Thursday, 24 January 2013

Is Wallpaper Poetic?

Wallpaper in my Favourite Poets' Homes

I have wondered before if poetry is good for catching muses, and I thought I'd look into history to find out. In particular, I thought I'd look at images of the interiors of two of my favourite poets: Emily Dickinson and Percy Bysshe Shelley.  To let you know how obsessed I am with these writers, I have a picture of Emily Dickinson on my bookshelf framed.

Emily Dickinson
It looks a lot like this one and sometimes people ask me if that is my great-grandmother and I say I wish and if they are charitable, they say she is in spirit.  In my desk, I have a laminated post card of Shelley that I bought in the gift shop of a museum in London, probably the National Portrait Gallery, over twenty years ago. I have considered ordering a Keats is my Homeboy sticker but didn't trust the website, and told myself I was an adult anyway, and I am taller than he was and he is long dead. But when I think about that too much I cry.

Percy Bysshe Shelley
It is well known that both of these writers had direct access to the Muse and that both were noticed the intricate details of their surroundings.  So I thought I would look again at images of where they lived.

Here is the much documented bedroom of Emily Dickinson, where she sat a tiny desk every night and wrote poems.

Emily Dickinson's Room
Before I had noticed the narrow sleigh bed and the windows, but can you see in this picture the faint damask pattern on the wallpaper? Since she spent so much time in her room she looked at the pattern a lot. Could it have influenced the pattern of her thought?

Keats Interior

Here is room in a recently restored home in England where Keats stayed for a few years while writing some of his greatest poems and proposing to Fanny. (Notice the green sofa!) Was this Farrow and Ball pattern the one there at the time and if so, how did it influence Keats, who was influenced by all he saw?

Here is a Waverly damask I am thinking about for the front hall, perhaps above wainscotting.  It goes beautifully with Georgian Green. Would it put me into an Emily Dickinson frame of mind when I walk in the door?  Would it make me write great poems?

It would certainly be more interesting than what is there now, which is plain cream paint on drywall.

To see more of my wallpaper obsession, look at my new Pinterest board, Wallpaper Obsession:

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