Original Poem: "Power of Color" with Commentary

Updated on June 27, 2020
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

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 Starry Night"

Source

Introduction and Text of "Power of Color"

My poem, "Power of Color," demonstrates the van Goghian assertion that the act of creating fetches forth a power not recognized before the act began. The power of creation itself stimulates the soul recourses to assert their dominance over inertia to produce a new product in the natural order.

Power of Color

"While painting, I feel a power of color in me that I did not possess before.” —Vincent van Gogh

They talked in a fresh wash of sunshine.
She led him through her garden. Blushing
Tomatoes, cucumbers almost ready,
Bordered by marigolds. The Starry Night
Became a symbol for fondling poems
As they listened for the voice that calls
Lovers to touch. She leaned into that star-studded
Piece, touching the skin of paint with the tips
Of her fingers. Her tongue imagined the soft pressure
Of lips and she believed the wet lie his tongue was telling.
His germ took root in her soul: Sprouting green thoughts—
The red of a kiss—The gold of fingertips on skin—Gazing
Blue eyes. Writing poems, she feels the power of color
In her that she did not possess before the touching.

* * *

A version of “Power of Color” appears in “The Vincent Poems” in my published collection titled Turtle Woman & Other Poems.

Commentary

The epigram to my poem, “Power of Color,” is a quotation by Vincent van Gogh, and I, thus, incorporate the van Gogh painting in the poem, echoing the painter’s possession of the “power of color.”

First Movement: In a Garden Talking

They talked in a fresh wash of sunshine.
She led him through her garden. Blushing
Tomatoes, cucumbers almost ready,
Bordered by marigolds.

The two people who appear in the poem are conversing in a garden. The sun shines on them and on the garden. The idea of color is immediately introduced as gardens are always repositories of vibrant colors, especially in the bright light of the sun. The garden is almost ready for harvest with “[b]lushing / tomatoes” and “cucumbers almost ready.” Some gardeners have posited that marigolds keep garden pests away. This garden is “bordered” by that plant, which foreshadows the very large stars so prevalent in the painting that will be introduced.

Foreshadowing offers a subtle way of introducing an idea that is necessary to the narrative but needs to remain somewhat mysterious, somewhat understated. Such foreshadowing usually involves some feature that if too prominent might overtake the flow and ultimate resolution of the story’s conclusion.

Second Movement: Poetry Perusal

The Starry Night
Became a symbol for fondling poems
As they listened for the voice that calls
Lovers to touch.

One of the two people herein populating the garden bears a replica of van Gogh’s The Starry Night. (Suggestion: In the early 1960s, silk-screened T-shirts with favorite artists and other famous rabble were prevalent.) The two garden inmates are perusing poems and something in the poems leads them to begin touching.

Third Movement: Leaning Into The Starry Night

She leaned into that star-studded
Piece, touching the skin of paint with the tips
Of her fingers. Her tongue imagined the soft pressure
Of lips and she believed the wet lie his tongue was telling.

Leaning into the Starry-Night suggests close attention to the van Goghian paint. Lovers touching suggests an intimacy that art may inevitably unfold. And although she may have believed the lies his tongue was telling, those lies are not revealed, allowing the true nature of their relationship to remain a mystery also implying that this one scene is likely much more important than any that may in future ensue.

Fourth Movement: A Germ Metaphor

His germ took root in her soul: Sprouting green thoughts—
The red of a kiss—The gold of fingertips on skin—Gazing
Blue eyes.

A somewhat mystical, definitely metaphorical, touching suggests its physical counterpart, but instead of the male “germ” rooting itself in the female physical receptacle, it takes “root in her soul.” Thus, a host of colorful, visual images is born: green thoughts, red kisses, golden fingertips, and gazing blue eyes.”

Fifth Movement: A Painting Echoes in a Poem

Writing poems, she feels the power of color
In her that she did not possess before the touching.

The speaker then summarizes with the paraphrasing echo from van Gogh. Just as the painter van Gogh found the intense power of color through the act of painting, the poet has found a similar power in the color of words as she committed to the act of poetry creation.

The speaker then summarizes with the paraphrasing echo from van Gogh. Just as the painter van Gogh found the intense power of color through the act of painting, the poet has found a similar power in the color of words as she committed to the act of poetry creation.

As a poet, she finds the mystic quality of color has deepened in her soul as she has contemplated the profound compatible nature of the physical and the mental. The nature of color intrigues the mind as it elicits from the soul qualities that motivate the heart and mind to transcend all physical desire. And it is that transcendence that the human heart craves above all physical contact, even above all mental musing.

Painting and Poetry

The focus of the poem is on the comparison of painting to poetry creation. The poet's employment of the epigram of the Vincent van Gogh quotation is vital to the poem's purpose. Van Gogh reckoned that the act of painting awakened in him the "power of color," and the poet reckons a similar status for herself in composing poems.

Regarding the nature of color in the life of the artist, the visual joy humanly attained through the eye cannot ultimately compete with the soul joy of the vibratory force of true wisdom that manifests through the mystery of art. Whether creating a painting or a poem, the artist or poet cannot help but find his/her mind and heart elevated by the mere act of creating.

© 2020 Linda Sue Grimes

Comments

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  • Maya Shedd Temple profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Sue Grimes 

    6 weeks ago from U.S.A.

    Thank you, Brenda, for the kind words. It's always pleasant to receive responses to creative endeavors. I do enjoy focusing on paintings in my poems; the two creations seem to feed each other.

  • Brenda Arledge profile image

    BRENDA ARLEDGE 

    6 weeks ago from Washington Court House

    You have done an excellent job on this poem.

    I love the wsy you take each stanza apart and give a detailed explanation.

    Beautiful.

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