Come into the Garden, Maud or is it Mary? Mary Seton Fraser Tytler Watts (1849–1938)

Come into the Garden, Maud
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron (1809–92)

COME into the garden, Maud,
  For the black bat, night, has flown,
Come into the garden, Maud,
  I am here at the gate alone;
And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,

  And the musk of the rose is blown.

For a breeze of morning moves,
  And the planet of Love is on high,
Beginning to faint in the light that she loves
  On a bed of daffodil sky,

To faint in the light of the sun she loves,
  To faint in his light, and to die.

All night have the roses heard
  The flute, violin, bassoon;
All night has the casement jessamine stirr’d

  To the dancers dancing in tune;
Till silence fell with the waking bird,
  And a hush with the setting moon.

I said to the lily, “There is but one
  With whom she has heart to be gay.

When will the dancers leave her alone?
  She is weary of dance and play.”
Now half to the setting moon are gone,
  And half to the rising day;
Low on the sand and loud on the stone

  The last wheel echoes away.

I said to the rose, “The brief night goes
  In babble and revel and wine.
O young lord-lover, what sighs are those,
  For one that will never be thine?

But mine, but mine,” I sware to the rose,
  “For ever and ever, mine.”

And the soul of the rose went into my blood,
  As the music clash’d in the hall:
And long by the garden lake I stood,

  For I heard your rivulet fall
From the lake to the meadow and on to the wood,
  Our wood, that is dearer than all;

From the meadow your walks have left so sweet
  That whenever a March-wind sighs

He sets the jewel-print of your feet
  In violets blue as your eyes,
To the woody hollows in which we meet
  And the valleys of Paradise.

The slender acacia would not shake
  One long milk-bloom on the tree;
The white lake-blossom fell into the lake
  As the pimpernel doz’d on the lea;
But the rose was awake all night for your sake,
  Knowing your promise to me;

The lilies and roses were all awake,
  They sigh’d for the dawn and thee.

Queen rose of the rosebud garden of girls,
  Come hither, the dances are done,
In gloss of satin and glimmer of pearls,

  Queen lily and rose in one;
Shine out, little head, sunning over with curls,
  To the flowers, and be their sun.

There has fallen a splendid tear
  From the passion-flower at the gate.

She is coming, my dove, my dear;
  She is coming, my life, my fate;
The red rose cries, “She is near, she is near;”
  And the white rose weeps, “She is late;”
The larkspur listens, “I hear, I hear;”

  And the lily whispers, “I wait.”

She is coming, my own, my sweet;
  Were it ever so airy a tread,
My heart would hear her and beat,
  Were it earth in an earthy bed;

My dust would hear her and beat,
  Had I lain for a century dead;
Would start and tremble under her feet,
  And blossom in purple and red.

The Rose bud garden of girls by Julia Margaret Cameron, June 1868,
 Featuring: Eleanor Fraser-Tytler, Christina Fraser-Tytler, Mary Fraser-Tytler, Ethel Fraser-Tytler. Albumen print

This photo features the four Fraser-Tytler sisters, Nelly, Christina, Mary and Ethel during their visit to Tennyson’s home, Farringford, on the Isle of Wight. It was June 1868 when this photo was taken which relates to Tenyson’s epic poem, ‘Maud’ (1855). ‘Queen rose of the rosebud garden of girls.’ It is a poem that he considered to be one of his best achievements. 

Even though this photograph is not considered an accurate illustration of the poem, it is one of my favorites. I’ve seen it hundreds of times never knowing one of the girls was Mary Seton Watts! I love making those connections between painting and subject matter, photograph and sitter.  Here Cameron’s maidens are set against a lush floral background which is more an attempt to capture the feelings represented within Pre-Raphaelite paintings and their subject matter; most notably, Rossetti and Burne-Jones. 

The Pall Mall Gazette in January 1868 said of it, ‘some of the groups or tableaux vivants lose, from the very reason of their artificialness, that noble and natural harmony of expression which is the charm of Mrs. Cameron’s productions.’ 

The woman seated second from the right was Mary Fraser-Tytler, who studied art with G.F. Watts for several years before becoming his second wife in 1886. She said of him, ‘He is the painter of painters for me.’

Mr. and Mrs. G.F. Watts. Mary reading to her husband in their home Limnerlease, Compton.


Maggie Peters said…
Wonderful post! Tennyson's poem with Julia Margaret Cameron's photographs are so beautiful. I've never heard of Mr. Watts or his wife but I always enjoy finding new people through you and your site!
Hermes said…
Such a beautiful photo and a fascinating background. Thanks
Kimberly Eve said…
Hi Maggie and Hermes,
I'm so glad you both enjoyed my post. Just a quick one this time. I was hoping to be able to write a more developed article on Mary Seton Watts, but I couldn't find enough information or reading materials! Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment!
Kevin Marsh said…
How interesting, the link between Mary in the photo and her in later life. Its great when this kind of thing happens and suddenly things make sense.
Great poem and photograph.
Kimberly Eve said…
Hi Kevin,
I know exactly what you mean. I just love it when you make those connections/discoveries!

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