Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer’s day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
Do you know that song? It was one of the songs on our multiplex tape when I was a child. I didn’t like it then. Whenever the tape came around to that song, I would always stop the tape and rewind it back one song to my favorite, the jollier Puff the Magic Dragon.
But now? Now whenever I hear that song, it breaks my heart and sometimes moves me to tears.
Just listen to it. And look at the paintings that accompany the song on the video below.
The song is the story of Vincent van Gogh. He is one of the most famous painters in the history of the world, and he painted all those paintings in the video above. Though I’m no art expert and I’m not really a fan of paintings, I’m in love with his painting of a starry starry night. It goes so well with the song. It’s so stunning, isn’t it?
|Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night over the Rhone
Source: Wikimedia Commons
It’s so tragic that everyone in the world admires his works of art and everyone knows how beautiful and valuable they are except the artist himself. He died a poor man, having sold only a few of his paintings which are worth millions now. No one appreciated him while he was alive.
Now I understand what you tried to say to meAnd how you suffered for your sanityAnd how you tried to set them freeThey would not listen, they did not know howPerhaps they’ll listen now
I knew about him before, vaguely, knew the story of the brilliant painter who went crazy and cut off his ear to give to a woman. Unfortunately, his brilliance was eclipsed by his madness, this same madness which was perhaps the reason why people did not understand him then. But I only knew his whole story when I discovered BBC’s Vincent Van Gogh – Painted with Words.
“Nothing can be said about van Gogh that he didn’t say himself,” a narrator intoned onscreen in a serious, semi-sad voice. “There are 902 letters here, the vast majority written to his younger brother Theo, who became his confidante and his lifeline. This is Vincent thinking aloud, taking us through his life step by step, documenting his struggles as an artist and as a man. It’s from these letters that this film is made. Using only van Gogh’s words and those of the people around him. Nothing is imagined. Every word spoken is true.”
And so after that intro, I watched Vincent, portrayed by my favorite actor Benedict Cumberbatch, as he goes through aforementioned struggles. And what struggles they are!
I am not going to detail the almost three hours’ worth of words here, so I’m just going to jump to the end.
Vincent painted almost his whole life, but since few people bought his paintings, he had no income and therefore had to rely on his brother Theo. He also had a problem in the head and was in and out of mental facilities, so he couldn’t really find any other form of a living.
In July 1890, he returned to Paris to visit Theo and his sister-in-law Jo, and to see, for the first time, his recently born nephew, Vincent. Theo explained to him that he now had responsibilities with a young family to support. Vincent feared that he was becoming a liability, as he said in his own words in a letter to Theo:
I feared, not completely, but a little nonetheless, that I was a danger to you, living at your expense. I’d perhaps like to write to you about many things. I profess the desire has passed to such a degree that I feel the pointlessness of it. I’m applying myself to my canvasses with all my attention. They’re immense stretches of wheat fields under turbulent skies. And I made a point of trying to express sadness, extreme loneliness. Look after yourself and handshakes in thought. Yours truly, Vincent.
This was the last letter he ever wrote to his brother. Four days after writing this, he went into the wheat fields and shot himself in the chest. He managed to crawl back and climb the stairs to his attic room, where he died after two days, with Theo at his side. Vincent was only 37.
Six months later, Theo died of syphilis, at the age of 33.
Neither brother benefitted monetarily from the paintings that became so valuable later on. Ironic, isn’t it? But Vincent himself seemed to know this would happen, when he said:
We must learn to value people while they are still alive.
That is the lesson I learned from watching this film. I felt so sad for Vincent, who never felt valued, to the point that he felt so worthless that he killed himself.
What if they had seen his worth then? Perhaps the ending would have been different.
For they could not love youBut still your love was trueAnd when no hope was left insideOn that starry, starry nightYou took your life as lovers often doBut I could have told you, VincentThis world was never meantFor one as beautiful as you
This post is part of the A to Z Challenge, a blog hop that goes through the alphabet for all the days of April except Sundays. I have decided to go with the theme of Alliterations.