Van Gogh’s Yellow

Mish at dVerse’s “Poetics” asks us to take on the persona of a color, “imagine what they see . . . . slip out of our human bodies and become nothing but a color.” So it is written, so it is done, but in the voice of one particular color, Vincent van Gogh’s yellow.

Van Gogh died in July 1890 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.

Vincent Van Gogh, Wheatfield with Crows (July 1890)

When you turn to me away from Rachel
For whom you sheared your face of an ear
Isn’t the world brighter, like sunflowers?
And the walls of your house in Arles
Lavishly canvased, as the awnings
As cafés, bedframes, straw hats, sunsets
I am the light running before you
Swirling you up to starry nights and moons
Away from the blackness of eyes
That never see you like I have seen you
Radiant in the waving fields of wheat
Until the day you clasp your hands
Round the ochred skin of despair.

Vincent Van Gogh, Sorrowing Old Man (‘At Eternity’s Gate’), 1890

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38 thoughts on “Van Gogh’s Yellow”

        1. Doctors tried to help and his brother Theo, of course, and his sister were as supportive as they could be, but he kept spiraling down. It is one of the saddest stories in art history.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Isn’t that amazing? It takes time to correct our judgments it seems. Now I can’t imagine a world where you don’t walk in somewhere and see a Van Gogh print, even on a t-shirt or dress! 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

  1. This was very moving and made me think of how Van Gogh probably had a deep connection to that yellow. The “ochred skin of despair” is a powerful description and sticks with me at the end. This is so well written! 👏

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a massive van Gogh fan, Dora, and love that you have written about his yellows, not just the sunflowers but even the house in Arles, the ‘cafés, bedframes, straw hats, sunsets’. The way he used yellow gives insight into his state of mind at the time of painting, as you have explored in the final lines.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kim,
      So glad you liked it. The man and his art have an unusual hold on our imagination. His paintings are seared in my mind too. Maybe his tragic end has something to do with it, but mostly his amazing genius. Thank you so much for your generous comments.

      Pax,
      Dora ✨🌻

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ingrid,
      I had to write several drafts as pedestrian as the final one turned out. Van Gogh’s art has been a constant & deeply confounds, saddens, and delights me as when I was a child. Hard to write about. Thank you for commenting! ✨
      Pax,
      Dora

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Jay,
      Thank you. I don’t know why it is that Van Gogh seems more personally “known” by his fans than any other painter. The medium and the man somehow became one. Amazing!

      Pax,
      Dora

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Heart wrenching. If only he could have felt the sunniness of yellow but he seemed to be grasping it in his work. Mental illness is the saddest thing on the planet to me. Thank you for this unique and very moving take on the prompt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mish,

      You’re so right. I read somewhere that he stopped painting in yellows just before his death. Mental illness is the cruelest disease. Thanks for your generous comments and for the inspiring prompt! 🌻

      Pax,
      Dora

      Like

    1. Christine,
      Thank you for the generous comments. I really can’t think of a popular painter who made a color all his own like Van Gogh.💫
      Pax,
      Dora

      Like

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