After Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
A Secret Mystery
Soulful Maud wanders in solitude
thinking of the strangest attitudes,
of Dickon’s stumpy gait,
of cousin Dudley, loutish and rude,
she flees from him, escapes.
Silas: sinister opium freak,
Milly: rustic, amiable, weak,
thoughts of a marriage to Dudley reek.
Maud’s held like bait.
Madame de la Rogierre appears,
Maud appalled, recalls earlier fears,
plagued by poison intent.
Her governess of lies and spy years;
tortured, Maud’s in torment.
Dragged and driven to a train carriage,
forced to think on a hateful marriage,
knows her qualms will be disparaged.
Shock-scathed; she’s spent.
Wakes to find herself at Bartram-Haugh,
told she is mistaken by the sobs
of hollow-faced Madame,
great long nose and gobbling, cackling chops,
presence like a phantom.
Maud watches crouched in a corner, hidden.
Dudley takes a spiked hammer, driven
to smash the brains of a strange victim.
Thought it was Maud.
Polly Robinson © 2014
September 2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Le Fanu (1814-1873). He’s famous for several gothic tales and poems. In A Glass Darkly and Uncle Silas are amongst his better known works. This poem is based on the story in Uncle Silas and on the form of his poem The Stream.