I wrote this for another poetry website.
John Everett Millais’ The Blind Girl
First of all I sat for the blind girl. It was dreadful suffering, the sun poured in through the window. I had a brown cloth over my forehead which was some relief but several times I was as sick as possible and nearly argued. Another day I sat outside in a hay field, and when the face was done Everett scratched it out; he wasn’t pleased with it and complained about the showers.
Smoke from Everett’s pipe got in my eyes so I had to shut them. He told me to keep them shut. He told me not to see the beggar boy on the toll road; he told me not to see the three crows feeding on a dead rabbit or the adder by his own left boot. I laughed and said I could still see with my eyes shut. I could smell the acrid smoke rising from a factory chimney; I could hear the donkeys coughing in the field; I could hear the boy weeping. He told me to be blind.
The concertina was lent by Mr Pringle who had a daughter who had died. It was hers. He said we could keep it as it would never be played again. I smoothed my orange skirt and rested the concertina on my lap doing my best to be blind. It was difficult to keep my eyes shut on such a beautiful day. Everett said there was a double rainbow so I had to look. Everett wasn’t pleased as he was doing the face again. I stretched out my right hand and touched a wild flower growing in the grass. I knew it was a harebell as my little finger fitted inside just as if it was a thimble.
The next day the weather seeped into our drawing room and the double rainbow arched over the carpet. I had my eyes open and could see a painted lady fluttering at the window pane. I could hear concertina music softly playing.
[Part-found prose poem: Source/ Effie Millais’ journals]
3 thoughts on “The Blind Girl”
lovely story Eric. the artist was lucky not to be bitten by the adder? john —— Original Message ——
I invented the adder, beggar and the industrial smoke. Poetic licence! (Did you notice the website appearance has changed? Does it look ok to you? I nearly lost the blogs while trying to set up something else.)
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Erik, this is a great poem. I love the way you interacted with the painting. Really observed it, took it all in, and then added your own artistic interpretation. I finally got to stand in front of this work of art at the Seattle Art Museum’s “Radical Victorians” show this Summer. There’s really so much to see and to glean from this work. Bravo!
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