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An artist needn’t be a clergyman or a churchwarden, but he certainly must have a warm heart for his fellow men.

- Vincent van Gogh

Some Officers Of The Great War

My notes on a John Singer Sargent painting at the National Portrait Gallery, “General Officers Of the Great War”:

These men are sated,
satisfied, tried and true,
censured and cinched,
catalogued and decorated,
and are those spurs
on their jackboots too?

Botha proud like a superman,
Allenby an Arabian beauty, half-horse,
Smuts white as a ghost,
and Field Marshall Haig right at the front,
front and centaah, SAH!!

Sargent made them round about life size -
22 men, hard, stiff,
behind them a gloomy looming tomb vault
or some edifice of state.
Top brass done up in the colors of sand,
of peaches, and leather buffed bright –
the hues of WWI –
and cadmium red kept well out of sight.

General Officers Of The Great War by John Singer Sargent

General Officers Of The Great War by John Singer Sargent

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