One last look in the cupboard. Quite empty.
To think I once locked Cyllene in there!
But, on the other hand, it was for Art.
At least she achieved genuine despair.
People always obeyed my injunctions.
I only wanted to arrest Beauty:
Oh, that sweet, sunny-haired little Annie!
How kind of Emily to bring a rose.
She was ever the eye in any storm.
That wretched cow kicked over our coffins
crammed with the household china. I’ll miss those
Freshwater fishermen with staring eyes,
aquiline noses; cobblers’ daughters-and
dear old Alfred posing in my henhouse
as a dirty monk! – That Mermaid headland
and the High Down where we always took our walks.
Dear Charles. Always ready to recite;
ready to receive all those Pomonas,
Aletheas, “his beard dipt in moonlight”,
uncomplaining of domestic clutter;
given to outbreaks of hilarity;
yet willing to suspend his disbelief
and play Lear for conjugal harmony.
Even when I ran through the dining room,
trailing wet pictures, staining our linen
with nitrate of silver, indelibly,
he merely smiled indulgently, dear man!
At one time six men were in love with me:
I’d more poetry than I could deal with.
Charles grimaced when I used those goose wings,
but through my lens they were the props of myth,
of sepia putti and draped idylls:
older husbands are so longsuffering.
I cannot wait to reach Kalutura.
Those silver ghosts will still be hovering,
even in Ceylon. My house will be filled
with rabbits, squirrels, stags. Through the windows
I will hear Charles’ ivory cane tap
on the porch. We are both ready to go.
My last word to you all is, “Beautiful!”
Julia Margaret Cameron, the Victorian photographer, lived and worked at Dimbola Lodge, Freshwater, Isle of Wight, prior to returning to her husband Charles’ coffee plantation in Ceylon.
(“It may amuse you, Mother, to try to photograph during your solitude at Freshwater.”)- a suggestion by her daughter on giving her a camera.
“The hens were liberated… the society of hens and chickens was soon changed for that of poets, prophets, painters and lovely maidens, who all in turn have immortalised the humble little farm erection.”) J.M.C.
ANNALS OF MY GLASS HOUSE, 1874.