Thursday, June 26, 2008

An Overripe Pear

I am reading a pretty interesting book about Mary, Queen of Scots. Anyway, here is a bite from one of the entries in her actual journal:

June 11, Anno Domini 1582. I am now in my fortieth year - how chilling that sounds! I cannot be the first to be surprised to be suddenly "old," but when I was fifteen, twenty, and twenty-five, I thought youth would last forever.

Nicholas Hillard came to Sheffield recently to paint miniatures of Shrewbury and his family, and he painted one of me, too. I hated it. The woman he painted was like a distorted vision of the girl painted by Clouet long ago in France. She has the same features, but they had blurred and run, were softened like an overripe pear. I have often observed such pears lying on their platters. They still hold their shape, but they are soft enough that the bottoms are a little flattened where they are lying, and the skin is slightly swollen. These, incidentally, make the best eating, if one eats them just at that moment. The next day they are inevitably mushy and show spots.

To think I am in that state! And yet, upon looking in my glass, I had to admit that the portrait was accurate, it captured all the features. It was even, truth to tell, a little flattering. My chin is fuller than he painted, and my nose sharper.

A woman of forty. She is seen as a simpering, silly thing, a witch, or else a lascivious man-eater, hungry for young male flesh.

Good writing holds through time. If Mary would have been alive today, she probably would have been a blogger.


Nice Jewish Guy said...

Wasn't Mary executed?

WebGirl said...

Yes, her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, had her head chopped off.