Sunday, 30 May 2010

A warning

Upon my return from the north I found myself in a condition of extreme exhaustion. It was close to midnight when I finally crept into bed. I craved no more than easeful rest. Unfortunately in inverse proportion to my ennervation my companion seemed full of life. She talked and fidgetted, bounced and laughed until I was so desperate I held her still, her wrists shackled in one hand, her hair clutched in the other. This did not help. In quieter moments my companion sings to me at night. Although she often forgets the words they are beautiful stories of cowboys and lost love. One of my favourites is "Lydia the tatooed lady" a woman who, when the words come to mind, ends up marrying an Admiral who loves the ships afloat on her hips. This morning I read news of the world's most tatooed lady Julia Gnuse. According to reports she is 95% covered in ink and first decided to go under the needle in order to hide scars from porphyria cutanea tarda. I remembered from my reading that it had been suggested that Porphyria was a disease thought to be linked to vampirism. Vlad III the Impaler himself believed to be an antecedent of the Dracula character was also said to had suffered from Acute Porphyria a condition causing extreme sensitivity to sunlight.

My google erudition has also led me (after many years) to a rereading of Browning's poem "Porphyria's Lover" transcribed below. I feel it needs little comment.

The rain set early in tonight,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst to vex the lake:
I listened with heart fit to break.
When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
Which done, she rose, and from her form
Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soiled gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,
And, last, she sat down by my side
And called me. When no voice replied,
She put my arm about her waist,
And made her smooth white shoulder bare,
And all her yellow hair displaced,
And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,
And spread, o'er all, her yellow hair,
Murmuring how she loved me — she
Too weak, for all her heart's endeavor,
To set its struggling passion free
From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
And give herself to me forever.
But passion sometimes would prevail,
Nor could tonight's gay feast restrain
A sudden thought of one so pale
For love of her, and all in vain:
So, she was come through wind and rain.
Be sure I looked up at her eyes
Happy and proud; at last I knew
Porphyria worshiped me: surprise
Made my heart swell, and still it grew
While I debated what to do.
That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
Perfectly pure and good: I found
A thing to do, and all her hair
In one long yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around,
And strangled her. No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.
As a shut bud that holds a bee,
I warily oped her lids: again
Laughed the blue eyes without a stain.
And I untightened next the tress
About her neck; her cheek once more
Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss:
I propped her head up as before,
Only, this time my shoulder bore
Her head, which droops upon it still:
The smiling rosy little head,
So glad it has its utmost will,
That all it scorned at once is fled,
And I, its love, am gained instead!
Porphyria's love: she guessed not how
Her darling one wish would be heard.
And thus we sit together now,
And all night long we have not stirred,

No comments:

Post a Comment