Random writing inspired by pre-Raphaelite paintings

Other bloggers I’ve noticed do this thing of getting random photos off Pinintrest  and writing about them. I love the  idea but have two reasons for not being able to do exactly that – one is that I have no idea how to use Pinintrest  – two, that it is illegal to use other people’s photos. But I have always loved paintings, and felt inspired by them, and I have   e decided to do the same as them but using paintings instead of photographs. I may start to do this all the time and use all sorts of paintings – but this first day I am using pre-raphaelites – there are so many of them and they have inspired me since I was very young. You will find a lot of these ones are John William Waterhouse – and I know the real story behind almost all of them. 

 

Listening

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She laid her head against the crack in the plaster, and listened. Her dark, sleek hair, tied into a silken bunch, was pushed to one side – the lines about her mouth spoke hatred – her brows were drawn together in a slow frown, a realisation, half an acceptance and half a resistance, of sorrow – and all was contorted with regret, bitterness. She averted those eyes, full of a dark flame, which hitherto had been fixed upon the crack – and glanced with coldness, with disbelief, with incredulous bitterness, at a necklace, all freshwater pearls, with little silver balls and pieces of lapis-lazuli between, hanging upon the door. Something in her gaze, her posture, shrunk away. From love? From a knowledge of what she did not want to have a knowledge of? She was intent – unable to draw herself away from the crack. There was determination in her face – in her chin that was slightly put forward – and yet there was hopelessness.

 

A Blue Glass Bowl

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She looked at him, as she raised the bowl to her lips – her gaze pointed and serious – Really? Should I do this? Remember this moment – are you sure we want to go through with this? He nodded slowly. Once more she raised the glass dish – once more she gazed into his face, questioning. Do your realise what we are doing? 

‘I realise,’ he replied – out-loud, unlike her – she had spoken with looks. She glanced at the sea out of the large, rounded window beside her – as though asking the waves what to do. They rolled on, steady, the first like the next. She glanced at the wood of the window pane – it was steady also, and still – of course, it was wood. She glanced down at the liquid in the bowl – it was clear as crystal – from it, unlike from the waves, unlike from the wood, came an opinion. There is was, so clear, so tempting, calling her. She sipped.

 

Wilted

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It was twilight. The last rays of the sun fell dim and golden about – the shadows in the trees were growing darker. Light and shadow made the scene.

In a clearing in the forest, one birch tree shot up, silvery, from a ground scattered with the bright faces of flowers. Beside the birch was a girl. She was dressed in robes as white as the moon, which rose now, thin and fragile looking, for as yet day remained and it had not yet earned full shimmering power over the forest. Her feet were bare upon the flowery turf – a trail of ragged brown hair once soft, hung down her back, and her head was wreathed with a wilted crown of leaves. Her hands were tied tightly to the lower half of the tree, forcing her to bend uncomfortably low. Her eyes were shut – it was as if she wanted to shun the last rays of sunlight, and the brightness of the flowers below – because for her they held no pleasure – for her, a dim veil seemed to hang over all, and to see them there, glinting faintly from behind the darkness, bright and smiling for others to see, but offering no comfort for her, made them seem mocking – and she shut them out. There was suffering in her face – not suffering from the hurting tightness of the chains, nor from the un-comfort of bending low, but from inside. And yet, she seemed resigned to that suffering, as the sun was resigned to its fate of drawing back every night to shadow – and she trusted, not to hope, for hope, like white figures in the distance, had left her – but to sorrow, and put herself in his hands.

Regal Haughtiness

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All turned to the lady. She was standing, richly dressed, in the darkest corner of the room – she stepped forward now. A light smile – more like a mere hint that she was smiling in the inside, than a real smile on the outside, hung about her faintly pouted lips, red as pomegranate jewels. Her eyebrows, light gold as the hair that hung, wispy as faint strips of cloud at sunset, were raised above her pale, smooth eyelids, hiding eyes regally and haughtily cast down. The opal fixed on her high forehead by a black silken string glinted tauntingly. Her expression seemed to say – now, finally, I am looked at – what will they say now? I have not been consulted so far, though all of what they have said depends on me. It is now that my turn to have some power comes. But I will not speak – they may be in suspense a moment longer – t’will do them good. 

‘My Lady -‘ she turned toward him, revealing blue eyes savoured at this moment with a sharpness.

‘Yes,’

‘What do you say?’

The hinting of enjoyment about the corners of her mouth widened. ‘Yes, you are wanting to know that, aren’t you. And I will tell you, by and by.’

The Letter 26eba848dcffcd4236dd993eaa8a923a.jpg

A small voice called – she looked round. In a little brick alcove, sparsely grown with ivy, stood a little girl. She was dressed in a frilled frock covered with tiny rosebuds, and she had curls as bright as the sun and blue eyes. She was wearing a necklace of pale green stones; round her face and her frizzy gold curls was an overly large dairymaid’s bonnet. She held a letter in her hand.

‘Please m’am, here is a letter for you.’ Her blue eyes were trusting and expectant.

The tall girl took the letter out of her hand, and looked it over.

‘For you,’ said the girl ‘read it.’

‘Who sent it? My mother.’

‘I see. Have you anything sharp about you?’

The little girl took off her green glass bead necklace, and handed it to the taller girl.

‘It fastens with a hook,’. The girl stripped the envelope open, and took out the contents. The little one stood on tiptoe in her brown boots to read it. The taller girl nodded, and then took her hand.

‘Come along then.’

 

Cold Glass      72ee88ed72111e3d319f4df0f0fda231

The marble floors were cool beneath her bare feet as she walked down, and the pattern of black and white made her head spin slightly. She moved along softly and noiselessly, through the half light of the hall, and dropped down before the great shiny mirror that stood there, her soft white silks spreading on the floor, showing up snowy against the white check parts of the tiling – and she had thought a moment ago nothing could be whiter than that. Throwing back her head, she ran her fingers through the sweep of ebony black hair that hung down her back, glinting even in that dimness. The air was perfectly still; the only sounds or breaths of breeze were caused by her skirts – but they was icy sounds, icy movements, like the floor, like the cold smooth glass of the mirror. She looked at her reflection; a face of fair skin, with dark eyes beautiful behind half-closed lids, and she sighed, remembering one day. A tear glistened on her cheek – she made no attempt to brush it away, and it fell warm and wet upon her skirts, and she felt glad of its melting warmness. She looked harder at the reflection – one seeing it without knowledge of what it had seen – and endured – would have thought it fair – thought, like her one day, that the owner of it would live to have a true love, one who, perhaps, when lured by her beauty, would notice elegancies of mind also, and for this reason their love would be true. But that reflection would be deceiving them – as it had deceived her so many times.

 

Sea Spray

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She stood, and the wind whirled her dusk blue skirts, shaggy as the waves ahead of her, sending them whipping, wet with spray, against her – her hair red as timber twirled round her head and blew over her face, and she peeped out from between the strands and watched the green-blue waves smash themselves against the sharp cliffs of rock, bringing a great ship with them. She half feared for a moment that the wetness on her face was tears – she could not, would not weep for him – but it was sea spray only, and she gathered her skirts about her and stood shivering against the gail, watching the ship break to pieces in the ragged torrent of waves and sea. ‘Yes, break it,’ she whispered, and felt calm – calm and ready to watch – calmer than the waves, though her heart broke inside her even as they broke against the beach and the rocks – even as the ship splintered in the water. The sea came up and drenched her leather slippers – she pulled them off and stood barefoot on the stones, some rounded, others deadly sharp. ‘I will not shed a tear for him,’ she told herself. A piece of timber washed up on the beach beside her – she grabbed it, and breaking off a piece, enclosed it in the leather purse at her waist. Then, she began to walk out – out into the lashing, thrashing water, boiling with spray and foam, and her skirts were drenched with the straggly slashes of rain and sea. She walked on till she was near the sinking ship, and she called through the noise of the gale. A man steering looked down at her through the spray – and she looked at him, a meaning glance, as the waves crashed down over her. Then the tears fell – and fast.

 

The Taste of Primroses

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He thought back to the days when she had been a young, flower-decked girl, coming with the others to laugh and sing and worship the gods in the forest clearings. He remembered the day he met her – on just one of those rampages with the other girls – he had come with  them being new to the town and wishing to get to know some of the girls.

She turned her fair, blooming face toward him, putting her hands to her head almost protectively, and fingering her soft, thick dark hair adorned with poppies, and the eyes green as the shaded olive leaves of the forest looked seriously and questioningly – a little nervously – into his. She was wearing a loose purple garment that enhanced the faint, delicate pinkness of her cheeks – the expression of her mouth was frail, graceful, quavering; sweet – like the taste of the primroses that grew by the stream. Her voice was like that too. So faint and delicate and sweet.

And now? Where was she now – who was she now? What now were her feelings toward him? He knew the answer to that question – but he would speak it, not even in his own mind – it was too painful a knowledge to be acknowledged as a knowledge – he could not bear to think it. How soft a young creature she had been then – incapable of any hard feelings. And so she might have been still – had not – he slammed his hand onto the table and sighed.

 

Empty

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One by one they came – one by one the golden vases were emptied. Each time, the bearer felt as though her soul was emptied. There were girls in muslins the colour of sea depths – others wore garments of the colour of the olive leaves – others wore mulberry red – some were red haired, other dark haired or gold haired – but yet, all felt the same as the clear water felt into the pot. Then they walked away, carrying the vases upon their heads or shoulders, or in their hands – silent, excepting what must come, and would come.

Till the last approached. She had auburn hair tied loosely up behind her head, and she wore a cloth the colour of woody shadows, hanging gracefully in loose waves about her. She came to the edge of the pot, holding the golden jar ready for pouring – and then, something in her face changed – and she lowered the pot and set it, steadily, upon the floor. The other girls gazed at her, astounded.

‘Desdemona – aren’t you going to put in your share?’

‘No,’ the girl replied, simply. ‘And you are not going to put in yours either,’ seizing the other girl’s water container and pouring the content onto the floor.

‘Desdemona!’

‘Yes.’

‘Why? You know we all have to,’.

‘Why do we have to? Look at that fearful face – those gaping jaws, and through them the water flows, down, down. And likewise will flow your courage, your self-respect. Will you let it happen?’

‘It has to happen.’

Wildflowers

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She was the daughter of the meadow and the countryside. Her hair was the sunlight that streams through the trees, and the darker patches were of the shadows in the forest, and of that substance also were her eyes – dark and flashing as the river waters. Her skin was of the wild roses that tangled her skirts. Her lips were the rose hips that come afterward upon the prickling briar. She was born of nature and she lived by nature. She cared for nobody but the wild animal and the rambling plants. To others she was heartless – she had no heart but what she found in the wild grass of the plains and the soil of the forest. But she was honey sweet as those wild roses – and she had an edge as sharp as the thorns growing upon them.

Guarding her Own

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There she will sit ’till time and time are done’ and there the waves will lap, softly, drawing back to leave the pebbles glistening and shining like unearthly jewels. There ever will she sit, looking out with sea blue eyes tinged with a faint longing, through the smoothed archways in the rock, toward the horizon. The she will sit, guarding what is her own. There she will sit, a’coming of her long, sea-smooth red hair, and singing, with a sound like the whispering waves, and the pebbles, drawn back, and flung, with a sound of thousands, of millions, of eternities. And she wraps it about her – that of the many changing colours of the sea, that that shimmers like the pebbles, and like what is in the silver bowl that she guards for her own – down there, she sits.

Sympathy

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She sits there, upon the harsh rock, because it is what They always expected her to do. She plucks the harpstrings because it is what They always wanted her to do. And ever since she was pearl and coral, lying at the bottom of the ocean, Their wish has been her command. She is one of Them now – and cannot escape, has never wanted to escape. She is a Siren – must be a Siren – alway has been a Siren. She cannot escape now.

She saw the ship smash against the rocks and sink, slowly – what was left of it. And she saw him fall, splashing and tossing into the waves, and come toward her. Still she plucked, and she had always been taught to do – until he grasped the rock, and looked up, hollow eyed, pleading and desperate into her face. He did not know who she was – but he saw her, and knew it was she who had wrecked his companion and the only thing that bore him on and gave him life. And he knew, too, that she could save him, by only reaching out one slender hand, white as sea froth, and pulling him up – and he asked her with his eyes, pleaded with her. She looked down at him, and tasted, as she did so, something she had never tasted before – and she felt as though her heartstrings – something she had never known she had before, would be plucked if she plucked the instrument any more – so she set it to rest on the rock, and gazed down, bewildered, sympathetic. Sympathy did not belong to a Siren, and she could not bear it. She shook her head – she could not. They did not want her to.

(Note: 

The background with the arch in the rock is the same in this picture as in the one before. That is interesting – perhaps it was a real spot which the artist was fond of painting.)

 

Tell me whether you think posts like this should become a regular thing!

 

 

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7 thoughts on “Random writing inspired by pre-Raphaelite paintings

  1. Wow, these paintings are so magical! Your writing is very rich and heartfelt. I’m going to look up that artist.
    I don’t know if you’re too big on fantasy literature or magical fiction, but every August I hold a fantasy literature camp (this is my second year doing it.) Though it is a while off, enrollment is open now so that I have plenty of time to make any changes I need to and put together teams! Let me know if you are interested, if you have a chance. 🙂
    http://hobbitsathogwarts.blogspot.com/2016/04/enroll-for-flc-2016.html

    ~Kathryn

  2. Thanks a lot!
    That sound interning!
    I do like magical fiction – I often write stories in which there is a hint of magic rolled in with ordinary life … really I am quite into most sorts of writing. I could also write one set completely in a magical world – it would be a change but not altogether without advantages. I am doing a writing challenge at the moment which I am slightly finding hard enough to keep up with without something else as well, but that will probably be finished by August. I will check it out – thanks for telling me about it.

    Ide

  3. I enjoyed these all so much. Your vivid, well-chosen words really do have the power to draw the reader deep into these paintings, past the sometimes very familiar surface image. I found myself seeing much that I hadn’t seen before, even in a few of these that I thought I already knew really well. What a stimulating, original way of engaging with someone else’s creative act! It would be a joy to read more of these, perhaps next time addressing a different art historical style. But you’ve certainly done something to make the Pre Raphaelite school even more full of meaning and intensity than it was before, which is saying a lot.

  4. Wow – this is amazing!! ❤ ❤ Keep up the good work!

    Sophia xx
    lantern-in-her-hand.blogspot.com
    theinkpotgirl.blogspot.com

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