Scene at the Tate
Even in the gallery, there’s gossip. Strangers talk about what was staged––the model with silver gown stayed hours in a tin tub, laid out like caviar––to the general view, a maiden voyage. And Millais, Pre-Raphaelite, realist to the manner born, grappled with the Surrey flies, windy gusts that could toss him to the water, and a notice for trespassing––murder most foul of the hay. What, then, did he confide to a friend? Painting “…under such circumstances would be greater punishment to a murderer than hanging.” Not to mention the medical bills when Siddal of the bath took chill in the long hours of painstaking detail. Art exacts a price and so the heart, as Ophelia floats in her perpetual spring.