Lady Caroline Blanche Elizabeth Lindsay, and her take on Venice

Lady Caroline Blanche Elizabeth Lindsay, and her take on Venice

Lady Caroline Blanche Elizabeth Lindsay, and her take on Venice

Researching a novel is a real treat for a book lover like me. For my new book, The Echoes of Love, I plunged myself into all manner of reading material on Italy and the specific places in which I situate the narrative: Tuscany, Sardinia and, of course, Venice. Poetry, in particular, inspired me – indeed it always has, since my childhood, when my parents introduced me to classic works, and through my French Literature degree. Poets have a such a way of creating the feel for a place in the mind through the rhythms and vocabulary and syntax they employ.

One of the poets whose work I most enjoyed in my research was Lady Caroline Blanche Elizabeth Lindsay (see here for a picture). Born in 1844, Lady Lindsay  was the daughter of the British politician Henry Fitzroy and she grew up to marry Sir Coutts Lindsay, who was an artist and twenty years her senior. Together with her husband, she set up the Grosvenor Gallery in 1877, which was very important in the Aesthetic Movement and provided a sanctuary for some great artists whose works the Royal Academy did not appreciate.

According to the correspondence of James Whistler, she was ‘the epitome of the cultured and fashionable aesthetic woman’. Clearly a very artistic lady, Lady Lindsay did dabble in painting (and in playing the violin), but she was a writer at heart. Shortly after founding the Grosvenor Gallery, just four years since getting married, she and Sir Lindsay parted company, and literature must have been a source of solace for her as she lived out the remainder of her life alone.

Lady Lindsay wrote some novels, but it was in the area of poetry that she was most prolific. Her collection From a Venetian Balcony: And Other Poems contains a wealth of verses on Venice that transport you to the ancient city. Today I’m sharing one of my favourites, more a song than a poem, which somehow always leaves me craving a punnet of ripe, sweet cherries…


Bar Carol

In the June-tide, in the June-tide,

In the sweet and summer noon-tide,

From Murano,

From Burano,

And from far high-towered Torcello,

Come the wherries,

Filled with cherries,

Flaunting sails of russet yellow,

Floating onward, silent, gliding

As by magic measure sliding,

Drifting o’er the silver sea.


In the June-tide, in the june-tide,

In the sweet and summer noon-tide,

When a certain boatman ferries

Venice-ward his freight of cherries-

Marco’s on his way to me.

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