Two more poems by Lara Roozemond who I now title a Pre-Raphaelite Poet. She sent this (e-mail) poem written in English: which makes me wonder if she is responding to my feedback, that we poets beg for, and never get. So we build a staircase so we can look over the wall, for our soulful playmate, our one great……..regret.
I climbed stairs yesterday and looked east, asking what I will miss most about life. Now that I am old, I miss being young and playing with beautiful women. Where have all the playful women gone? Play – as a drama on stage. Play, as a poem exchanged. Play, as that one highly specialized regret to tell time by, that we set when we were young, when we are young: that is still fresh as the morning it is set with, that it goes with. Going to play with my friend, in Gothic ruins, in fields of flowers, in discarded clothes, on rainy days.
In Efflorescence Lara announces that she too is a Rose of the World.
A poet-model? Or, a model poet! A never tried combination – to take full advantage of. This is exciting. A new angle. A new mood. For sure – a play on words. Such a pretty waste, this white stuff that rises on rocks.
To Flower out
Blown away by fear, constantly fighting the motion’s will
Grounded when I have you near, but you’re fading away and Im standing still
Unreachable but longing for love, flourishing into a broken flower
But I will rise above, wont lose my source of power
Endless emotions stored Inside, anxious to open up this lock
A feeling I can’t describe, afraid the floating thoughts wont stop
When will this rollercoaster stop? Impatiently longing to feel free,
Ready for my wall to drop, and show the desire I keep within me
Tell me when will I fly free ? When will I find the strength to be?
When will I break lose from my shadow’s misery?
Tell me how to erase this history
I will keep fighting time, keep chasing the light
I wont stop, until I shine bright,
I will bloom, I will grow
and step out of this confined shadow
“One of Swinburne’s earliest works about love is Rosamond, a drama in the Elizabethan style, but one that employs a medieval setting and real historical figures as characters. Published in 1860, this play is extra-ordinarily significant for the poet’s future themes and artistic development.
Algernon Charles Swinburne was born in 1837 to a rather illustrious family. His father was Admiral Charles Henry Swinburne (son of Sir John Henry Swinburne) and his mother was Lady Jane Henrietta Ashburnham (daughter of the 3rd Earl of Ashburnham) and so, as their eldest child and a son, great things were no doubt expected of little Algernon. He grew up in lovely East Dene in Bonchurch on the Isle of Wight (or as I like to call it, the ‘Isle of Victorian Splendidness’) and went off to Eton, then to Oxford. So far, so traditional. You can see by the portrait of him at six years old (above), he already had his vibrantly red hair, and by 16 he was already writing poetry. The only blip on his record was being temporarily expelled (or ‘rusticated’, which sounds like a type of bread. I do like a rusticated loaf) for publically supporting the attempted assissination of Napoleon III by Felice Orsini.
Rosamond possesses many of the virtues of Swinburne’s later tragedy Chastelard, which has attracted somewhat more critical attention, but the earlier work is usually dismissed as a mere Pre-Raphaelite exercise. Both plays, however, prove inspired throughout by Swinburne’s youthful enchantment with courtly love topoi. In these dramas we can discern the depth of his fascination with the topoi of medieval romance and tourbadour poetry, as well as their effect [37/38] on his treatment of the carnal and the ideal aspects of his constant theme, love.
Analysis of these two works with emphasis on their courtly elements reveals the extent of his early assimilation of values fundamental to medieval love literature, which he adapted to his “modern,” that is, Romantic world view and to his unique artistic needs. In Swinburne’s version of Rosamond, the passionate entanglement between Henry II and his mistress culminates with Rosamond’s murder by his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, perhaps the most famous heroine of courtly love lore.2 Similarly, an ethos derived from courtly convention underlies Chastelard’s love for Mary Stuart.
The first of Rosamond’s five scenes is the most forceful in demonstrating Swinburne’s debt to troubadour conventions as well as to Pre-Raphaelite stylistic influences. Courtly love preoccupations and the medieval setting overshadow elements of Jacobean revenge tragedy throughout the play. Swinburne’s Rosamond, rather than the historical queen of the Courts of Love, espouses the religion of love and, as a result of her lived creed, is poisoned by Eleanor out of jealousy. The play’s predominantly lyrical psychodramatic vignettes stress highlights of the relationships among the four main characters during the last months of Rosamond’s life. The action begins in spring and ends in late summer, but the only explicit time lapse occurs between the fourth and fifth scenes, when Henry is abroad, subduing the French provinces. In addition to the historical characters, Swinburne creates the courtier Bouchard, the serviceable object of the jealous Queen’s ambivalent affections. But Rosamond is significant primarily for the characterization of its tragic heroine, whose passion for Henry suggests the power of the courtly love influence on young Swinburne. In the “Prelude” to Tristram of Lyonesse (written nine years later), Swinburne catalogues “the sweet shining signs of women’s names / That [38/39] mark the months out and the weeks anew,” which Love “moves in changeless change of seasons through / To fill the days up of his dateless year” (Poems, IV, 208. Alongside Guenevere, Hero, Cleopatra, and the rest is “The rose-white sphere of flower-named Rosamond.” This Swinburnean heroine conceives of herself not as an individual but rather as a type, the beautiful woman who inspires insatiable and potentially destructive passions: “Yea, I am found the woman in all tales, / The face caught always in the story’s face.” She is Helen, Cressida, Hero, and Cleopatra. In her particular “tale,” as in Swinburne’s versions of stories about Cleopatra, Guenevere, and Yseult, the heroine herself is destroyed. Yet we are conditioned from the play’s first scene, as the “flower-white” Rosamond wrestles with the fact of her own mutability, to accept the drama of her death as merely one episode in Love’s timeless, cyclic tragedy.
Swinburne’s choice of the “rose of the world” as one of his first subjects for verse suggests that he associated his conception of Rosamond with courtly love allegory, specifically the Roman de la Rose, in which the rose is the eternal symbol of the beloved and of the perfect beauty that is fearfully transient but simultaneously immortal.3 As in Swinburne’s later lyrics “Before the Mirror” and “The Year of the Rose,” Rosamond’s central symbol is the rose, and, like them, this play recapitulates the major preoccupations of courtly love poetry: the apotheosis of beauty; love as the necessary consequence of beauty fear of mutability; and a final insistence on the immortality of both love and beauty, which can be attained, paradoxically, only through death.
[39/40] The first scene of Rosamond characterizes its heroine as simultaneously enchanted with her own beauty, exalted by her love affair with Henry, and insecure about the permanence of her beauty and her love. Surrounded by the ephemeral rose blossoms with which she identifies in the maze at Woodstock, she is alone with her maid, Constance. Here Rosamond reveals her concern with the world’s slanderous gossip about her, and as the scene progresses she attempts gradually to rebuild her self-confidence-in her beauty, in Henry’s continuing devotion, and in the unassailable value of beauty and of love. At first, she is defensive:
If six leaves make a rose, I stay red yet
And the wind nothing ruins me; who says
I am at waste? (Tragedies, I, 231)