Hanging off The Spiral Staircase

“‘Hanging off that staircase in the Stella McCartney dress’, says Lily, ‘I thought I might melt down its beautiful folds as we positioned it, painfully, just right. No open windows or wind machines in case it stirred.’ British Vogue’s Creative Director, Robin Derrick: ‘Tim sees pictures in front of him which are not yet there… the challenge and frustration he then faces is how to print out, compute what he sees in his head. The pictures of Lily Cole on the spiral staircase he shot for our July 2005 issue is a case in point. While travelling on holiday in India he came across a crumbling old palace. Within it he found the powdery blue hallway with the enormous rusting iron spiral staircase. He took a snapshot and on return to London took the picture of the location with a marker pen sketch over it of a girl standing in a long dress to our fashion director Kate Phelan. It’s a degree of realising his pre-visualization and all the details which have to be achieved to create that image which floats in his head that is interesting. The dress had to be made in the right colour blue to work within the location, to the right length, to the right weight so it felt airy and light.’”

Excerpt from Tim Walker: Pictures

 
 

Lily Cole and Spiral Staircase. Photo by Tim Walker. Whadwan, Gujarat, India, 2005

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Serenade (For Music)

Photograph by Michael Vincent Manalo

 
 

THE western wind is blowing fair
Across the dark Ægean sea,
And at the secret marble stair
My Tyrian galley waits for thee.
Come down! the purple sail is spread,
The watchman sleeps within the town,
O leave thy lily-flowered bed,
O Lady mine come down, come down!

She will not come, I know her well,
Of lover’s vows she hath no care,
And little good a man can tell
Of one so cruel and so fair.
True love is but a woman’s toy,
They never know the lover’s pain,
And I who loved as loves a boy
Must love in vain, must love in vain.

O noble pilot tell me true
Is that the sheen of golden hair?
Or is it but the tangled dew
That binds the passion-flowers there?
Good sailor come and tell me now
Is that my Lady’s lily hand?
Or is it but the gleaming prow,
Or is it but the silver sand?

No! no! ’tis not the tangled dew,
’Tis not the silver-fretted sand,
It is my own dear Lady true
With golden hair and lily hand!
O noble pilot steer for Troy,
Good sailor ply the labouring oar,
This is the Queen of life and joy
Whom we must bear from Grecian shore!

The waning sky grows faint and blue,
It wants an hour still of day,
Aboard! aboard! my gallant crew,
O Lady mine away! away!
O noble pilot steer for Troy,
Good sailor ply the labouring oar,
O loved as only loves a boy!
O loved for ever evermore!

Oscar Wilde

At Verona

The Remembrances of the Soul, photograph by Michael Vincent Manalo

 
 

HOW steep the stairs within Kings’ houses are
For exile-wearied feet as mine to tread,
And O how salt and bitter is the bread
Which falls from this Hound’s table,—better far
That I had died in the red ways of war,
Or that the gate of Florence bare my head,
Than to live thus, by all things comraded
Which seek the essence of my soul to mar.

“Curse God and die: what better hope than this?
He hath forgotten thee in all the bliss
Of his gold city, and eternal day”—
Nay peace: behind my prison’s blinded bars
I do possess what none can take away,
My love, and all the glory of the stars.

Oscar Wilde

I Am The Ghost of Shadwell Stair

Photograph by Michael Vincent Manalo

 
 

I am the ghost of Shadwell Stair.
Along the wharves by the water-house,
And through the cavernous slaughter-house,
I am the shadow that walks there.

Yet I have flesh both firm and cool,
And eyes tumultuous as the gems
Of moons and lamps in the full Thames
When dusk sails wavering down the pool.

Shuddering the purple street-arc burns
Where I watch always; from the banks
Dolorously the shipping clanks
And after me a strange tide turns.

I walk till the stars of London wane
And dawn creeps up the Shadwell Stair.
But when the crowing syrens blare
I with another ghost am lain.

Wilfred Owen

 
 

This poem was first drafted at Scarborough between January and February 1918, then in July or August it was revised just prior to Owen’s tragic death. Its message is cryptic, bound up with Wilfred’s sexuality and his association with gay literary figures such as Robert Ross (Oscar Wilde‘s friend), Osbert Sitwell and Charles Scott Moncrieff (the translator of Marcel Proust) who, along with Siegfried Sassoon, were doing much to forward Wilfred’s career as a poet.