2009 Poetry Theme Challenges

#6 John William Waterhouse

John William Waterhouse

My first creative bent is art. So for a theme challenge I am going to combine both my loves art and poetry now and then. This time it is the Pre-Raphaelite artist John William Waterhouse. He was a very private man so what limited details there are about him is summized below. The challenge is to use one of his pictures and write what it says to you rather than what you see. There are 10 more of his wistful ladies on the inspirations file for this theme to choose from as well as the three here.


I'll give kudos to anyone who pens Boreas (below)!.



John William Waterhouse was born in Rome on April 6, 1849 to the painters William and Isabela Waterhouse, but when he was five the family moved to South Kensington, near the newly founded Victoria and Albert Museum. He studied painting under his father before entering the Royal Academy schools in 1870. His early works were of classical themes in the spirit of Alma-Tadema and Frederic Leighton, and were exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Society of British Artists and the Dudley Gallery.


In 1874, at the age of twenty-five, Waterhouse submitted the classical allegory Sleep and His Half-Brother Death (below) to the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition. The painting was very well received and he exhibited at the RA almost every year afterwards until his death in 1917. In 1883 he married Esther Kenworthy, the daughter of an art schoolmaster from Ealing who had exhibited her own flower-paintings at the Royal Academy and elsewhere. They had no children.

Sleep and his half brother death

In 1895 Waterhouse was elected to the status of full Academician. He taught at the St. John's Wood Art School, joined the St John's Wood Arts Club, and served on the Royal Academy Council.

. Waterhouse's most famous painting is The Lady of Shalott, a study of a Elaine of Astolat, who dies of grief when Lancelot will not love her. He actually painted three different versions of this character, in 1888, 1896, and 1916. John William Waterhouse died on February 10, 1917. His grave can be found at Kensal Green Cemetery in London.

The Lady of Shalott

Happy quilling


Challenge Replies

Maryse Achong

Northern Winds

Jem Farmer

Mystical Spirit
My Sweet Rose
Oreithyia and the God

Ryter Roethicle

Una Donna dei Sogno

Maryse Achong

Northern Winds

Though winds assail me I still stand my ground,
The sound they make will not make me afraid;
They serenade me even as they pound
And surround me. I am no timid maid.
Each blade of grass, the blooms, pay them respect,
Near genuflect as they go rushing by…
Not I, I repel their cold and protect
Myself, bedecked in shawl - Boreas fie!

back to list

Jem Farmer

Mystical Spirit

Sleeping in the moon's grace with Death beside,
a chilled embrace to ward against the night,
when dreams of demonic poppies take fright,
his grasp will hold whilst sleeping thoughts reside,
in darker realms where my heart needs a guide
I pray he stays to save me from this plight,
sleeping in the moon's grace.

My brother Death is a mystical sprite,
who saw slumbering tears I often cried,
and comes to cast the grey phantoms aside,
so rest can strengthen my spirit each night
sleeping in the moon's grace.


My Sweet Rose

In early morning sun I wander here
it's here amid my garden's genteel flush
a crimson flush of poppies whisper hush,
the hushing breeze that brings your love so near.
So near I feel your presence touch me, dear,
your dearest heart awoke me with a rush,
my senses rushed by the fragrant sagebrush,
recall the brush of lips against my ear.

In thought I find the sweetest bloom you chose,
your choice remains to bring you closer still,
and still each bud of summer gives a thrill,
the thrill of love that like my garden grows.
A growing passion tickles at my nose,
I know inhaling scents that will fulfil,
refilling dreams of you, my love, until,
until I join my soul within your rose.


Oreithyia and the God

In springtime dreams beside the cherry tree
where Oreithyia met her deity,
a nymph in wind-blown draperies of slate
the northern blast contains a twist of fate.

Through vernal landscapes comes a sweet houri,
in springtime dreams beside the cherry tree,
he blows a breath to caress her flushed cheek,
as gold and sapphire catch her godly Greek.

Abducted child became a god's sweet bride,
to realms of myth found on the windward side,
in springtime dreams beside the cherry tree,
and mortal thoughts of times that used to be.

And now upon the land we feel his voice,
the chill of Boreas as we rejoice,
rebirth of nature bursting fresh and free,
in springtime dreams beside the cherry tree.

back to list

Ryter Roethicle

Una Donna dei Sogno

Picking wild flowers as she strolls
Walking along by green forested walls
Through the hills where bell bird calls
By fields and streams and waterfalls
Lit by shafts of golden sunbeams
Strolling slowly sniffs the flowers
Whiles away the waiting hours
Remembering times of moonlit bowers
The woman of my dreams.

Thus she wanders each and every day
Along natures lonely highway
Waiting for that man that went away
On returning she knows he'll stay
Lit by shafts of golden sunbeams
No more spending each night alone
Realising how lonely she has grown
And for all that he will atone
To the woman of his dreams.

back to list

Any Comments or Suggestions, please email me

The Poets Garret
2009 Poetry Form Challenge
2009 Poetry Theme Challenge
Tir Na nOg Poetry Community