Poetry: Hothouse Flower

Alone is safe. Inside is safe. Unrequited love is safe – or much safer anyway – than venturing out into the world and speaking your heart. As much as this poem is a retelling of Tennyson’s heroine, the Lady of Shalott, it is about all of us. It is about the risk we take when we step outside our self-made exile and declare what is worth living for. What is worth dying for. That love is worth risking all. That weakness holds no place in hearts of those who are brave enough to love despite circumstance.
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The Lady of Shalott spent her life watching the deeds of her hero Lancelot through a magic mirror. She wove his story into legends and fell in love with him. She escaped her shadowy room, shattering her mirror and trying to release herself from a curse of solitude, a curse of only seeing the world through her magic mirror.  She journeyed by boat to meet him, but she died on the way. In Tennyson’s poem Lancelot finds her “fair of face” as he sees her boat drift toward him.

ls2 john william waterhouse

Hothouse Flower
It’s cold and grey here like a midnight graveyard
I want to live through this but I need a savior
Pull me up like a weed from the wreckage
Take me home to shelter from the cruel and savage
Like the lady of Shalott, like a hothouse flower
Put me out in the wild world and I wither
I lose my strength and all my charm
Without the safety of your arms
Like a hothouse flower
Weave my winding story, every thread a legend
I want to escape this life because I am so driven
Like a canary in a mine when the air is closing
One sweet release before I die for the life I’m losing
Like the Lady of Shalott, like a hothouse flower
Leave me out in the rain to fade and shiver
Down and broken by the storm
Lift me up and take me home
Like a hothouse flower
Dying from the very love that ties me to you
Aching for my release from your prison
Love has locked me away in the darkness
You’re my only light, my only reason
Like the Lady of Shalott, like a hothouse flower
Abandoned in the light to break and wither
Shattered mirror on the ground
The heart at last unbound
For a hothouse flower

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