based on a painting by John Millais
by Greg Tome
Above the water surface hands implore the still air her pale face mouths words from yearning songs she lies afloat the gentle stream The water boosts the bold peacock-tail colours of her defiant dress doomed soon to surrender to saturation drag its contents down into another world where the edgy tensions of Elsinore court do not exist nor the mind-splitting heart-splitting clash of loves for father and prince for father killed by prince Streamside flowers leaves reflect the prince’s elusive flickering love the father’s love in the branches menacing protecting reaching over that vulnerable face framed by her wayward floating hair Away from this idyllic stream to a gaping resting place in a graveyard In contrast to the peace of where she yielded up her life pyrotechnics will reign as grieving brother and guilt-ridden lover challenge abuse posture Braggadocio threats insults split the air So many words too late Far too late
Shakespeare’s Hamlet was the play set for study in my matriculation year in secondary school a very long time ago. Anyone aware of the play has to have sympathy for Ophelia who is manipulated by her devious father, the king’s chief adviser. She loves Prince Hamlet who loves her in his own erratic style, in between periods of scolding and mocking her. It is not surprising that her sanity is threatened when her lover kills her father. Millais’s painting shows her floating in a stream that will drown her. The masochistic posturing of Hamlet and Ophelia’s brother at her burial site highlights the poignancy of her condition.
It was only some time after he had retired from teaching Secondary School History that Greg Tome spent time writing poetry. Since then he has had two books published by Ginninderra Press, Watching from the Shadows and Tilting at Time. He has had a number of poems published in literary magazines, the most recent by BlazeVOX and by the initial edition of Burrow.
He is an active member of the Southern Highlands branch of the Fellowship of Australian Writers where he is the convenor of activities associated with etymology.
Tome also enjoys writing ten minute plays which are performed in a local short play competition.