Time for Tuesday Night Poets at Mommy's Lounge

This week's prompt was Virtue, which I found quite challenging. I could write about virtue itself, or the various virtues one can possess. But my mind kept drifting back to the romantic idea of the "maiden in the garden bower". In romantic poetry, the heroine is often isolated and alienated; typically in a garden as Nature will personify the society she truly dwells within. She is often there to protect and preserve her virtue, since Romantics thought of their world as corrupt. Think of some fairy tales: Rapunzel in her tower, Cinderella a maid in her own house, Sleeping Beauty - again, tower.

I searched through my poetry journal for some literary references to this kind of poetry....I was thinking along the lines of Keats, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, and I came across some scribbled verses, with notes in the margin, on this very topic. It seems I was attempting to capture that idea of virtue which must be preserved against a corrupt world -- lest it be lost. But also, a modern tone that hinted this type of "heroine idealism" is not only unattainable -- but so limiting to woman. The dangers of the pedestal, if you will. Anyway, there it was........an unfinished poem, that seemed to be waiting for this Poets' Lounge prompt, to finally be completed.

Bear with me though --- romantic poetry is known to be of an epic nature. Translation - lengthy!
(take note of all the "white" references... I really took the idea of white and virginal purity seriously back then!)

The Rose Maiden

He gave me a perfect, single white rose 
to clasp between my hands 
Amidst a shower of promises true, 
and two engraved gold bands.

The first proclaimed his love for me, 
the second, mine for him - 
he tied them both with ribbons of lace; 
that chained my heart at his whim.

He gave me a silent, stone courtyard 
with blossoms of snowy-white hue 
and seven ghostly white unicorns, 
with eyes so icily blue.

I sat in his courtyard, in mist like gown 
like a picture he painted - alone. 
my hair in a plait of rose petal white: 
a study that sat still as stone. 

One day I awoke in his courtyard, 
the ivory key in the door 
let loose in the garden he kept me in, 
to be free, a prisoner no more. 

The blossoms of snow in the garden 
had died from so bitter a frost; 
and the innocent, wide-eyed unicorns 
had galloped away and were lost. 

The wee bits of ribbon and lace he'd held 
were trailing a path on the floor: 
soiled, trampled and dirty, 
no longer white anymore. 

I led myself out of the garden
and found just one of the bands: 
the ring that said he loved me was gone,
and so was the rose from my hands. 

I looked down at my tattered clothes, 
no longer an angel-white gown: 
rather, I found myself wearing 
a torn dress; filthy and brown. 

My hair that had once been so platinum 
braided in small flowers of white
hung loose and long and tattered 
tangled; raven as night. 

The hands that had clasped a bloom so pure 
were bloodied, gnarled and torn
and there in my palm of porcelain white - 
embedded in blood was a thorn. 

I ran swiftly away from the courtyard 
and stopped at its' cast iron gates: 
for alone there sits a white maiden
and like a stone statue, she waits. 

There, tied with lace, to the ivory key
are two gold-plated bands.... 
and there in the garden she sits alone - 
A bloodied white rose in her hands. 

*I would love to give credit also to the mysterious owner of the initials "Y.C" that are scribbled alongside my own notes.  It seems likely that this was a writing assignment from my university days, which "YC" and I researched together.   It is likely we helped each other with those first verses...so Thank You YC for your input.  I hope you would approve of the finished product, could you see it.*
Even if you cannot write your own poetic way out of a garden bower, head on over to Mommys' Lounge and read some of the other prose offerings.