8. John Everett Millais' Ophelia, at the Tate Britain.
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;
As one incapable of her own distress,
[...] Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.
Hamlet, Act IV
And I wish I could tell of the thousand thoughts I had standing in front of Ophelia at the Tate, but I can only guarantee that not a single one of them concerned Millais' technique, and marginally less certain that my thoughts included analysis, but can guarantee that I wondered which of the old tunes Ophelia may have chanted, and that I probably silently cursed Hamlet for what seems his indifference, about love and psychological violence that ends in disaster and death, and if it always has to be that way, and certainly about her beauty and her calm and gentle madness, and creating the circumstances in my head, the story, in which I could talk to her, to get to know her better, to understand the doom to which she feels led, although knowing that I could not change what fate, and Shakespeare, had planned for her. Perhaps, in the time I would spend with Ophelia, and the closest place to here is the d'Auria bar, and maybe she'd sing me some of those chants over a few long blacks, and they would become my favourite songs, and maybe I'd sing her something back, and the first that comes to mind is Strawberry Fields Forever (I don't know why, it just does), and probably when I sang always, no sometimes, think it's me, but you know I know when it's a dream, I think I know I mean a yes, but it's all wrong, that is I think I disagree then she'd probably be asking what the fuck that's all about, and I'd have to reply that I really had no idea either, and she'd maybe even be thinking it's not as good as the old chants, and I'm awfully tempted to touch her arm, maybe her shoulder, briefly, but I won't, as she might not understand that I mean her no harm.