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Ben Morgan: a poem

Giorgio de Chirico painted Le Muse Inquietanti (The Disquieting Muses) in 1917 while recovering from a psychological breakdown in Ferrara, Italy. It is one of his major "metaphysical" pieces – influenced by the neoclassical architecture of Ferrara – which he believed bore witness to a reality beyond the confines of time and space. The painting inspired Sylvia Plath’s poem of the same name in 1958.

Giorgio de Chirico Paints The Disquieting Muses

Turning a corner he saw her –


in the shape of a girl.

Pale and very young,

hair a sunshine bun,

eyes dark but sere.

Now – from time

to time – he meets her:

she haunts his haunts,

sunset-coloured squares,

redbrick arches.

His alien flowers

bloom on the wood,

dandelions, deadheads –

she's there, pacing,

hands in her pockets,

murmuring things he can't hear.

On night walks through Ferrara

the field of swinging lamps

divides to show her:

just ahead of him always,


in the swirls of her overcoat.

Ben Morgan is a poet and academic based in Oxford, UK. His first poetry pamphlet, Medea in Corinth: Poems, Prayers, Letters, and a Curse, was published by Poetry Salzburg in 2018. It retold the famous myth through poetic letters, spells, prayers, sonnets and songs, as well as theatrical interludes. He has also published poems in Oxford Poetry, One Hand Clapping, The Sunday Tribune and The High Window. He has taught Shakespeare studies and early modern literature at a number of colleges in Oxford and is completing a monograph on Shakespeare and human rights for Princeton University Press.

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