Poetry

Worn Out

Elizabeth Siddal’s “Worn Out” features a speaker lying on her lover’s chest experiencing the tension of wanting him to stay and asking him to go. As she falls asleep, she tries to convince this lover that he should leave her because she cannot love him the way that he deserves to be loved. When read through Siddal’s own life, these claims reflect her feelings about her lifelong chronic illness and its effect on her marriage to Dante Rossetti. The speaker considers herself a martyr, begging her lover to leave in order to save himself and denying her own feelings in the process. The romantic imagery, archaic language, and allusions to heroes and martyrs invoke the medieval romance, a literary period that Siddal found compelling.

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