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Sunday, March 7, 2010

A lovely work of art inspired by a dismal poem....


'Mariana' - Sir John Everett Millais, 1850/51

Sir John Everett Millais based Mariana (1851) upon Tennyson's poem of the same name, which derives from Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and tells of a woman who has lived alone for five years after having been rejected by her fiance, Angelo, after her dowry was lost in a shipwreck. Millais chose to illustrate the following lines:

She only said, "My life is dreary,
He cometh not," she said;
She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!"

Alone in her house on a grey autumn afternoon, Mariana stands up from her needlework to stretch her back and look longingly out the window. Autumn leaves are scattered about on the floor. The changing of the season from summer to fall is impending, so much so that it is overtaking the interior of Mariana's home. Just as the seasons change outside, the fertile spring and summer of Mariana's life is coming to a close as she is left alone, facing life as a lonely spinster. - victorianweb.org

Mariana
(2nd stanza)
published 1830

Her tears fell with the dews at even;
Her tears fell ere the dews were dried;
She could not look on the sweet heaven,
Either at morn or eventide.
After the flitting of the bats,
When thickest dark did trance the sky,
She drew her casement-curtain by,
And glanced athwart the glooming flats.
She only said, "The night is dreary,
He cometh not," she said;
She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!"

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1809-1892

'The Moxon Tennyson'
Pen and Ink illustration by Millais
Wood engraving by Dalziel Brothers 1857

Scanned image by George P. Landow

Edward Moxon published "Poems" by Alfred Tennyson in 1933

17 comments:

Lyn said...

Nowadays we'd say, move on Mariana, but then the romantic impulse of Millais might not be..all so tragically beautiful..
Coincidence..I have just posted a poem inspired by a painting....funny..thanks..

Wanda said...

Alaine, I loved the 'dismal' poem, it was a lovely post, but then I was distracted from commenting by ...*You might also like*...

On I went to view...THIS FRAIL BARK, I'M IDLE, and MALEKI. They were very lovely posts too!

Alaine said...

Lyn...ha, I usually do it the reverse too but that's what poetry is all about isn't it, inpired by what is seen, felt and experienced.

And...a mutual friend doesn't believe in experience, it's synchronicity apparently!

Off to read yours.

Alaine said...

Wanda...thank you and I'm glad you lingered to read more; it doesn't happen often! I'm drawn to the sad and soulful but I don't like the last line of all the verse of the poem and wasn't going to include it.

My 'Angelo' returns from NZ today.

willow said...

I've always loved the way Millais painted her, stretching, hands kneeding her lower back. I can so relate.

Alaine said...

Willow...I've always loved it and it suited how I felt after all the physical I've been doing outside lately. Then I looked further and found the story...

Vagabonde said...

This is a beautiful painting. I like Millais and painters of the same style. I read the article on the Victorian Web, thanks for posting the link. This painting and poem make for a very charming post.

Alaine said...

Vagabonde, thank you and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I really appreciate sites like Victorian Web; they're so interesting... and educational.

Susan said...

What a gorgeous painting! The first thing that ran through my head when I saw it was "Oh, my aching back." The poem is something of a downer. :)

Derrick said...

Hi Alaine,

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood series that was on BBC recently was rather racey but interesting, as was the more academic series on BBC4. Learnt a lot about the artists and their paintings.

I just clicked on your YT chanel and really enjoyed the Vangelis music accompanying the slideshow.

Alaine said...

Hi Susan... I was carrying through with the story of hubby being away, enjoying himself and I was all alone at home!

Alaine said...

Derrick...that series started on our ABC just last night; I missed half of it but enjoyed the rest and look forward to next week's ep.

My YT channel; I think you're the first one whose found it!

FireLight said...

Very interesting...thank you for finding the poem and the background information...I do adore the Pre-Raphaelites.

Alaine said...

Firelight...me too; I love the romance of that era.

dancingbeastie said...

Exploring some of your past posts and came upon this much-loved painting. Pre-Raphaelite art was supposed to be something that moody teenage girls grew out of, but I never did, thank goodness!

Millais painted a lot of later work in our part of the world. My husband and I visited the splendid Millais exhibition at the Tate in London a couple of years ago, and he gave me a canvas print of 'Mariana', which I have loved since school and which helped to send me down the path of a doctorate in medieval history. The stained glass windows in the painting are copied from those in the chapel of Merton College, Oxford - where I sang in a choir as a student. Now the print is above my desk. Many resonances. Thank you for sharing this lovely painting.

alaine@éclectique said...

dancingbeastie Me too. I'll never tire of Pre-R art; I'm always transfixed by it! I'll be starting a cross-stitch very soon of John William Waterhouse's 'My Sweet Rose'; I wish I had more time left to stitch all of the patterns.

My gosh, a doctorate in medieval history! I'm at the age where I want to study such things but I'm afraid facilities are not within easy reach here in 'the bush'. I'll have to content myself with a lot of reading, without the degree!

You're so fortunate to have so much history around you!

dancingbeastie said...

Yes, I have been lucky with the opportunities I've had. These days I rely chiefly on the wonders of the internet for my education - that, at least, crosses all geographical constraints.
A cross-stitch of Waterhouse: how wonderful! Enjoy it!