Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart. Oh so Proustian with all the hawthorn too. Except that I think this was blackthorn!
For introduction, see previous post.
(Photo: by Ballista at English Wikipedia, May 2006)
(a monologue, as spoken by Mary Shelley…)
I remember he called me his veiled maid
and said I had a voice like his own soul.
Up what he termed the watery staircases,
we rose, emerging under a humped bridge.
Ostensibly, we sought the Isis source,
but were we really looking for the fount
of Inspiration… Imagination?
All the while, like Narcissus, he just stared;
reflected on the depths, till weeds choked us,
at Inglesham. We lodged at The New Inn.
Peacock encouraged us to eat some chops.
Thus fortified, we strolled before the curfew,
through the ancient churchyard, which seemed to rouse
the Muse in him, for he became withdrawn
and it was only his echoing cough
which disturbed our tranquility. The spire
pointed heavenward, as if to raise heads
cast down by the dejection of their pasts.
I thought of Clara- and mother also-
and dwelt awhile on my estranged father.
Well, Wordsworth was quite right- the good die first.
What strange visions and dreams I’d had before:
my babe resurrected, but then more deaths.
Suicides ensued. Yet on that still night,
we watched the moon; heard the Angelus
and felt a kind of divine Immanence.
I wanted to drift forever on streams;
to exorcise my deep melancholy.
Harriet had threatened to prosecute:
she made his ‘atheism’ a pretext,
citing elopement and abandonment.
But he was only in love with loving:
like Augustine, he was not yet in love,
though he claimed to reject Beauty, Nature,
seeking to find full truth in a woman.
All that free love was, at times, fatiguing.
Why did I always have to share his love?
He even shared his father’s allowance.
We never made it to The Falls of Clyde,
for he could not produce the Severn fee
and Charles and Peacock could not contribute.
So, while he spoke of Lycidas and death,
I felt that I was drowning in sorrows.
Suddenly his ‘airy scheme’ seemed grounded.
I longed to return to Windsor Great Park,
but the gargoyles seemed to mock my desires.
So, what was I left with?
I edit work
and open the pages of ‘Adonais’,
gazing at that once strongly beating heart;
mummified now; wrapped around in white silk.
Is that all that remains of burning love?
No, for even among the crumbling tombs,
verse was produced on that late summer night
and his very heartbeat was metrical.
Now I hold the rhythms of his life- here-
not between the pages, but within them.