Ballad of Dark Beauty

Her dress of bombazine was wrapped
around her mottled body like a shroud,
her hair was winter-dark, a raven trapped
in the violent weir, so cold and loud.

She lived apart, contemptuous and proud,
believed to be a wanton witch, a lonely
wanderer on the heath, at one with cloud,
rain, moon and stars. She was the only

night dancer on the barrow, a comely
beauty craving freedom and desire.
Fragrant with gorse and deemed unholy,
she haunts the heath, pale face and raven hair.

Kim M. Russell, 6th October 2020

The Return of the Native (Literature) - TV Tropes

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Poetics: You want it darker

A big welcome to Lucy, our guest host for this Tuesday’s poetics. She says that October is one of the best times to celebrate the glory of dark themes and imagery in poetry, and gives us examples from Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Shadow on the Stone’ and Edgar Allan Poe’s ballad ‘To Ulalume’, both of which, as Lucy points out, explore grief and the idea of not wanting to look back.

Today we are writing ballads about the transient notion of life to death, or topics germane to the theme. Ballads typically consist of four-line quatrains with a rhyme scheme in either ABABBCBC form or another alternate of that form such as ABCB or ABAB – it’s up to us, along with how many stanzas we write.

I re-worked a poem I wrote back in 2016, about Eustacia Vye, a character in Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native.

49 thoughts on “Ballad of Dark Beauty

  1. This is a beauty in itself, Kim. Or as the title pertains, a dark beauty indeed. My favorite lines were this:

    “her hair was winter-dark, a raven trapped
    in the violent weir, so cold and loud.”

    Just the comparisons with the darkness of frost and winter, the raven, I love it so much. I also love how it connects with the character sketch, this is so intriguing especially when comparing the verses to the art. A very beautiful, mesmerizing poem. ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Lucy. I love Hardy’s books, especially Return of the Native, and have always been intrigued by Eustacia Vye, her suicide, and the way her body was found in the weir. .

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful, Kim, and unfortunately the fate of so many so-called ‘wanton women’ of Hardy’s time: who I suspect were women who knew their own minds but didn’t have the wealth and privilege to express that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Full of that gothic style and the genre’s (Hardy’s) impossible contradictions when it came to women – a witch who lives alone, yet is wanton and desirable but scary at the same time. Lovely crafting of this stylish ballad.

    Like

  4. kaykuala
    She lived apart, contemptuous and proud,
    believed to be a wanton witch, a lonely
    wanderer on the heath, at one with cloud,
    rain, moon and stars. She was the only

    It certainly creates a mysterious pic leading to the dark side. Great write Kim!

    Hank

    Liked by 1 person

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