Monday, September 3, 2012
The Eve of St Agnes
After a bit of dithering I decided to add figures in the stained glass sky. It needed a bit of life, I felt, and the cat on its own didn't hack it.
(It is one of young Mrs Dilke's cats, from my Winter Snows collage of Keats House, one of the ones that didn't make it into that picture but was saved in a box on my table and is now having his day elsewhere, but now with the senior Dilkes).
So this is "Old Mr Dilke's" house in Chichester where Keats stayed from January 18-23 1819 and where he began to seriously think about and possibly pen the first lines of The Eve of St Agnes, the idea for which had been prompted earlier that week by his mysterious female friend, the sophisticated, elegant and independent Isabella Jones, who had pointed out the significance of the upcoming date.
According to legend on January 20, the eve of St Agnes, young women are able to see their future husbands in a dream.
Isabella, a keen reader of Gothic tales, suggested to Keats that it would make a great theme for a poem.
So hats off to Isabella.
The figures represent Porphyro and Madeline, the protagonists of the poem. But could equally be Keats and Brawne or even Keats and Miss Jones.
The pavement is made of fragments of a letter written to the poet's brother in America in which he informs him that "nothing much happened" in Chichester:
"I took down some thin paper and wrote on it a little poem called St Agnes's Eve ..."
A throwaway line if ever I heard one.