petrusplancius (petrusplancius) wrote,

John Byam Shaw, two paintings

Two curious examples of belated Pre-Raphaelitism. This is the Caged Bird, from 1907. It would seem that she is an unmarried daughter who has to look after her aging parents and is thus not able to fly free like the escaped bird.

The Boer War, 1900; life is burgeoning all around her but she has lost her husband for unintelligible reasons under a different sky. I don't care for most of this artist's work, but these have a strange hallucinatory quality. And just look at that patch of willow-herb!

This makes me think of Hardy's poem about a humbler victim of that war:

They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest
Uncoffined – just as found:
His landmark is a kopje-crest
That breaks the veldt around;
And foreign constellations west
Each night above his mound.

Young Hodge the Drummer never knew –
Fresh from his Wessex home –
The meaning of the broad Karoo,
The Bush, the dusty loam,
And why uprose to nightly view
Strange stars amid the gloam.

Yet portion of that unknown plain
Will Hodge forever be;
His homely Northern breast and brain
Grow to some Southern tree,
And strange-eyed constellation reign
His stars eternally.

Housman wrote a poem at much the same time based on a similar thought (Last Poems, XVII), but it is not one of his better eforts. Here are two short poems of loss that may serve as a substitute.

The sigh that heaves the grasses
Whence thou wilt never rise
Is of the air that passes
And knows not if it sighs.

The diamond tears adorning
Thy low mound on the lea,
Those are the tears of mourning,
That weeps, but not for thee.


The weeping Pleiads wester,
And the moon is under sea;
From bourn to bourn of midnight
Far sighs the rainy breeze:

It sighs from a lost country
To a land I have not known;
The weeping Pleiads wester,
And I lie down alone.

(Sorry about the loss of the indentations)
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