On the radio the other day I learned about this huge cache of Vincent Van Gogh’s letters that’s been made available (and searchable) on the Internet.
Immediately searching for Whitman, of course, I came to this passage from an 1888 letter Van Gogh wrote to this sister:
Have you read Whitman’s American poems yet? Theo should have them, and I really urge you to read them, first because they’re really beautiful, and also, English people are talking about them a lot at the moment. He sees in the future, and even in the present, a world of health, of generous, frank carnal love — of friendship — of work, with the great starry firmament, something, in short, that one could only call God and eternity, put back in place above this world. They make you smile at first, they’re so candid, and then they make you think, for the same reason. The prayer of Christopher Columbus is very beautiful.
For an article exploring connections between the two artists, see “WHITMAN AND VAN GOGH: STARRY NIGHTS AND OTHER SIMILARITIES.”
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