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.