Posts Tagged ‘arts’

inspired by Pietà by Vincent van Gogh and a piano composition by the same name by Kayleen Asbo

When Chopin wrote his prelude in E minor,
its melody descending like sundown in a field,
he could never have guessed how
Eugène Delacroix would listen to the song relentlessly
when he painted his Pietà, how the haunting notes
would infuse themselves into the twilight
of the Virgin Mary’s blue dress,
into her outstretched hands and her oddly angled neck
as she held the dead body of her son.

And Delacroix could not have known
how, two years later, Anna van Gogh
would give birth to Vincent Willem,
his heart unbeating, his lungs unbreathing—
how Anna would long to mourn like the Virgin
and hold her own dead child, but her husband
would forbid her to even speak of the loss,
calling her grief a sin.

And Anna could not have known
how a year to the day when her first son died
she would deliver another boy
and name him Vincent Willem van Gogh,
and he would grow up seeing his own name
and birthday carved into a gravestone.

No surprise then, perhaps, that when Vincent
painted his own version of Delacroix’s Pietà,
he painted the dead son in the likeness of himself—
his own slender shoulders, his own red beard.
In Virgin Mary’s eyes, he painted dusk.

And van Gogh could not have known
how over a hundred years later
a woman named Kayleen, inspired
by Chopin and the agony in Vincent’s painting,
would write a song for piano, a song infused
with heartache and beauty, eventide and gloaming.

And Kayleen could not have known how,
months later, another woman would hear
in the slow rolling bass of the minor key
a mirror for her brokenness,
the spilling of her own golds and blues,
how she would seek out Vincent’s Pietà
and see in the painting
her own empty hands, her own dead son.
She would understand in an instant
she was not alone
in meeting the darkling swell of unbearable loss
and the light of bearing it anyway—


Today (Monday, July 12) at 11 a.m. mountain time, I hope you can join me and composer/pianist/historian Kayleen Asbo for an hour of conversation about the “unfolding delight of collaborating on a multimedia project for Vincent van Gogh. No charge, but if you want to donate in support of our work, we will accept gratefully! Above all, we want to share the joy we have discovered in weaving poetry and music in response to van Gogh and each other. 

To register. cut and paste this link: 

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