"The Bridge of Sighs"
is a famous poem of 1844 by Thomas Hood
Thomas Hood was a British humorist and poet. His son, Tom Hood, became a well known playwright and editor.-Early life:...
concerning the suicide of a homeless young woman who threw herself from Waterloo Bridge
Waterloo Bridge is a road and foot traffic bridge crossing the River Thames in London, England between Blackfriars Bridge and Hungerford Bridge. The name of the bridge is in memory of the British victory at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815...
Although Thomas Hood (1799-1845) is usually regarded as a humorous poet, towards the end of his life, when he was on his sick bed, he wrote a number of poems commenting on contemporary poverty. These included "The Song of the Shirt
The Song of the Shirt is a poem written by Thomas Hood in 1843.It was written in honour of a Mrs. Biddell, a Lambeth widow and seamstress living in wretched conditions. In what was, at that time, common practice, Mrs. Biddell sewed trousers and shirts in her home using materials given to her by her...
", "The Bridge of Sighs" and "The Song of the Labourer". "The Bridge of Sighs" is particularly well-known because of its novel meter, complex three syllable rhymes, varied rhyming scheme and pathetic subject matter.
The poem describes the woman as having been immersed in the grimy water, but having been washed so that whatever sins she may have committed are obliterated by the pathos of her death.
Make no deep scrutiny
Into her mutiny
Rash and undutiful:
Past all dishonour,
Death has left on her
Only the beautiful.
The poem was widely anthologised and frequently illustrated in books of Victorian poetry, including an etching by Sir John Everett Millais
Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Baronet, PRA was an English painter and illustrator and one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.-Early life:...
in 1858. It was also set to music by Reinhold Ludwig Herman (1849-1919). Along with Hood's other notable serious poem, The Song of the Shirt
, it influenced several Victorian artists. Paintings inspired by the poem included Augustus Egg
Augustus Leopold Egg 2 May 1816 in London, England – 26 March 1863) was a Victorian artist best known for his modern triptych Past and Present , which depicts the breakup of a middle-class Victorian family.-Biography:...
's Past and Present
, Abraham Solomon
-Life:Born as the second son of Meyer Solomon, a Leghorn hat manufacturer, by his wife Catherine, in Sandys Street, Bishopsgate, London, on the 7th May 1823. His father was one of the first Jews to be admitted to the freedom of the city of London. Two members of the family besides Abraham became...
's Drowned! Drowned!
and G.F. Watts's Found Drowned
. The poem was also illustrated in a bas-relief on Hood's tomb.
See also L. J. Nicoletti, Downward Mobility: Victorian Women, Suicide, and London's "Bridge of Sighs" http://www.literarylondon.org/london-journal/march2004/nicoletti.html