Mystery: lo! betwixt the sun and moon...
                             – from Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s poem, Astarte Syriaca

                 Impressions of Jane


I wore that day a peacock dress –
all ocean-blue, all envy-green –
and practiced once again the art
of being seen and yet, unseen.
I clasped a pomegranate, gouged
to show a fleshy, garnet kiss
reflected in my own lips, but
my mouth was never red as this.
Do not be fooled by all you see,
for I am no Persephone.


Immortalised in verse and paints:
a Venus Queen, with silvered skin.
’Twixt sun and moon, I hardly know
where mythos ends and I begin.
My neck was not the flower stem
his quill and brush would fondly claim.
I cast no spells, but simply bore
another pose, another’s name.
Do not be fooled by all you see;
nor lyrical hyperbole.

PANDORA – 1879

A golden casket at my breast;
a curling coronet of chalk.
In silence, shuttered as the box,
as if I had no mind to talk.
A tight-lipped waxwork effigy,
a strange Pandora in reverse,
who keeps her secrets tightly locked
and hidden – my own private curse.
Do not be fooled by all you see:
no truths lie in mythology.


His woman at the window, who
brings Dante comfort, clothed in shrouds
of palest blue. Ethereal,
against a screen of painted clouds.
Yet I was not immaculate.
His comfort, yes – but at what cost?
My marriage vows forsaken, my
identity subsumed and lost.
Do not be fooled by all you see.
A canvas is not history.


A vision on a pedestal:
a goddess-witch, to idolise.
But never seen by others as
I see myself through my own eyes.
Not ever mother; never wife,
and nothing ever as it seems.
For this is not my narrative,
and these are someone else’s dreams.
Do not be fooled by all you see:
I am not here. This is not me.

©Sarah Doyle, 2014, for the Pre-Raphaelite Society, originally published in The Pre-Raphaelite Society Review. [Click on the images to enlarge them, and for more information about them.]

Created 1 November 2020