At the moment I can see a splendid effect out of my studio window. The city, with its towers and roofs and smoking chimneys, is outlined as a dark, sombre silhouette against a horizon of light. This light is, however, no more than a broad streak over which hangs a heavy raincloud, more concentrated below, torn above by the autumn wind into large shreds and lumps that are being chased away. But that streak of light is making the wet roofs glisten here and there in the dark mass of the city (on a drawing one would achieve this with a stroke of body colour), so that although the mass has a single tone one can still distinguish between red tiles and slates. The Schenkweg runs through the foreground like a glistening streak through the wetness; the poplars have yellow leaves, the banks of the ditches and the meadows are a deep green; the little figures are black. I would have drawn it, or rather tried to draw it, if I hadn’t been working hard all afternoon on figures of peat-carriers, which are still too much on my mind to allow room for anything new, and should be allowed to linger. (Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh, The Hague, 22 October 1882)
What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, h a s i n h i s h e a r t. That is my ambition, based less on resentment than on love in spite of everything, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion. Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me.
My hands have become rather whiter than I care for, but what can I do about it? I’ll also go outdoors again. It matters less to me that it may strike me down than that I’m kept longer from my work. Art is jealous; she won’t allow illness to be placed above her. So I’ll let her have her way. People like me aren’t really allowed to be ill. You must really understand how I regard art. One must work long and hard to arrive at the truthful. What I want and set as my goal is damned difficult, and yet I don’t believe I’m aiming too high. I want to make drawings that move some people. I want to touch people with my art. I want them to say: "he feels d e e p l y, he feels t e n d e r l y“.
Poppies have long been used as a symbol of sleep, peace, and death: Sleep because of the opium extracted from them, and death because of the common blood-red color of the red poppy in particular. In Greek and Roman myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead. Poppies used as emblems on tombstones symbolize eternal sleep.
A second interpretation of poppies in Classical mythology is that the bright scarlet colour signifies a promise of resurrection after death. (x)