Time stood still – Natalie Shau

Today, I really could have done with time standing still, or a clone, or both. Shau’s representation of time ruling at the head of the women really does have a true ring to it.

I don’t have a lot to say about the picture itself, really I chose it because it brought to mind a poem by Emily Dickinson. I really appreciate the eccentric writing of Dickinson. The poem that this image brought to mind is this:-

“Because I could not stop for Death –

He kindly stopped for me –

The Carriage held but just Ourselves –

And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste

And I had put away

My labor and my leisure too,

For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove

At Recess – in the Ring –

We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –

We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed Us –

The Dews drew quivering and Chill –

For only Gossamer, my Gown –

My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed

A Swelling of the Ground –

The Roof was scarcely visible –

The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – ’tis Centuries – and yet

Feels shorter than the Day

I first surmised the Horses’ Heads

Were toward Eternity –”

The sullen face and stopped clock in the art work, resonates this poem for me. Almost looking like a women in mourning, the pale skin stark against the black hair and purple flowers. The vines growing through the women’s hair, as if growing over her, almost to be forgotten.

Dickinson’s poem speaks of death as a person, taking no heed of the time and activity of that of the person who has died. Together they take a leisurely carriage ride to the grave. It’s also a way of saying life goes on. In stanza 3 it describes children playing, nature continuing and the sun setting.

In stanza 4 the pleasantries of death and the carriage ride changes as they pair arrive at the grave. The line “The dew drew quivering and chill” talks of the chill of a dead body, and deaths true reason for visiting, to deliver the person to the afterlife.

Stanza 5 accurately, yet oddly describes the grave, the last residence for the person. The imagery is so easily recognisable and gives an oddly homey.

Finally in stanza 6 it talks of the loss of the sense of time. It may as well have stood still as eternity is spent in the final resting place.

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