O Sorrow


17×27″, oil on panel, 2014


2015 “A Friendly Challenge,” Gallery 1261, Denver CO

2015 “Figurative One,” Gallery 1261, Denver CO

2014 “The Uncanny,” S. R. Brennen Galleries, Santa Fe NM

O Sorrow

by Tennyson

O Sorrow, cruel fellowship,

O Priestess in the vaults of Death,

O sweet and bitter in a breath,

What whispers from thy lying lip?

‘The stars,’ she whispers, ‘blindly run;

A web is wov’n across the sky;

From out waste places comes a cry,

And murmurs from the dying sun:

And all the phantom,

“Nature, stands with all the music in her tone,

A hollow echo of my own,

A hollow form with empty hands.”

And shall I take a thing so blind,

Embrace her as my natural good;

Or crush her, like a vice of blood,

Upon the threshold of the mind?

“In Memoriam,” widely considered to be one of the great poems of the 19th century, was inspired by the sudden and premature death of Tennyson’s closest friend. Comprised of 133 cantos written over the span of seventeen years, the reader can observe how Tennyson’s grief matures with the passage of time, is tamped down under the forward motion of his own life, finally to form an emotional foundation from which his perspective of life and death is forever changed.

This canto from “In Memoriam,” widely considered to be one of the great poems of the 19th century, personifies sorrow as a woman, a priestess with blind eyes, lying lips, and empty hands. Tennyson considers whether it is right for him to embrace sorrow as a good and righteous feeling, or to reject it as a “vice of blood,” a mortal weakness that demonstrates his own lack of faith and courage.

The model in this painting is the talented Canadian artist Tara Juneau. An unusual and exotic beauty, she has modeled for many artists, including Jeremy Lipking and David Gluck.

kate@katestoneart.com | 250-709-7441