“At Eternity’s Gate” — Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) — public domain
today, I know this rising fog will only thicken to cloak my words stifle my voice
and choice lead me astray in these barren clouds where meaning
goes to die
today, I know this rising tide will not subside till it smothers
all my thoughts with its soughing mermaid’s call leaving me submerged in this endless ocean where memories go
today, I know but tomorrow I might not so let me ask before I fade and fail to let me go to sleep with dignity in my keep
In this day and age of artificial intelligence and virtual reality, it is reassuring to see that timeless human art, exhibited in its physical form, still draws large crowds, both young and old.
And yet, I can’t say my visit to the Van Gogh exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris last December was a happy one.
Being forcibly swept from one tableau to the next by a tsunami of unruly bodies made it impossible to serenely contemplate any of Van Gogh’s art, and what made the experience totally hellish was the swarm of obnoxious cell phone screens hovering incessantly into my field of vision to take lousy snapshots.
In fact, I believe I didn’t get to see a single painting in its entirety for more than a few seconds.
The digital age ruined it for me after all.
So now, I believe it owes me the humble use of the Van Gogh painting above, plucked from the internet, to illustrate a poem I wrote well before my visit to the museum.