The Woodsman’s Daughter

(Larger image of The Woodsman's Daughter)
Painted by Sir John Everett Millais, The Woodsman’s Daughter is based on a poem by Coventry Patmore.

The following lines from Patmore’s poem were displayed with the painting when first exhibited at the Royal Academy:

She went merely to think she help’d;
And, whilst he hack’d and saw’d,
The rich Squire’s son, a young boy then,
Whole mornings, as if awed,
Stood silent by, and gazed in turn
At Gerald and on Maud.

He sometimes, in a sullen tone
He offer’d fruits, and she Received them always with an air
So unreserved and free,
That shame-faced distance soon became
Familiarity.

The poem tells the tragic tale of Maud, the woodman’s daughter, and a squire’s son. He offers her strawberries, beginning a friendship that becomes intimate when they grow older. This intimacy results in an illegitimate child. Of course, they can never be married because of their differences in class. Maud, in madness desperation, drowns their love-child and eventually goes insane.

External Links:

Coventry Patmore at Wikipedia
Coventry Patmore at the Victorian Web
Seduction and Foreshadowing Disaster in the Woodsman’s Daughter
Related Post: There is a sighting of The Woodsman’s Daughter in an Inspector Morse episode (The Way Through The Woods)

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2 thoughts on “The Woodsman’s Daughter

  1. I wonder if you have come across an informal critique of this ‘performance’, when first exhibited.
    Thomas Babbington Macaulay, historian and ‘poet’ (connected by family to Lady Trevelyan) records in his Journal (finally published 2009 Pickering Masters) 5th Aug 1851
    “…5 aug 1851 tbmj vol3:144-5 at “Royal Academy – immensely diverted with the Pre-Raphaelite performances particularly with those of Millais. One of the return of the dove to the ark, and another droller still, from some verse of Coventry Patmore’s – the poet and painter are well matched – doggerel illustrated by daubing…”
    ps – You produce an interesting website – I don’t necessarily agree with my critical kinsman!

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