Vincent van Gogh wrote constantly to his brother Theo. Hidden among the total of 600 extant letters between them is a brief parable that allowed the painter to express his emotions and fears to his brother. In this letter, the Dutchman relates his emotional confusion and his great desire to find a path that will orient his life. In the parable, the pictorial genius tells us of the anguish of feeling marginalized and cut off, of the search for one's own being and overcoming the barriers that keep one isolated. For this metaphor which sees the artist as bird who cannot open his wings and take flight, the painter employs a simple and lyrical prose that inspired Edelvives to create this exceptional book.
"In the springtime a bird in a cage knows very well that there’s something he’d be good for." he feels very clearly that there’s something to be done but he can’t do it... what it is he can’t clearly remember, and he has vague ideas and says to himself: ‘the others are building their nests and making their little ones and raising the brood’, and he bangs his head against the bars of his cage. And then the cage stays there and the bird is mad with suffering," writes the painter to his brother.
A caged bird looks at the rest of the free birds and melancholy and pain imprison him more than the bars of the cage. His world is dark, full of cold tones, while the other birds move with the colors of the countryside, of the trees, and in their own bright hues, until he realizes that, although he doesn't lack anything, he yearns to be free, "to be a bird like the other birds!"
"You know what makes the prison disappear?," the painter asks his brother Theo. "With deep, serious attachment. To be friends, to be brothers, to love; that opens the prison through sovereign power, through a most powerful spell. But he who doesn’t have that remains in death. But where sympathy springs up again, life springs up again. Always yours, Vincent", closes the artist in the missive.