Sunday, 14 October 2007
TALENT TO A MUSE
Jane's role as the Muse in POSSESSED is central to the musical and so it has been important to understand the concept. Rossetti painted her as Mnemosyne, the personification of memory and mother of the Greek muses. Poets receive their powers by possessing Mnemosyne and their relationship to the muses, her nine daughters, fathered by Zeus. The words that accompany the painting are:
"Thou fill'st from the winged challice of the soul
Thy lamp, O memory, fire-winged to its goal."
The painting is curiously erotic, Jane stands holding a lamp in one hand (which looks more like a golden pepper grinder or some erotic tool) and a winged chalice in the other. This painting was originally called rememberance and was begun as a study for Astarte Syriaca. Rossetti believed it was one of his best works although it is probably the Proserpine painting we remember him for now. The pansy at the bottom of the painting is an artistic symbol for memory but it was also the code Jane used to invite Rossetti to her room, by leaving a pansy on his bed. She did the same thing with Wilfred Scawen Blunt, a lover she turned to later in her life.
Posted by Teresa Howard at Sunday, October 14, 2007