About Shakespeare’s character Ophelia from the play Hamlet . I have a print by Sir John Everett Millais in the style of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood depicting her final scene. It is this painting that was the inspiration for the poem.


A love betrayed, her father by adoring Hamlet now killed,

what mind could weather such blows. Her voice and deed

strange in manner cannot be stilled, as madness through

despair now grows.

She sings songs of nonsense verse and picks with fingers frail

flowers from her garden for gifts, to give to those who meet

poor tortured soul along the vale, as with voided thought to the

brook she drifts.

There stands a willow, it’s branches as if tears filling the stream,

a still and sombre silvered glass, steep banks guard the water and

with varied floral beauties teem. Without care or thought she puts

foot upon the grass.

Entranced by colour she grasped branch and to red poppy did lean,

but was again betrayed, now by willow. For amid the sound of

splintered wood, breaking water’s sheen she fell into the icy wet,

reeds became her pillow.

She was still, air filled cloth gave her time, safe footing to gain

upon the tangled bank. But sinister peace assailed poor Ophelia

promising release from her pain. Letting slip with gentle sigh under

the water softly she sank.

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