c. 7 - 9 September 1888
My dear Vincent,
I recieved your letter just when I was going to write you.
Forgive me if I write so seldom and so little. I am terribly
bored and I have stomach problems; we constantly have rain. I
work and I don't do anything, in the sense that I draw with my
hand, my head, and my heart with an eye toward what I want to
do later. Yes, you're right to want painting with colouring
suggestive of poetic ideas, and in this sense I agree with you,
with one difference. I don't know any poetic ideas; it's
probably a sense I'm lacking. I find everything poetic,
and it's in the corners of my heart, which are sometimes
mysterious, that I perceive poetry. Led harmoniously, forms and
colours in themselves produce poetry. Without letting myself be
surprised by the motif, I feel a sensation in front of someone
else's painting that brings me to a poetic state, depending on
the painter's intellectual forces, which emanate from it.
Useless to go on about this, we'll talk at length about it
another time. On this matter, I'm quite sad to be held here in
Pont-Aven; each day my debts increase and make my trip more and
more unlikely. What a long Calvary an artist's life is! And
that's perhaps what makes us go on living. Passion gives life,
and we die when it's no longer nourishing. Let's abandon these
paths lined with thorny bushes, although they have their savage
I study little Bernard, who I know less than you;
I know that you want to do something good for him, and he needs it.
He has naturally suffered, and he started life filled with gall, driven
to see the bad side of man. I hope that, with his intelligence and his love
of art he will one day perceive that goodness is a strength against the other,
and a consolation for our own misfortunes. He likes you and values you,
therefore you can have a good influence on him. We very much need to be
united in heart and intelligence if we want the future to put us in our
Is your brother away on a journey? I don't have any news
of him anymore.
Yours sincerely, Gauguin.
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Paul Gauguin. Letter to Vincent van Gogh. Written 7 - 9 September 1888 in Brittany. Translated by Robert Harrison, edited by Robert Harrison, number htm.
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