The shadow of laudanum
no longer stained her skin,
in life and death her beauty spilled
luminous, and green-blue eyes belied
disease that once coiled within.
Her glorious red hair had grown
beyond eternal sleep,
entangled in it, Rossetti’s book of poetry,
penetrated by a single worm
where damp and mould had seeped.
Seven long years her body lay
in the deep night of the grave,
asleep at first, perhaps,
or one of Highgate Cemetery’s undead;
that it had not decomposed,
or even the words of love
Rossetti laid beside her head,
and Lizzie’s dignity and sweetness
survived Ophelia’s curse
in paintings and poetry,
the eternal muse.
Kim M. Russell, 31st October 2019
This midweek Sanaa’s motif has a Halloween hue. She refers to All Hallows Eve, a holiday celebrated in several countries on 31st October, and to The Day of the Dead, ‘Dias de los Muetros’, which is celebrated in central and southern Mexico on 1st November; both celebrate death and rebirth.
Sanaa has shared quotes from Hesse and Proust, as well as poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Vanessa Angelica Villarreal and Louise Glück. She invites us to choose one of two options to inspire us to write poetry. I’ve chosen to write a poem inspired by the exhumation of the artist, poet and model Elizabeth Siddal, who died at the age of thirty-two, only two years after her marriage to the poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti. She is best known as Millais’ Ophelia.