A SHADOW FELL

‘Stalker’ . . . Photo: WHB – 2020

A shadow fell across my track
As I walked ‘neath the evening sky;
I became concerned,
My stomach churned,
As the stranger hurried by.

Just a shudder felt
In my worried step
As I caught just a glimpse of his frame
And I knew at once
What it was he wants
As he held out his hand to me.

“Think you may have dropped
Your walking stick”,
He politely said to me.
He passed it on
Then he was gone
And I felt sad to be me.


Gwen JOHN – Rodin’s stalker

RODIN-Winged Victory-Model-Gwen John

‘Winged Victory – sculpture by Auguste Rodin… modelled by Gwen John

Gwen JOHN – Rodin’s stalker

sucked into his circle
seduced by his attention
the youthful innocent
charmed
awakened
flattered and captured
by his reputation
the innocent ingénue
capitulated
sat
posed
exposed
her youthful innocence
to his gnarled advances
he
an old cracked vase

now linked
to her driven impulsion
her aroused possessiveness
his fate
brought upon himself
his penance for taking her
in her prime
using her
then when she had fully succumbed
to his ardour
discarding her like a broken vase herself
now he was reaping the seed he had sown
being punished in his decrepitude
by her youthful zest
her constant attentions
her clinging ardour
demanding and draining
pressing constantly for his attention
now enfeebling him
the shards of his desire
scattered on the potters floor
Winged Victory de-flowered
disposed of
its remnants scattered
as so many others
the artist’s detritus
swept into a corner of his studio
to take their place
alongside those other rejected manikins
all now redundant.

she became the stalker
the stalker stalked
the predator compromised by his own lust
and trapped in his rapacious past
impotent now and fearful
his winged victory over her
turned turtle
finally repaid
by her triumph over him
resolved only
at his death


Gwen John (1876-1939) , sister of the renowned Welsh painter, Augustus John (1878-1961),  grew up in Pembrokeshire, Wales.  After leaving Britain for France in 1904 she became first the model, then the lover, of the much-older Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) .  Their relationship lasted a decade and shaped the remainder of the Welsh artist’s life and work.

In her lifetime Gwen John was primarily known merely as an appendage to both her brother and to Rodin.  She died on the outbreak of WW2, unrecognised as a serious artist.  In more recent years, however, following rediscovery of her work by art scholars since the 1970s, her own artistic work has undergone a re-appraisal.  

 She is now considered, particularly as a portrait painter, to be almost on a par to her brother.  In fact, Augustus is quoted as saying before he died in 1861, that “In 50 years Gwen will be better known than I am as an artist”.

The story of Gwen John’s intense infatuation with Rodin can be readily discovered on the internet. 

GwenJohn-SelfPortrait-1899

Gwen John – Self portrait – 1899

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