Paul Delaroche, “The Execution of Lady Jane Grey”, National Gallery, London

She is very white.
Her skin is white,
her dress is white,
and the blindfold
is white.

Not black like the fur-lined cloak
of the disconcertingly big man
made more massive still
by the way in which he leans over her.
Is he comforting her or forcing her down

onto the chopping block
in the foreground?
This block is furrowed at the top.
We know what that is for!
Its base is broader than its top.

To the right stands the axe,
equally trapeze-shaped.
An obvious match
for the block, it’s goal
on the way to which

it will take a life.

The executioner stands calmly,
his left balancing the handle
almost casually,
if it weren’t for the forward left foot
betraying him: “Get on with it.”

he seems to want to say to
Lady Jane Grey,
and to the big man,
and to the two wailing ladies
in the shadows on the left.

A seventeen-year-old
is about to lose her head
for having been very much
in the wrong place:
The Throne of England.

The outrageous unfairness
is there in the picture.
That big bully hovering over her.
That professional killer
wanting to get the job done.

 

Delaroche_LadyGrey

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One Response to Paul Delaroche, “The Execution of Lady Jane Grey”, National Gallery, London

  1. Chilling ~ powerful and evocative

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