Marilyn Chandler McEntyre is a professor of English at Westmont College, Santa Barbara, California. She has published four books of poetry, including In Quiet Light: Poems on Vermeer's Women and Drawn to the Light: Poems on Rembrandt's Paintings. This beautiful work includes her meditative poems to accompany and interpret Vincent Van Gogh's late paintings.
McEntyre notes that the gifted but tormented artist was always very interested in light. Somehow he perceived the Divine in nature, in objects, in people, and in the everyday chores of life. In the painting "Van Gogh's Bedroom," McEntyre challenges us to see that we all need a place where we can remember "the honesties of earth" and the fact that we need two doors: "one for welcome, one for retreat." The author enables us to appreciate the dynamism of Van Gogh's "Cypresses" (1888) when she writes:
"Everything moves upward:
earth into water, air, and finally
fire that burns up, up, energy so
refined that it baffles the bounding senses."
McEntyre enhances the painting "Noon Rest" (1890) by referring to the sleeping couple as practicing "the prayer of trust." And so it goes throughout this salutary work as the poems deepen and enrich our experience of Van Gogh's glorious paintings, mining the spiritual meanings inherent in them.