Friday, November 11, 2011

While Disease Had Come to Live at Lowood

While disease had come to live at Lowood
     Death its frequent visitor
While gloom within the passages
     Steamed with hospital smells
While drug and pastille strove all in vain
     Against mortal effluvia
 That bright May shone

Unclouded over bold
     Hills and woodland out of doors
As the garden glowed, hollyhocks sprang
     Tall as trees, lilies opened
Roses bloomed red, little bordered beds
     Were daisy-blithe with pinks
Sweetbriars scented morn

And evening with their spice
     Of apples – treasures fragrant
Useless all
     For most of us in Lowood
Except to furnish, now and then
     A blossom handful
To leave inside a coffin.

Text based on Jane Eyre (1847) by Charlotte Brontë. Image of Helen and Jane from Posted to dVerse Poets.


  1. The original text from Jane Eyre:

    While disease had thus become an inhabitant of Lowood, and death its frequent visitor; while there was gloom and fear within its walls; while its rooms and passages steamed with hospital smells, the drug and the pastille striving vainly to overcome the effluvia of mortality, that bright May shone unclouded over the bold hills and beautiful woodland out of doors. Its garden, too, glowed with flowers: hollyhocks had sprung up tall as trees, lilies had opened, tulips and roses were in bloom; the borders of the little beds were gay with pink thrift and crimson double daisies; the sweetbriars gave out, morning and evening, their scent of spice and apples; and these fragrant treasures were all useless for most of the inmates of Lowood, except to furnish now and then a handful of herbs and blossoms to put in a coffin.

  2. Very nice selection. Enjoyed how you embraced the role of editor -- transforming this into a effective late 19th century-styled free verse. Very nicely done! Thanks for taking on this challenge and creating a wonderful new work!

  3. I'll just rest in that last line. I really like the rhythm of this.

  4. Thanks for the visit. I had to stop back by and say that I love the blog title and the premise of the site itself. Write on.

  5. Well done. You made it yours and you made it more accessible for modern audiences while still adhering to the stark contrast between death and burgeoning life that existed in the original.

  6. Such a great choice of text. So beautiful, and you've adapted it so beautifully also. K.

  7. Really well done... it flows beautifully...

  8. whew...nice...sad...the fashioning for the coffin at the end leaves a bit of a chill...nicely done...

    sorry i am so late...just getting in...

    1. did not remember this at first...the close again..and that middle stanza as well with all the flowers and colors....

  9. Kathy, really like your take on Jane Eyre. I agree there is beauty throughout, but also with brian, as the end does leave a bit of chill. Very nice, thanks:)

  10. Quite an ending here... enjoyed it.

  11. the hospital smell and spice of apple use the scents effectively to make your point.. that last bit made me swallow hard...

  12. Without your explaining text my mind went to tuberculosis and those sanatoriums that were built for people to die in - slowly but in beauty

  13. Wowsa! feelin alittle shaken by this vivid poetry of what it's like to be around death. Well written.

  14. Nice--the gush of life and health outdoors, set in stark contrast to the threat of disease and death. Very well done!

  15. Oh how you have taken us back to that gloomy manse and the brilliant young people, ill and dying. Fantastic to read this!


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