Simple Sublime by Carola Sautter

Simple Sublime

after Van Gogh’s Old Tower in the Fields

I cannot worship in that blackest church —
I walk alone in scarlet haze.
Each morning brings a rose gold sun,
the crack of wheat stalks underfoot,
the loam and must of narrow paths
that smell of clean and fire both.

A shocking stillness — then birdcall.
Such kindly winds play music in the fields,
and I can walk to you, alone, with
lips that taste of dust and fire both.

Carola Sautter’s Questions:

1. Does this work at all as a poem by itself or does it make sense only if you know/are looking at the painting?

2. Do the line breaks make sense?

3. Does it have too “ambitious” a mood of quasi-religiousity? (not my intent)

Reply directly to the poet: sautter (at) metis (dot) com


  1. sreids  •  Mar 19, 2012 @1:34 pm

    Dear Carola,

    Thank you for this post.

    The draft is rich in sensory imagery that engages: “crack of wheat stalks,” and “loam and must of narrow paths” are particularly engaging for me.

    The mystery of the poem opens with the first line — as perhaps where a mystery in a poem might — why is the church black, and why is the speaker unable to worship there?

    The mystery nears resolution with the penultimate line “I can walk to you, alone.” Am left to speculate as to whom the speaker is addressing and why she cannot worship in that church. Perhaps some narrative elements that you add may hint toward some resolution. Perhaps if you identify the “you” the reader might make a stronger connection with the church — and why she cannot worship there.

    No, I don’t think the poem is too ambitious (too short!); developing the quasi-religious elements may lend themselves to a greater realization of this draft.

    May the kindly winds blow upon you.


    Scott Reid 19 March 2010

  2. Carola Sautter  •  Mar 19, 2012 @2:36 pm

    Thank you for your kind and helpful response.

    I knew the poem was “too short,” and brevity has long been a problem in all my writing attempts. I sometimes feel that all I need to say must be compressed in the first line of something!

    Your comments about the anonymity of the speaker and the “you” are also a persistent issue with my writing; I seem to want to pour my heart out but keep a safe distance ….. But here I think I have not thought through the question posed by the first line. Will keep at this draft for a while and see if something comes through.

    Thank you so much.


  3. Donald Anderson  •  Nov 4, 2012 @8:50 pm

    Hi Carola,
    I think you are the same person I knew in Baltimore.
    I gave you flute lessons and played
    at your wedding. Frankly, I really like the poem
    though I don’t really have any expertise in
    That art form. I would really enjoy seeing it as it
    Progresses to what you consider it’s finished state.

    Warmest Regards,
    Don Anderson

  4. Gary Loomis  •  May 14, 2013 @4:37 pm


    Wie geht’s?

    The names Carola Sautter and Donald Anderson on the same webpage is too coincidental to be a coincidence.

    I like the poem – the reading of which enticed me to view an image of the painting. Also, to me the brevity of the work seems well suited to it’s rhythm and intonation.

    Machs gut,


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