That's brilliant Tannis! I'm so glad you enjoyed it and the crackers were still as loud! ;D Were you planning on going anyway? Don't know why but I didn't think you were based in the UK (or British). Well, if you not and you hadn't planned it's nice to see you can attend international events at the drop of a hat!!
Yes, Amy, the crackers were deafening - marchers lighting them up with their torches and throwing them feet from the crowd! Apparently, a flaming tar barrel is thrown into the river Ouse to symbolise the throwing of the magistrates into the river after they read the Riot Act to the bonfire boys in 1847! And the burning torches and Martyrs' Crosses were fab! I had been thinking on going to Lewes for Bonfire Night, but the Rocket's Tail thread made my mind up to go.
I like the idea of attending international events at the drop of a hat. And now the nights are drawing in, it would be great too to be based somewhere more warm.
Kate Bush: "I think that as a very young child, perhaps I aspired to becoming something like a great actress." The Tony Myatt interview (1985)
~ George Frederick Watts RA (1817-1904), Found Drowned, 1867.
And, dressed as a rocket on Waterloo Bridge-- Nobody seems to see me. Then, with the fuse in my hand, And now shooting into the night And still as a rocket, I land in the river. Was it me said you were crazy?
Waterloo Bridge is a road and foot traffic bridge crossing the River Thames in London, England between Blackfriars Bridge and Hungerford Bridge. The name of the bridge is in memory of the British victory at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
During the 1840s the bridge gained a reputation as a popular place for suicide attempts. In 1844 Thomas Hood wrote the poem The Bridge of Sighs concerning the suicide of a homeless young woman who threw herself from Waterloo Bridge. The poem was inspired by the pathetic plight of Mary Furley, a fallen woman, who, just weeks before the poem’s publication, was sentenced to be hanged in London for the murder of her young child. The poem was widely anthologised and frequently illustrated in books of Victorian poetry, including an etching by Sir John Everett Millais in 1858. Paintings inspired by the poem included Augustus Egg's Past and Present, Abraham Solomon's Drowned! Drowned! and G.F. Watts's Found Drowned.
~ Augustus Leopold Egg, Past and Present, Nos.1-3 1858, Oil on canvas: Augustus Leopold Egg’s painting, known as Past and Present Nos.1–3, (1858), is a triptych in the genre of narrative painting. The subject is the 'fallen woman’ and together the three paintings depict an entire scenario from discovery and outcast to the moments before the woman’s final demise. When these paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1858, they had no listed title and, indeed, remained without title at Egg’s premature death in 1863. Instead, the following subtitle was affixed: 'August 4th-Have just heard that B-has been dead more than a fortnight, so his poor children have now lost both parents. I hear she was seen on Friday last near the Strand, evidently without a place to lay her head. What a fall hers has been.’ At the exhibition, the drawing-room scene was positioned in the centre (fig.1), with the painting of the two children to the right (fig.2) and that of the mother to the left (fig.3). Egg was one of several artists who, along with poets, playwrights, and novelists during the 1840s and 1850s, dared to depict a 'fallen woman’, who, in time, became almost a symbol of the Victorian era. In his Academy Notes (1858), Ruskin publicly attempted to rectify any 'mistakes in the interpretation’ by giving his 'true reading of it’: "In the central piece the husband discovers his wife’s infidelity; he dies five years afterwards. The two lateral pictures represent the same moment of night a fortnight after his death. The same little cloud is under the moon. The two children see it from the chamber in which they are praying for their mother; and their mother, from behind a boat under a vault on the river-shore." Thus, the triptych came to be understood as representing an adulteress with the consequences of her actions, as prescribed by Victorian social morality, depicted in the paintings either side. www.tate.org.uk/research/tateresearch/tatepapers/07spring/rutherford.htm
Thomas Hood The Bridge of Sighs, 1844
One more Unfortunate, Weary of breath, Rashly importunate, Gone to her death!
Take her up tenderly, Lift her with care; Fashion'd so slenderly, Young, and so fair!
Look at her garments Clinging like cerements; Whilst the wave constantly Drips from her clothing; Take her up instantly, Loving, not loathing.--
Touch her not scornfully; Think of her mournfully, Gently and humanly; Not of the stains of her, All that remains of her Now is pure womanly.
Make no deep scrutiny Into her mutiny Bash and undutiful: Past all dishonor, Death has left on her Only the beautiful.
Still, for all slips of hers, One of Eve's family-- Wipe those poor lips of hers Oozing so clammily.
Loop up her tresses Escaped from the comb, Her fair auburn tresses; Whilst wonderment guesses Where was her home?
Who was her father? Who was her mother? Had she a sister? Had she a brother? Or was there a dearer one Still, and a nearer one Yet, than all other?
Alas! for the rarity Of Christian charity Under the sun! Oh! it was pitiful! Near a whole city full, Home she had none.
Sisterly, brotherly, Fatherly, motherly Feelings had changed: Love, by harsh evidence, Thrown from its eminence; Even God's providence Seeming estranged.
Where the lamps quiver So far in the river, With many a light From window and casement, From garret to basement, She stood, with amazement, Houseless by night.
The bleak wind of March Made her tremble and shiver; But not the dark arch, Or the black flowing river: Mad from life's history, Glad to death's mystery, Swit to be hurl'd-- Any where, any where Out of the world!
In she plunged boldly, No matter how coldly The rough river ran,-- Over the brink of it, Picture it--think of it, Dissolute Man! Lave in it, drink of it, Then, if you can!
Take her up tenderly, Lift her with care; Fashion'd so slenderly, Young, and so fair!
Ere her limbs frigidly Stiffen too rigidly, Decently,--kindly,-- Smooth, and compose them; And her eyes, close them, Staring so blindly!
Dreadfully staring Thro' muddy impurity, As when with the daring Last look of despairing Fix'd on futurity.
Perishing gloomily, Spurr'd by contumely, Cold inhumanity, Burning insanity, Into her rest.-- Cross her hands humbly, As if praying dumbly, Over her breast!
Owning her weakness, Her evil behavior, And leaving, with meekness, Her sins to her Saviour!
~ Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896), 'The Bridge of Sighs', 1858: A female suicide on a London Bridge was an iconic figure in Victorian culture. This etching illustrates a stanza from Thomas Hood's poem 'The Bridge of Sighs': 'Where the lamps quiver/ So far in the river, / With many a light/ From window and casement, / From garret to basement, / She stood, with amazement, / Houseless by night'.
Waterloo, the "Bridge of Sighs"
I have all but done a poem on 'the Bridge of Sighs' -- ie Waterloo, and its Suicides. -- Thomas Hood
Thomas Hood's 1844 poem "The Bridge of Sighs" lent itself well to visualization. Martin Meisel calls it the "locus classicus" of Victorian scenes of female suicide. Commenced just two weeks after the heavily publicized suicide attempt of seamstress Mary Furley, nothing of Furley's story, however, remains in the poem. Furley, a forty-year-old single mother whose only money had been lost or stolen, attempted to drown her children and herself in the Regent's Canal to avoid returning to the harsh treatment of the Bethnal Green workhouse. She was condemned to death for the murder of one child, but public sympathy, anti-poor law lobbyists, and the demonstrations of reformers led to a reduced sentence of transportation for seven years. Hood initially retained aspects of Furley's history, seen in the following posthumously published verses: "The moon in the river shone / And the stars some six or seven -- / Poor child of sin, to throw it therein / Seemed sending it to Heaven". In the final version, however, he metamorphosed Furley into a seduced, abandoned, and love-mad woman who redeemed herself through a suicidal leap off Waterloo Bridge, so that "All that remains of her / Now is pure womanly" (lines 19-20).
Hood restaged the suicide at Waterloo Bridge instead of a more secluded canal, locating it near London's scopic, commercial, and religious center. Anderson reports, "In 1840 around 30 suicides a year (or some 15 per cent of London's registered suicides) were committed from this bridge". She suggests that its penny toll may have attracted the suicidal, ensuring privacy and, therefore, a greater chance at success. But in reality, only a small proportion of the city's suicides occurred at Waterloo Bridge, and its reputation as the "Bridge of Sighs" or "The Arch of Suicide" (Anderson 201) stems more from London's visual and literary cultures than actual practice.
"The Bridge of Sighs" was frequently republished, often in illustrated editions including prints by John Everett Millais. The success of the poem stemmed largely from the narrator's remaking of a female suicide and its plasticity to become a sign supporting Victorian ideals. The narrator first orders the "Dissolute man" (line 77) who has found the drowned woman to "Take her up tenderly, / Lift her with care" (5-6). Next the man is told to observe the body: "Look at her garments, / Clinging like cerements" (9-10). He is then instructed by the narrator on how to refashion her: "Wipe those poor lips of hers / Oozing so clammily" and "Loop up her tresses / Escaped from the comb" (29-32). Finally he erases the woman's last imprint of self-expression and recomposes her body himself, hastened by the narrator: "Cross her hands humbly, / As if praying dumbly, / Over her breast!" (85-102).
The necrophilic excitement at the opportunity the dead female body presents reminds us of the sexuality which caused her fall. The narrator claims "Death has left on her / Only the beautiful" (25-26). Her attractiveness in death stresses her purification through drowning. Even though she was "Mad from life's history" (121) due to unbridled sexuality, her "Burning insanity" (98) did not prevent her from "Owning her weakness, / Her evil behavior, / And leaving, with meekness, / Her sins to her Saviour!" (103-06). The narrator's reclaiming of her body and her story replicates Victorian medico-judicial discourse, which sustained a suicide's image for all to see through the coroner's inquest, and posthumously projected mental disorder onto the escaped patient. Her body is turned into an instructive sign marking the way out for "One of Eve's family" (28).
Waterloo Bridge (1940), starring Robert Taylor and Vivien Leigh: World War II has just broken out and a soldier stops on Waterloo Bridge to reminisce. The film then cuts to a flashback to World War I with the young soldier Roy Cronin (Robert Taylor), who has stopped on the bridge, meeting Myra Lester (Vivien Leigh), a ballet dancer. The two agree to marry, and Myra is dismissed from the ballet. Her friend Kitty also quits the ballet (Myra and Kitty rent a small apartment). Myra meets Roy's mother (Lucile Watson) and, while waiting, she reads in the paper that Roy has been killed. Myra grows depressed and Kitty buys her medicine with income she earnt as a prostitute. Myra, too, becomes a prostitute as a means of coping with their financial circumstances.
Myra works at Waterloo Station and, in the midst of attempting to pick up potential customers, sees Roy coming from the train. He greets her warmly and takes her to lunch where she acts strangely towards him. He assumes their engagement will go on as planned and Myra accepts his offer. The two go to his home in Scotland where Myra and Roy’s mother become friends. Myra dances at a ball and speaks with Roy's uncle who tells her they are a proud and esteemed family, the Cronins, and that a sweet ballerina will be the perfect wife for Roy. Myra feels guilty and speaks with his mother, telling her the truth of her position. Myra then decides she can no longer carry on her facade. Myra leaves and Roy, frantic, looks for her. He recruits Kitty's help and she takes him to Myra's haunts. He soon learns of her double life, but he still wishes to marry her and continues searching frantically for her. Myra, meanwhile, is on Waterloo Bridge and, seeing an approaching convoy of army ambulances, commits suicide by walking into the path of the ambulances. The film cuts back to Roy, years later, standing on the bridge, and reminiscing of a love lost.
I put on my pointed hat And my black and silver suit, And I check my gunpowder pack And I strap the stick on my back.
And, dressed as a rocket on Waterloo Bridge-- Nobody seems to see me.
Then, with the fuse in my hand, And now shooting into the night
And still as a rocket, I land in the river. Was it me said you were crazy?
I put on my cloudiest suit, Size 5 lightning boots, too.
KaTe: And I am sure one of the reasons it stuck so heavily in my mind was because of the spirit of Cathy and as a child I was called Cathy, it later changed to Kate. It was just a matter of exaggerating all my bad areas, because she's a really vile person, she's just so headstrong and passionate and ... crazy, you know. "Profiles in Rock", with Doug Pringle, December 1980 www.gaffaweb.org/reaching/iv80_pir.html
So is Rocket's Tail an internal dialogue between the child Cathy and the changeling KaTe? ...