Jack Lindsay

Vincent Van Gogh

Filings of copper sprinkling from the lathe,
the sun is rasping on trees of the summer.
Percussions of light break gold in the air,
on the boughs of this day the cymbalfruit hang.
I am dazed with the day and I catch at the clamour.
Hammer me, sun, like the dry scales of leaf
struck on the brazen tree, let the sledge clang.

Pain is decay. I would burn it out of me,
burn out the pain of my restless pity.
Hard as the beetle’s wing, dark, irridescent,
flake from my heart all the layers of loneliness.
Shatter me, sunsmith, on the day’s anvil,
weld me with summer and fuse me with flowerlight
flesh that is revelled with the world’s evil.

There is no strangeness, nothing that’s difficult.
Only the broken heart, only the  eyes unsealed,
only the open arms. Let the finch flirtflutter,
let the girl come with the pegs in her red mouth
hanging her washing amid lilac swanclouds.
We have been here before. Strike at us, sunsmith,
swell with your bellows, melting to smelt us.

Strike with steelflash, love’s fountain will gush
out of the split rock. I possess now the world.
Burn me to nakedness, all that is else of me
as alms I give to the poor who are part of me.
Walking the summer, with hands of abnegation,
I brim with this sweetness, I stand in fulfillment
a tree that blesses with flowerpalms uplifted.

Soaked to the skin with juice of the flamefruit
I stand and I feel the warm earth breaking,
rising and ebbing, furrowed by sunploughs,
fattened with sunspilth, the waves of summer
crested with blossomfoam sweep greendeep meadows
and man is at heart of it, man too is summer.

Like the wind shining over my wet thumb
the world I hold, it is mine for happiness,
for my body is arching braced to the toppling wave,
a sower’s gesture of broad benediction
poised on light’s tight-rope with generous wrist-turn,
a mower’s gesture, balanced on scythe-wing.

How shall I phrase this entire humility?
How shall I utter delighted surrender?
Others have said it, and the words were twisted,
a veil for greed, a whip against the poor.
How shall I praise the joy of owning nothing,
in a world still dark, in a world still greedmad?

I shall praise it in the sower, I shall praise it in the reaper,
I shall praise it in the gnarled hands, the workboots on the chair.
Then with joy undeterred and with trust in my fellows
I can yield to the touch of the wind’s undulations,
and the earth upheaves and cracks into crystal
spattered with suns and peals of daffodils.

Scalpels of light probe into my flesh,
but the pain is not the old pain, it is pain I can bear.
It scrapes to the bone for the rot of the past,
it cleanses my vision. O sundancers clashing,
where the harmonies flow, edged with new uses,
mind full from handskill, follow in fellowship.



SOURCE: Lindsay, Jack. Collected Poems, illustrated by Helen Lindsay. Lake Forest, IL: The Cheiron Press, 1981. xvi, 605 p., [40] leaves of plates. Signed. Copy #31. “Vincent Van Gogh” (written in period 1933-1935), pp. 232-234.

Note: I have made only one correction, an obvious typo: ‘wth’ —> ‘with’.

A Checklist of Jack Lindsay's Books
Includes all of the following Lindsay links & more

Collected Poems [Section Headnotes] by Jack Lindsay

"Giordano Bruno" by Jack Lindsay

"A Note on My Dialectic" by Jack Lindsay

"Towards a Marxist Aesthetic" by Jack Lindsay

Adorno and the Frankfurt School by Jack Lindsay

A Garland for Jack Lindsay

Jack Lindsay and British Poetry in the 1930s by Adrian Caesar

"The Origins of Jack Lindsay's Contributions to British Marxist Thought" by Joel R. Brouwer

Spinoza & Marxism: Selected Bibliography (with Basic Spinoza Web Guide)

British Marxism in Philosophy, Science, and Culture Before the New Left:
Essential Historical Surveys

Marx and Marxism Web Guide

Offsite Links:

Jack Lindsay - Wikipedia

Papers of Jack Lindsay (1900-1990) (MS 7168, National Library of Australia)

The Origins of Alchemy in Graeco-Roman Egypt by Jack Lindsay
Poem To Marie Delcourt-Curvers [HMTL]
To Marie Delcourt-Curvers [pdf file]
The First and Concluding Chapters

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