Miss Morris’s earthly paradise

“Back in the 1920s my sister left the Cyanographers and followed the teacher to her secluded retreat in the south.”


Plate 30


When the hounds of spring are on winter’s traces,

The mother of months in meadow or plain

Fills the shadows and windy places

With lisp of leaves and ripple of rain;

And the brown bright nightingale amorous

Is half assuaged for Itylus

For the Thracian ships and the foreign faces

The tongueless vigil, and all the pain.


Plate 23


Come with bows bent and with emptying of quivers,

Maiden most perfect, lady of light,

With a noise of winds and many rivers,

With a clamour of waters, and with might;


Plate 24


Bind on thy sandals, O thou most fleet,

Over the splendour and speed of thy feet;

For the faint east quickens, the wan west shivers,

Round the feet of the day and the feet of the night.


Plate 28


Where shall we find her, how shall we sing to her,

Fold our hands round her knees, and cling?

O that man’s heart were as fire and could spring to her

Fire, or the strength of the streams that spring!


Plate 32


For winter’s rains and ruins are over,

And all the season of snows and sins;

The days dividing lover and lover,

The light that loses, the night that wins;


Plate 17


And time remember’d is grief forgotten,

And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,

And in green underwood and cover

Blossom by blossom the spring begins.


Plate 16


And Pan by noon and Bacchus by night,

Fleeter of foot than the fleet-foot kid,

Follows with dancing and fills with delight

The Mænad and the Bassarid;


Plate 39


And soft as lips that laugh and hide

The laughing leaves of the trees divide,

And screen from seeing and leave in sight

The god pursuing, the maiden hid.


Plate 27


The ivy falls with the Bacchanal’s hair

Over her eyebrows hiding her eyes;

The wild vine slipping down leaves bare

Her bright breast shortening into sighs;


Plate 15


The wild vine slips with the weight of its leaves,

But the berried ivy catches and cleaves

To the limbs that glitter, the feet that scare

The wolf that follows, the fawn that flies.


Plate 31


“My sister liked to imagine that the place existed out of time, that the earthly paradise was still there and the teacher was still waiting for her.”


Plate 25


The verses come from the Chorus from Atlanta in Calydon by Algernon Swinburne which I first encountered in an anthology when I was a teenager. Swinburne was mentioned briefly in the Victorian Dreamtime post along with the Rossetti family. They are all characters in Tim Power’s recent novel Hide me among the graves which I can highly recommend if you like very strange books.

Thanks to Alex Buchholz of Westminster Central Reference Library for loaning me the book from which I scanned the images, Margaret Morris Dancing which features the photographs of Fred Daniels.


As I’ve been a bit economical with the text this week here is a little extra.

Lady Clementina Hawarden who I featured in the blog last year (The first fashion photographer – see link opposite or go straight there : https://rbkclocalstudies.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/the-first-fashion-photographer-clementina-lady-hawarden/ ) is in the news. An album of her photographs and sketches is coming up for auction at Bonhams in March and is expected to sell for up to £150,000. (http://www.bonhams.com/press_release/12780/) It’s no surprise that there should be huge interest in new pictures by one of the most significant figures in the history of photography. You can find some samples at Mail Online (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2274357/Lady-Hawardens-19th-century-prints-sale.html) where there are some nice large images and on the Telegraph site (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturepicturegalleries/9854840/Lady-Clementina-Hawarden-one-of-Britains-first-female-photographers.html)  where there is also a gallery of 10 images.

I had been planning to do another post about her myself but now I think I’ll save that idea for another day. In the meantime here is a self portrait of Lady Hawarden herself which I found at www.artblart.com . It has the same quiet and unearthly atmosphere as the pictures she took of her daughters.

self portrait lady clementina hawarden

I won’t be bidding myself on 19th March but if you have a few hundred thousand burning a hole in your pocket you could do worse. It would be good if the album ended up in public hands where we could all get to see the pictures

4 responses to “Miss Morris’s earthly paradise

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