As you know, I adore everything pre-raphaelite, so you won’t be surprised to see me write around my favourite pre-raph painting The Lady of Shallot by John William Waterhouse (1888)—she is hauntingly beautiful and sad. Written in response to Stuart McPherson’s marvellous prompt this weekend for Poetics at dVerse.
A Beautiful Sadness
Beware enchantment beware,
charisma to share, has
Loved by a King,
who trusts him,
his search for the grail.
Trust repaid by an
Guinevere, the King’s
most beloved wife.
The Lady spies him from her
her faerie bower,
her place of power,
her room of one’s own.
‘The mirror crack’d from side to side’
never to have the prize.
She learns that sans mirror,
She is bereft, returned
Her faerie bower,
her place of power,
her room of one’s own,
There is tension.
the status, the role,
She’s a saviour of
the domestic realm.
No! She is
She leaves her loom
The mirror cracks
She turns to look
She loses life
Dead before the
ultimate goal: Camelot.
A martyr to unworthy love.
Passionate, beautiful sadness.
Polly Stretton © 2012
12/08/2012 at 12:04
it is a sad story…it is interesting too how we have romanticized their unfaithfulness…both of them…he to his king, being the right hand man and her to her husband…two of the most sacred, or should be ties…it is a sad story all the way around…and do you fault love?
12/08/2012 at 12:06
Those are challenging questions, Brian … thank you for your comments
18/08/2012 at 12:18
Do not blame love, blame romance.
12/08/2012 at 12:32
isn’t it strange in a way that esp. those sad love stories, that end in big tragedies so often find their ways into our hearts…your piece leaves me pondering why this is… great capture here of a sad story…
12/08/2012 at 12:34
The story is potent and poignant, the painting, for me, makes it even more so …
12/08/2012 at 13:15
What a twist in the affairs…the story is poignant and sad ~ To lose it all in the end is even more disheartening ~
15/08/2012 at 08:24
I have just found your comment, Heaven, you had arrived in the trash! Goodness knows why … I’ve hauled you out of that dark place to say thank you for your thoughts and observations and thank you for visiting 🙂
12/08/2012 at 13:19
Wonderfully written piece, Polly. The sadness tugs, while the mind wonders about the moral questions, leaving the reader torn. Should love be our guide and goal; or law?
12/08/2012 at 13:20
How well you encapsulate what was part of the writing of this piece Charles ~ thank you so much for your thoughts
12/08/2012 at 14:06
“A martyr to unworthy love”… how beautifully sad indeed!
12/08/2012 at 14:08
Hmmm … it is sad … who is the martyr, though? heh-heh 🙂
Thanks for commenting hiroshimem
12/08/2012 at 14:14
Lovely kind of circular story, very legendary feel to the poem. k.
12/08/2012 at 14:20
Indeed, I hope so, k. Glad you liked it 🙂
12/08/2012 at 17:45
I don’t know the story well but I really enjoyed your poem, very atmospheric and some wonderful imagery, it made me want to find out more 🙂
12/08/2012 at 17:47
You’ll love the story if you enjoyed the poem, Cherry. Good luck with it 🙂
12/08/2012 at 18:27
Amazing artwork and poetry. I like the story of old. Life in the old days were hard for the poor people. Beauty could open doors to many things. Thank you for the outstanding poetry.
12/08/2012 at 18:40
Thank you for your thoughtful comments John 🙂
12/08/2012 at 19:42
Love this painting and this great poetic tribute to it. Low the way you give it such a clear narrative….but the tone and words you use feel traditional which is very fitting. And those last few lines just close this off perfectly. I think it’s her eyes….you can get so much from her eyes….
12/08/2012 at 19:45
Me too Stu re the painting – thanks for your comments re tone and words.
Couldn’t agree more about her eyes ~ the look in those eyes says it all ~ what a talented artist.
Thanks again for visiting and for a great prompt.
13/08/2012 at 00:04
Hi Polly, I share your love of the pre-raphaelites and Tennyson’s poem … your poem is a beautiful and insightful response – and I like how the speaker too is unsure who The Lady is… “unworthy love” is right – Lancelot’s response on seeing her dead body is clearly pathetic.
13/08/2012 at 00:16
So true … he barely seems to remember her …
Thank you so much for your insightful comments. Glad you enjoyed the poem.
13/08/2012 at 00:24
Perfect poem for the painting. She is lovely and haunting.
13/08/2012 at 00:42
This has been my favourite painting since first I saw it, she is … deep.
Thanks for your thoughts Robin.
13/08/2012 at 18:49
Cool write…I like your style.
14/08/2012 at 00:10
Many thanks 🙂
15/08/2012 at 20:38
How on earth did I miss this! I’m so glad you mentioned it to me last night. 🙂
Very apt indeed for the “beautiful sadness” prompt. And also one of my favourite paintings too.
Nicely done – I especially like that you’ve sneaked in the “room of one’s own”…
15/08/2012 at 20:53
Thanks Holly, you probably missed it as I posted two quite close together … not always a good plan (!)
We’ve had an ace day in Surrey and I’ve done a bit of a rewrite on He Sits and Waits ~ I hadn’t appreciated that rhyme was quite necessary (!) although Sally was very kind and said that once one learns a form one can depart from it … nope ~ I had to redo it. If you have a mo, please say what you think?
Thanks again for comments on this post 🙂
16/08/2012 at 05:04
I wonder why we are drawn to tragedies in love. Is it because it promises of new beginnings…something better to come…hope….
16/08/2012 at 07:06
It is intriguing … we definitely are drawn to them … ‘hope springs eternal’ etc ‘eh?
Good to see you back Eric, and glad you enjoyed your birthday … fab re your daughter’s surprise visit 🙂
18/08/2012 at 04:16
Love it! Excellent 😉
And love this painting! 😀
18/08/2012 at 04:30
Ah, me, it just encapsulates that beautiful sadness …
18/08/2012 at 12:19
You give us a sad but fine rendition of longing for the original feelings associated with romance;
not a new story , is it?…
18/08/2012 at 12:57
Lindy, thank you very much for your comments ~ and you’re right, it’s not a new story ~ Polly