Reflections on Ode to the Good Black Boots that Served My Soul So Well (poem) by Aberjhani

“But why exactly were these shoes so important to Vincent? Why had he carried them with him for so long, beaten and worn as they were?” – Ken Wilber, from the essay A Pair of Worn Shoes (“A Pair of Shoes” painting by Vincent Van Gogh from Southern Review.org)

The story and intent behind my poem, Ode to the Good Black Boots that Served My Soul So Well, is not extremely different from the story and likely intent behind Vincent Van Gogh’s painting, A Pair of Shoes (see image above). In philosopher Ken Wilber’s book, The Eye of the Spirit – An Integral Vision of a World Gone Slightly Mad, the author retells a story first shared by the painter Paul Gauguin (1848–1903) about a pair of “enormous worn out misshapen shoes” painted by his friend Vincent.

The now-iconic Van Gogh (1853–1890) created the image after serving as a caregiver for 40 days and nights to a miner who had been so badly burned that doctors gave him up for dead. Vincent Van Gogh could not accept that prognosis. He had not gone to the mines to paint but had traveled there in well-made boots as a young pastor intent on ministering to whoever might have need of him. 

After laboring with love to nurse the man back to some degree of health, the scars that remained on the miner’s brow and face looked to Van Gogh like scars from a crown made of thorns.

Please enjoy the full post by clicking here:
Reflections on Ode to the Good Black Boots that Served My Soul So Well (poem) by Aberjhani on AuthorsDen.

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Song of the Black Skylark: Poem in the American Literary Halloween Tradition

Song of the Black Skylark (poem) by Aberjhani on AuthorsDen

                    (Black Skylark title art graphic by Postered Poetics for Aberjhani)

Does the enigmatic figure of the Black Skylark referenced in this blog title have anything to do with Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” (1845), with Walt Whitman’s “The Mystic Trumpeter” (1872), or Abram Joseph Ryan’s “Song of the Deathless Voice” (1880)? It shares with Poe’s classic poem the image of a dark mystical bird. On the other hand, the presence of an eerie beguiling melody establishes a strong link to Whitman’s and Ryan’s poems.

Obviously, the poem Song of the Black Skylark is from the book Visions of a Skylark Dressed in Black. It was not until the first edition of the book was about to be published that I began to understand the origins of the Black Skylark. The following is what I noted as my understanding grew deeper:

It dawned on me that the book was actually conceived many many years before…In fact, it began as part of a writing assignment in a class taught by Wendy Parrish at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, way back in the day before people used the phrase “back in the day”…. That was when I wrote a poem called The Dark Bird, describing a creature that was frightfully heroic in life while being somehow oddly connected to death.

At that time, the word “metaphysics” was unknown to me so I was more driven by a feeling than a concept. The central image that formed around that feeling disappeared for two decades before re-emerging and evolving into the Black Skylark that not only soars through the pages of Visions, but through those of a novel also [now] completed.

The poem is set in the city of Savannah, Georgia, but its themes are universal. Readers are cordially invited to decide for themselves how well it fits into the tradition of the American Halloween poem pioneered by Poe, Whitman, and Ryan:
Song of the Black Skylark (poem) by Aberjhani on AuthorsDen.

by Aberjhani