Saturday, July 4, 2015


Dear Dante--
That chick isn't Beatrice.
Her name's Liz Siddal and she likes her laudanum.

Aligheri didn't really know Bice.
Oh, he bled a million words, like you do paints,
but it was just woolgathering, a big bowl of bullshit.

You keep that brush in your hand, but
she goes home,
zones out,
forgets you.

A 55 for Kerry at Real Toads. 

Process notes: Beatrice "Bice" di Folco Portinari is said to have been the inspiration for Dante Aligheri's writings, though he said he met her only twice, nine years apart, and she was married to a banker. 

Elizabeth Siddal was Dante Gabriel Rossetti's favorite model. He painted her thousands of times, often as Aligheri's Beatrice. Friends said "Beata Beatrix" (shown at top) didn't really look like Elizabeth.

In the spring and summer of 2009, I wrote several (bad) love poems for someone who, to me, looked like Rossetti's Beatrice, and so I gave her that nickname. It occurs to me that writers and painters may be beautiful idiots. I have tried not to be one again, since then.




Gail said...

I like your style.

Mama Zen said...

I wondered where you'd go with this. I like it!

Anonymous said...

I love it, love it, love it.

beat rice

She won't put up with his shit, that's for sure. I think she's more of a sushi girl.

"Her name's Liz Siddal and she likes her laudanum."

Ba-bam. That's right.

"but it was just woolgathering, a big bowl of bullshit" No lie, girl. Preach it, sis.

"she goes home,
zones out,
forgets you"

Who needs him, anyway?

Not this cute little beatnik.

"writers and painters may be beautiful idiots" I like that. I'd much rather be a muse.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

Beautifully done :D

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I love those who are brave enough to be "beautiful idiots", LOL. I like that when she goes home, she zones out and forgets about the artist.

Cloudia said...

So spare and perfect. Lines like a cudgel that opens the skull allowing the long suspected truth to emerge, Shay

( '>


C.C. said...

I enjoyed your process notes as much as your piece. Really very fascinating!! But, I'm with Sherry....there is something to be said about the bravery of being a beautiful idiot every now and again ;-)

Outlawyer said...

A lot of panache--I rather like Dante! But I'm not so sure about his Beatrice either. Thanks, Shay. k.

hedgewitch said...

I've always thought that painting had an odd vibe to it--a woman not quite real--you explain why here, but then is any woman(or man) who figures in an artist's imaginary circus ever anything but a loose interpretation? I tend to agree, anyone can be a fool for love a few times, but after awhile, it's not an accident but a choice.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

I love it! The first verse is pretty much what I was thinking when I saw the image today. *Grin.* Though I didn't take the thought to its logical conclusion as you do.

I think we all have to cut our teeth on the beautiful idiocy of bad love poems! (That image of Billy Idol could almost do it for me — oh, what a face! It's the cheekbones ... it's the lips ... it's the intense eyes....)

Fireblossom said...

Rosemary--got to love Billy. Just another lost angel...

Anonymous said...

Totally would not have thought of that - but it fits the picture and the history - great job!

Anonymous said...

Well done! Love the letter perspective!

Lolamouse said...

Love it! Oh the self-importance of some artists!

Kerry O'Connor said...

Such an interesting viewpoint you bring to both art and poetry here, Shay. One of the marvels of the artistic process for me, is how very ordinary people may inspire the muse of poet or painter or sculptor and become transcended by the resulting artwork. I often wonder if these women whom the artists obsessed over were in fact worthy of their genius.

Other Mary said...

Yeah, how does that work? Can you imagine either of the Dantes being quite so enthraled with their main squeeze if they really knew them?

Sioux said...

You an idiot? You've got to be kidding.

Marian said...

Beautiful idiots. Yes, indeed! Speaking for myself, of course.

grapeling said...

cool. i'm mostly an idiot, no qualifier needed... ~

Lydia said...

"Beautiful idiots" Ha, I love that.

I am not aware of his writing, which makes me an idiot in need of correcting that!

Susie Clevenger said...

It seems the artist needs correcting and his muse doesn't give him a second thought when she is free of her pose. Love it!