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Millais Ruskin.jpg

(Portrait of John Ruskin by Sir John Everett Millais



Another poem lost in the archives, which might be

worth a re-blog…


They thought I was in contemplative mood

when I gazed at those lichens and bubbles.

In fact, non-consummation makes one brood.

Damned rain exacerbated our troubles.

Effie assiduously sewed red cloth,

her hair crowned with a garland of foxgloves,

while Everett circled her like a moth,

the pair of them billing like turtle doves.

You’d look like a hyena if your wife

was trailing around the Trossachs like that.

You’d feel that you could take a palette knife

to the one against whom she leant and sat

for hours, reading Dante, while he drew.

And, having him cooped up in that snuff box,

tickling her with fern- as if I misconstrue.

His doodles made me uncomfortable.

He’d come in damp from studying these rocks,

clutching his oils, sepia ink, sable

brushes, teasing her, calling her Countess.

She even trimmed his hair for him one night,

collecting the blonde curls on The Witness,

some Edinburgh newspaper, not quite

read by William, or myself.  And his hand

was bandaged because the fool had injured

it, trying to make unstable stones stand

in the stream, for her to cross.  I’d endured

enough by then.  I watched the salmon leap

in Glenfinlas waterfall and pondered

what they were sowing and what they would reap.

They played battledore in the barn, wandered

the moors and bogs.  He said chilly mountains

made him love soft, warm breathing bodies and

all the while it incessantly rained- rains!

Do they think because they are in Scotland

the normal marriage vows do not apply;

that they can shelter under a shared plaid

and return soaking with another lie?

The bubbles have all burst, I’m afraid.

I stand in the midst of this turbulence.

Passions, torrent roars: I counter silence.