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Original Poem: "Lovers in The Poet's Garden, Arles 1888"

Writing poetry became my major composing activity circa 1962, & Mr. Malcolm Sedam's creative writing class in 1963-64 deepened my interest.

Vincent van Gogh's The Poet's Garden, Arles 1888

Introduction and Text "Lovers in The Poet's Garden, Arles 1888"

My original poem, "Lovers in The Poet's Garden, Arles 1888," from "The Vincent Poems" in Turtle Woman & Other Poems, is an American sonnet (or Innovative sonnet) based on the traditional Petrarchan or Italian sonnet. It features two quatrains and a sestet, but without rime and without the customary rhythm of the traditional Italian sonnet.

(Please note: The spelling, "rhyme," was introduced into English by Dr. Samuel Johnson through an etymological error. For my explanation for using only the original form, please see "Rime vs Rhyme: An Unfortunate Error.")

Lovers in The Poet's Garden, Arles 1888

He says, 'now we are holding hands, no longer separated,'
She hesitates, 'yes,' and her palm moistens, a palm that
Was ice cold only a moment ago, she wants him, she's
Sure of that, but she has a husband, God, what can she

Say to make this right? maybe she has no husband at all—
Maybe she is only 18 and still a virgin—no, decades
And children have filled her pages, but he is young,
Much younger than she is, and he is not a virgin,

'I am staying at this address,' he hands her the address,
'She will not return for six weeks, we can meet there, alone,
If you like,' 'I like, I will meet you there,' she is not shy,
His hat covers his head, and please notice that the faces
Are not distinguishable, let's keep it that way for her family
And for her who will return to him in six weeks.

Commentary

What might be the thoughts of the couple strolling through Vincent van Gogh's painting, The Poet's Garden, Arles 1888? The possibilities may not be endless, but they are open to individual interpretation.

First Quatrain: The First Lover Speaks

He says, 'now we are holding hands, no longer separated,'
She hesitates, 'yes,' and her palm moistens, a palm that
Was ice cold only a moment ago, she wants him, she's
Sure of that, but she has a husband, God, what can she

The first lover voices to his paramour the fact that they are now "holding hands"— altering the reader that this relationship is quite new and the hand-holding stage has now been reached. She is nervous yet obviously anticipating each new step.

Her hands begin to sweat, the extreme opposite of "only a moment ago" when her hands were icy cold. She is willing for this relationship to progress, but then a sticky thought pokes into her brain: she is married and she begins to ponder the ramifications of an adulterous affair.

Second Quatrain: Her Admissions

Say to make this right? maybe she has no husband at all—
Maybe she is only 18 and still a virgin—no, decades
And children have filled her pages, but he is young,
Much younger than she is, and he is not a virgin,

She asks how to "make this right" — knowing full well that the only way to do that is not to do what she is about to do. But instead of fleeing the adulterous scene, she begins to fantasize that she is not really married, that she is only an 18 year old virgin.

Suddenly, snapped back to reality, she admits she is decades past virginity, and she even has children. But her lover is young though he is also not a virgin.

Sestet: The Assignation

'I am staying at this address,' he hands her the address,
'She will not return for six weeks, we can meet there, alone,
If you like,' 'I like, I will meet you there,' she is not shy,
His hat covers his head, and please notice that the faces
Are not distinguishable, let's keep it that way for her family
And for her who will return to him in six weeks.

The young adulterer hands to the older adulteress the address of the place where they may meet to climb the stairway to the next step in their coupling. And he reveals that he also has a mate. But his mate will away for the next six weeks. He tells her they can meet at that address to be "alone." And then adds, "If you like." She likes and tells him she will meet him there; she is not shy.

The poet's speaker then draws the reader’s attention to the painting, Vincent van Gogh's The Poet's Garden, Arles 1888, how the man’s hat "covers his head" and that the faces are not clear for either of the guilty pair. The poet then asks that everyone keep the identity of the pair secret for sake of the woman’s family and the young man’s partner "who will return to him in six weeks."

The Vincent Poems

My series of poems called "The Vincent Poems" features 22 poem based on 22 paintings of Vincent van Gogh. Other entries in this series include, poems based on the following: The Potato Eaters, Night Café, La Berceuse, Wheatfield with a Reaper, and what is thought to be van Gogh's last painting, Wheat Field under Threatening Skies with Crows.

My forthcoming articles will eventually include all the above poems with the paintings that inspired them, along with commentaries on each poem. Poems and paintings are natural pairing in the art world, and even short fiction could coalesce around good painting. The world of fine art remains a glorious place to visit and heavenly place to work.

© 2019 Linda Sue Grimes

Comments

Linda Sue Grimes (author) from U.S.A. on July 23, 2019:

Thank you for the kind words, Brenda!

Yes, it is marvelous to have great paintings in one's art world. Paintings and poems do seem to speaker to each other, as they tickle the fancy of the poet during the composing process.

Thank you for commenting. Have a blessed day!

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on July 23, 2019:

I enjoyed reading your work. Your descriptions were so vivdly accurate capturing the essence of her feelings.

I love poetry which descibes artwork...it goes hand in hand.

Great job.