Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sonning Bridge c1885

Violet Hunt (who had been to school with Jenny and May) stood on the old bridge at Sonning and spotted Jane and family with others midstream in a boat:

"I recognised the occupants of the first boat that waited a little as the other negotiated the archway. In a flash I realised that they were the right people to be rowing in this bit of purely medieval England. Standing up and shouting indecorously worded advice to the other boat was the man who loved a battle shout better than a symphony, the Defender of Guievere (sic) and of Gudrun, straddling, legs apart in the boat as erstwhile waggishly depicted by his pals on the ceiling of the Oxford Union, the Viking in the blue byrnie, the maker of my mother's dining-room table; now, in the afternoon of his life, self-styled, 'the idle singer of an empty day', the Hector of Hammersmith and Varangian Guard of his own Metropolitan District - William Morris ...
Behind him, sitting up very stiffly, as a weary queen on her dias of Turkey-red cushions, was the historic Janey - 'Pandora' - 'Prosperpina' - 'Aurea Catena' - 'Astarte Syriaca', and 'La Pia' of the Purgatorio - gaunt, pale, ashen-coloured hair and all. 'Scarecrow', as she called herself but still a 'Stunner', to use the Pre-Raphaelite term of praise, she looked just then, in the morning glare, very like the forlorn wife of Nello Di Pietro, the lady undone by the miasma of the marshes:

Siena mi fe, Maremma mi disfecemi.

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