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A Prayer to Mother Radcliffe

"[Sir Walter] Scott himself said that [Ann Radcliffe’s] prose was poetry and her poetry was prose. She was, indeed, a prose poet, in both the best and the worst senses of the phrase. The romantic landscape, the background, is the best thing in all her books; the characters are two dimensional, the plots far fetched and improbable, with 'elaboration of means and futility of result'." - British Authors Before 1800: A Biographical Dictionary
 
Mother Radcliffe, seated in
a great armchair of deep
and churning red velvet,
the dowager alive
with castles and
secreted knives that stud
their grim brickwork.
 
The Gothic world created whole
by your divine whimsy
obsesses this mere traveller, within
that ancient landscape wrought
with blackened moors
and cottages
around those high castles.
In one of which a duchess yearns
for liberation from
the haunted corridor her wicked father
keeps her down,
and where the sighing of branches
through a lost window
may be mistaken for a ghost.
  
Nestled in your finery
before a burning grate,
shadows of boughs
on the walls, like bones
in an old Italian cellar.
Or else a hidden room
from some Sicilian romance.
  
You turn your head slowly,
grinning like banditti
around a cave fire.
  
And yet that smile is filled with warmth
and loveliness encompassing
a world of mystery expressed
in wild gardens and houses.
  
And if the marionettes are not
like people seen about,
dancing to the ordered tunes
composed within your walls,
why should we want them any other way?
Your puppets loom above
the simple human grind,
dancing in the bonfire
of grand Gothic romance,
sheer and wide and wonderful.
The_Silly_Sibyl
Written by The_Silly_Sibyl
Published
All writing remains the property of the author. Don't use it for any purpose without their permission.
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