Keys to the Kingdom

If you hear a voice within you say, “You cannot paint,”

Then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.


-Vincent Van Gogh




There came a key to mad Van Gogh;

There came a madman’s eye


That saw a terror in the crows

That swarmed a trembling sky;


And though mad Vincent never knew

The gain within the gift,


He never lost the golden key

That scarcely he could lift!


Dwarfed by the trees that rose like fiends,

He painted where he stood,


And through the branches brushed the stars

That swirled above the woods


And in each star, the face of Man,

He claimed as if his own;


And in their beauty, found a truth

That is by wise men known;


For God, in trust, gives not his keys

With charms and binding strings,


But patiently will wait on faith,

The rarest of all things


He gives what keys cannot be lost,

But leaves not his consent


For gifts to perish in disuse

Or bleak bewilderment


He gives keys freely like the dawn

That crushes as it thrills


By pouring forth its Light Divine

Upon the waking hills


He gives keys heavy like a heart

That bears a burden old


Or beats beneath a hoary breast

In rhythms, quick and bold


Therefore, did Vincent turn the lock;

Therefore, did he descend


Into the pit of Man’s despair

And, there, his key, defend


Against the craven beast within

That shudders in the fear


Of those who have not keys themselves

Or have no business here.



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