect not only on the artist's life and faith but also on our own.
Bible ReviewerFloridaAge: Under 18Gender: Female5 Stars Out Of 5To read againMay 16, 2016Bible ReviewerFloridaAge: Under 18Gender: FemaleQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0These lovely poems bring spiritual insights and biblical ties to the late paintings of Van Gogh - a book worth reading many times!
CGender: Female5 Stars Out Of 5Pleasurable experiences in reading and seeing.March 26, 2015CGender: FemaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This book is a small artwork in itself. The illustrations are 20 Van Gogh paintings, some well-known and some not, and 2 details of paintings. (I enjoyed seeing here some Van Gogh paintings Id never seen before, such as the one on front of the dust jacket pictured in this book ad.) There are 21 prose poems alongside the paintings, and so the reader will be looking back and forth from a poem to a painting seeking to see and agree (or disagree) with what the poet sees.
She does sometimes focus, as the books title suggests, upon the meanings that she sees in the color of Van Goghs light, such as when she sees the intense sunlight stored in bright yellow wheat in a painting that is otherwise mostly dark blue sky and black crows.
What the poet sees and writes in her poems is often imbued with her Biblical spirituality and she sometimes alludes to familiar passages in the Bible, as when she writes of certain of Van Goghs lilies that they toil not, but they spin, they spin. Her finding Biblical spirituality in Van Goghs paintings is suitable enough since VG was from a Christian background and had at one time intended to become a minister.
You cant get much out of the book if you read it hurriedly just once. Viewing each painting and reading each poem will have to be a meditative/contemplative process in which you spend some relaxed quiet time with the book, but that could be just 15 minutes on one or more poems now and then. Each poem is only a scant few sentences long and is written in plain English but each is carefully crafted by this English professor who cares about using words mindfully. The book taught me to be patient and spend more time looking at a painting and its details than I usually do.
Some of the poems seemed more poetically crafted than others. For instance, I thought Portrait of Madame Dubac was one such. (But I didnt see the unity of the imagery that was worked into it until Id read it 3 times. Other readers might be quicker than I am to see such things.)
Sometimes, its just a few words or phrases that will leap out from the rest of the poem and strike a spark of delight. For instance, in The Starry Night, a painting that many readers might be familiar with, she begins by asking, What laughter booms across the night sky/ from the bellies of heavenly beings? Few hear it... By the time she comes to the end of the poem, she has alluded to the Crucifixion, which few humans were awake enough to see or hear about. (I think she takes her cue for this allusion from the church at the bottom center of the painting.)
The Olive Trees is about a gnarled but determined-looking orchard under an exceedingly hot-looking olive-green sun in a hot-looking olive-green sky. If the sun came closer,/everything would burn./ Each tree is an act of courage,/ holding its own, making peace/ with the heat and dry ground.... At the end of the poem, God who burned in bush and pillar,/ watches still from behind a veil of fire.... Harsh immolation brings forth blessing. Taste and see.
In Irises, she compares Van Goghs irises not to the irises that stand discreet and demure in a vase on her desk, but contrasts them, seeing them as very active and earthy things: they are rampant and entangled, as though life underground had been an orgy of shared nitrogen, winding roots, and worms. The irises represent a swaying, swinging, blousy blues choir that is so loud with life it echoes still in purple fields.
This book is one of 3 in a series the author has written about Dutch painters. The other 2 books are based on paintings by Vermeer and Rembrandt.
Id grown tired of Van Goghs paintings but this book refreshed in me a liking for them.