Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Lizzie Siddal

She arrived, silent, still and beautiful. Alice Florence Rossetti. They took her away as Lizzie broke down in a pool of her own fluids. Laudanum relieved the pain and brought her back. She was very much real to her. 

For months she watched her, nursed her, and rocked her cradle back and forth. Dante watched in fear, for her sanity and his own. He missed the child he never got to know and the wife he once loved unconditionally, but everything changes, and she certainly had. She became nasty, vicious, something unexpected from a beautiful creature. Every so often she would come back, and although the grief was still there, a sparkle in her eyes would appear as she remembered playing catch just off the curb with her siblings. The stew and dumplings her mother used to make and curling up in front of the fire. Dante tried his best, but it was not good enough. 
He attempted to move the cradle, give it to his sister who was due anytime soon. It had been five months after all. She launched at him like a cheetah on its prey, arms flaring. Her nails tearing the flesh from his face as his attempt to defend himself failed. He threw her down and walked out. She clung to the legs of the cradle, weeping like a scene from a Greek play.
He returned days later. She had barely noticed he had gone as she had gotten high for three days straight. They made love. 
He thought the make up sex and her carrying another baby would at least papier-mâché over the cracks. She was barely showing that day she took her life. The day started off as everyday did. Breakfast. Dante left to see an artist friend of his. 
She wrote a note. Black ink, calligraphic handwriting:

‘Oh grieve not with thy bitter tears
The life that passes fast;
The gates of heaven will open wide
And take me in at last.

Then sit down meekly at my side
And watch my young life flee;
Then solemn peace of holy death
Come quickly unto thee.’[1]

She drank the final bottles of her laudanum. Only it understanding her grief as she slumped in a haze.  
As he walked towards their bedroom the atmosphere felt different . She lay still on the bed, note in her hand.
He knew, he just knew. 
He read the note; tears leaving his face hitting the page as the ink ran. He burnt it. She would get a church burial that was deserved of a grieving mother and to save bringing shame upon the Rossetti name, but they all knew.                
Her long copper locks filled her coffin, and in them he put the only copies of his poems. His words with her forever. 

During my Varieties of Fiction module we were given some facts about Elizabeth Siddal an artists' model. 
I had never heard of her but found her story not only sad but very interesting.
This is an extract from the piece I did.

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