Tag Archives: John William Waterhouse

In Memoriam XXVII

Gone But Not Forgotten. John William Waterhouse. 1873.
Gone But Not Forgotten. John William Waterhouse. 1873.


In Memoriam XXVII

Alfred Lord Tennyson


I envy not in any moods

The captive void of noble rage,

The linnet born within the cage,

That never knew the summer woods:


I envy not the beast that takes

His license in the field of time,

Unfetter’d by the sense of crime,

To whom a conscience never wakes;


Nor, what may count itself as blest,

The heart that never plighted troth

But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;

Nor any want-begotten rest.


I hold it true, whate’er befall;

I fell it, when I sorrow most;

‘Tis better to have loved and lost

Than never to have loved at all.

In Green Old Gardens

Ophelia. John William Waterhouse. 1889.


In Green Old Gardens

Violet Fane


In green old gardens, hidden away

From sight of revel and sound of strife,

Where the bird may sing out his soul ere he dies,

Nor fears for the night, so he lives his day;

Where the high red walls, which are growing gray

With their lichen and moss embroideries,

Seem sadly and sternly to shut out life,

Because it is often as sad as they;


Where even the bee has time to glide

(Gathering gaily his honey’s store)

Right to the heart of the old-world flowers—

China asters and purple stocks,

Dahlias and tall red hollyhocks,

Laburnums raising their golden showers,

Columbines prim of the folded core,

And lupins and larkspurs and ‘London pride’;


Where the heron is waiting amongst the reeds,

Grown tame in the silence that reigns arouns,

Broken only, now and then,

By shy woodpecker or noisy jay,

By far-off watch-dog’s muffled bay;

But where never the purposeless laughter of men,

Or the seething city’s murmurous sound

Will float up o’er the river-weeds.


Here may I live what life I please,

Married and buried out of sight,—

Married to pleasure and buried to pain,—

Hidden away amongst scenes like these,

Under the fans of the chestnut trees;

Living my child-life over again,

With the further hope of a fallen delight,

Blithe as the birds and wise as the bees.


In green old gardens, hidden away

From sight of revel and sound of strife,—

Here have I leisure to breathe and move,

And to do my work in a nobler way;

To sing my songs, and to say my say;

To dream my dreams, and to love my love;

To hold my faith, and to live my life,

Making the most of its shadowy day.

A Prayer for My Daughter

Miranda (The Tempest). John William Waterhouse. 1916.


A Prayer for My Daughter

William Butler Yeats, 1919


Once more the storm is howling, and half hid

Under this cradle-hood and coverlid

My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle

But Gregory’s wood and one bare hill

Whereby the haystack- and roof-levelling wind,

Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;

And for an hour I have walked and prayed

Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.


I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour

And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,

And under the arches of the bridge, and scream

In the elms above the flooded stream;

Imagining in excited reverie

That the future years had come,

Dancing to a frenzied drum,

Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.


May she be granted beauty and yet not

Beauty to make a stranger’s eye distraught,

Or hers before a looking glass, for such,

Being made beautiful overmuch,

Consider beauty a sufficient end,

Lose natural kindness and maybe

The heart-revealing intimacy

That chooses right, and never find a friend.


Helen being chosen found life flat and dull

And later had much trouble from a fool,

While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,

Being fatherless could have her way

Yet chose a bandy-legg’d smith for man.

It’s certain that fine women eat

A crazy salad with their meat

Whereby the Horn of Plenty is undone.


In courtesy I’d have her chiefly learned;

Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned

By those that are not entirely beautiful;

Yet many, that have played the fool

For beauty’s very self, has charm made wise,

And many a poor man that has roved,

Loved and thought himself beloved,

From a glad kindess cannot take his eyes.


May she become a flourishing hidden tree

That all her thought may like the linnet be,

And have no business but dispensing rounf

Their magnanimities of sound,

Nor but in merriment begin a chase,

Nor but in merriment a quarrel.

O may she live like some green laurel

Rooted in one dear perpetual place.


My mind, because the minds that I have loved,

The sort of beauty that I have approved,

Prosper but little, has dried up of late,

Yet knows that to be choked with hate

May well be of all evil chances chief.

If there’s no hatred in a mind

Assault and battery of the wind

Can never tear the linnet from the leaf.


An intellectual hatred is the worst,

So let her think opinions are accursed.

Have I not seen the loveliest woman born

Out of the mouth of Plenty’s horn,

Because of her opinionated mind

Barter that horn and every good

By quiet natures understood

For an old bellows full of angry wind?


Considering that, all hatred driven hence,

The soul recovers radical innocence

And learns at last that is is self-delighting,

Self-appeasing, self-affrighting,

And that its own sweet will is Heaven’s will;

She can, though every face should scowl

And every windy quarter howl

Or every bellow’s burst, be happy still.


And may her bridegroom bring her to a house

Where all’s accustomed, ceremonious;

For arrogance and hatred are the wares

Peddled in the thoroughfares.

How but in custom and in ceremony

Are innocence and beauty born?

Ceremony’s a name for the rich horn,

And custom for the spreading laurel tree.


Yeats’ prayer for his daughter may be my favorite poem. Here, the “murderous innocence” of the stormy sea causes him to think of what the future years may hold for the baby girl asleep in her cradle. He prays that she would be given kindness, wisdom, charm, and gladness, and that she would enjoy the prosperity and permanence of a “flourishing hidden tree.”

William Butler Yeats wrote the poem while staying in the tower at Thoor Ballylee during the Anglo-Irish War, two days after the birth of his daughter Anne in February 1919. The storm may be symbolic of the Irish struggle for Independence, a frequent topic of Yeats’s poetry. “A Prayer for My Daughter,” considered an important work in Modernist poetry, was published in 1921, in the collection Michael Robartes and the Dancer.

More than once in his “Prayer,” Yeats asks that his daughter would be like a green laurel tree. Feminists have decried Yeats for wishing his daughter to be a “vegetable: immobile, unthinking, and placid.” But a rooted tree has ever been the symbol of fruitfulness, beauty, and strength. (The laurel tree, specifically, is a symbol of victory and nobility.) The Psalmist sings of the righteous man, “He shall be like a tree, planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall propser.” The upright “shall never be moved”; the immobility here does not connote paralyzation or barrenness, but growth, fruitfulness, and continuance. “The wicked are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.”

A Red, Red Rose

My Sweet Rose. John William Waterhouse. 1908.


A Red, Red Rose

Robert Burns


O, my luve’s like a red, red rose,

That’s newly sprung in June.

O, my luve’s like the melodie,

That’s sweetly play’d in tune.


As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,

Soo deep in luve am I,

And I will luve thee still, my Dear,

Till a’ the seas gang dry.


Till a’ the seas gang dry, my Dear,

And the rocks melt wi’ the sun!

O I will luve thee still, my Dear,

While the sands o’ life shall run.


And fare thee weel, my only Luve,

And fare thee weel a while!

And I will come again, my Luve,

Tho’ it were ten thousand mile!

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May. John William Waterhouse. 1909.


To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Robert Herrick, 1648


Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

Old time is still a-flying:

And this same flower that smiles today,

Tomorrow will be dying.


The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,

The higher he’s a-getting,

The sooner will his race be run,

And nearer he’s to setting.


That age is best which is the first,

When youth and blood are warmer;

But being spent, the worse, and worst

Times still succeed the former.


Then be not coy, but use your time,

And while ye may, go marry:

For having lost but once your prime,

You may forever tarry.