Ophelia

According to my mother, I showed interest in reading at a very young age. Instead of turning the television on while she worked on household chores, she gave me magazines or newspapers to keep me occupied. Though I was unable to actually read yet, my parents were surprised to realize that I know the correct orientation of my reading materials without their guidance. This, perhaps, was an indication that I will grow up with fondness in reading.

What does reading have to do with this?

If you’ve been following this blog for quite some time, or at least stumbled into this humble space of mine by chance, then I would assume that you have also visited my About page to at least give you an idea what you’re getting yourself into. Kidding aside, while I’ve kept my blog name—SCATTERBRAIN—for years now, I don’t think I’ve ever told the story behind its tagline:

Irrational Enigma of Drowned Beauty

It was in fact inspired by John Everett Millais’ painting, Ophelia, the heroine who drowned herself in the belief that Hamlet did not love her in the aforementioned Shakespearean play. I have been drawn to this painting since I first saw it in a book (a collection of astonishing stories and astounding facts that blows one’s mind) I read some 15 years ago. This piece of artwork evokes images from my childhood, and it continues to resonate with a lot of different memories to this day. This painting may have come across as an eerie work of art at the beginning, but the more I look at it, the more I appreciate its timeless beauty. I know it doesn’t make much sense; at least it’s consistent with the blog name.

I’ll let you in on a little trivia: Elizabeth “Lizzie” Siddal (25 July 1829 – 11 February 1862) who modelled for Millais as Ophelia in this painting died of laudanum overdose. She had been married to the painter and poet, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, for just two years. Despite a long engagement, the marriage had been as turbulent as it was short. She suffered from severe depression due to their still-born child, thus she took laudanum to help her sleep and give herself an appetite for food; however, it eventually led to her tragic death.

Rossetti was first and foremost a painter, but he came to believe that poetry was a purer form of expression. Over the course of the next few years, he decided to publish a volume of his own work—but many of his best poems were deep under the ground with Lizzie. One day, Rossetti decided to dig Lizzie up from the grave. He was not physical present, but a friend told him that her famous golden-red hair was longer than it had ever been in life, and that she was as beautiful as she had been on the day she died.

The legend of the woman whose beauty not even death could alter was born, and has flourished ever since. (Everlasting Poetry: The book that was brought back from the grave, Did You Know?)

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