Starry Night Over the Rhone

11:11 AM

Vincent van Gogh, Starry Night Over the Rhone, 1888

There is a mystery behind them. Yet, they encompass ideas of home and belonging. They are road map in the sky, guiding people back to the places they long to be, or leading them from places they wish to forget. Stars envelop the world under them in a blanket of warmth and comfort, although they serve as a constant reminder there are bigger things outthere. While gazing at Vincent van Gogh's 1888 Starry Night Over The Rhone, one wonders if they have found a Heaven on Earth.

The viewer stands on a side street adjacent to the river on the East side of the Rhone. The Rhone, a river that runs from Switzerland to Southeastern France, ends in the little city of Arles. The modern day invention of the gaslight reflects upon the calm waters, as two lovers take in the scene. The sky warns the viewer that they are minute in comparison to nature and all that surrounds them.

The encompassing sky scattered with stars appears to be the perfect backdrop for the return of Dante and Virgil. They are greeted by the one who has created the whole story, God. He creates a vision of pure joy and comfort as the two make their way up from Hell in Canto XXXIV,

To get back up to the shining world from there
My guide and I went into that hidden tunnel,

And Following its path, we took no care
To rest, but climbed: he first, then I-so far,
through a round aperture I saw appear

Some of the beautiful things that Heaven bears,
Where we came forth, and once more saw the stars.

Dante inches closer to the one he loves, Beatrice, and the place where she resides. The dark and violent tale ends on a note of joy and optimism. Although Hell does exist, great salvation awaits Dante in the stars; however, his intentions of reaching Heaven are unclear. Dante finishes his trip to the underworld with a clearer sense of death only to be baffled again by the mystery of life.

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