"Thisbe," John William Waterhouse, 1909, Wikipedia photo.
“Thisbe,” John William Waterhouse, 1909, Wikipedia photo.

A stucco wall between our houses dauntingly
Divides, separating rivaled families, loving
Hearts deliberately twained in two. Pyramus,
While I listen intently at the wondrous fracture,
Our impassioned whispers oft go unheard, perils
Of forbidden moments, tears of bitter discontent.

At times, my love, light glimmers through jagged
Fissure, hope springing forth when begrudging
Walls relent. Through anguished emotions,
Masonry crumbles, openings expand admitting
Naked light, affections mirrored, breathless words
Mingling, relieving our vexing parental plight.

In anxious moments, I listen for your footfalls,
Sounds that you are nearby. All reason scorned,
Our families impart equal doses of pain. We have
No argument with them, pleading for acceptance
By condemning clans, belligerent minds unmoved
As blocks of quarry stone.

In family-imposed denial, my love kindles warmly,
Shaped by your gentle rounding words, potter’s
Turning wheel. Desires kiln-fired, dancing flames,
Affections glazed radiant and true. Trembling
And star-crossed, I yearn bared nights with you, my
Chalice waiting, maiden’s brimming warmth.

In barefoot quiet, Pyramus, I am veiled though
Utterly revealed, untouched yet my heart ravaged
And ensnared. We meet at Ninus’ tomb beneath
Our Mulberry tree. Unwed secret passions,
Deep within plant your seed to family mercies
And reunion or to our mutual ruin and distain.

Variation on the Ovidian account, Thisbe and Pyramus must overcome two obstacles: the fissured wall as represented in the accompanying Waterhouse painting, and the “quarry stone” cold hearts of the respective families. Unwed, the couple elects to have a child in hopes that it will unite the two rivaling clans.

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