The Young Harlot

The Young Harlot

A Story by Ann Elise Monte
"

Based on the themes in William Blake's poetry

"

Experience cannot be bought with a song and wisdom cannot be bought with a dance. Yet, if these must be bought with all one has, what if song and dance are all I have?

 

I have no home; I have no family. I perform for money with songs and dances of my own creation, songs of withered fields and corn-laden wagons, my body moving of its own accord in time to my music. The people who pass by pay more for songs of happiness, of innocence, than they do for songs of the dead, the destitute, the slaughtered lambs. They do not want to hear about suffering, as if pretending it does not exist makes it so. They are fools.

 

Suffering exists everywhere, in the satanic mills, the soot-coated chimneys, the dark corners of London. I see the danger in the hungry eyes of men watching me dance, the danger of a different kind of suffering, one that finds no place in my songs. I am not prepared to share that particular brand of experience.

 

Fear. It accompanies my music as one of my few possessions. Perhaps I do have more to offer... or perhaps what I once had to offer has already been taken from me, in the forms of dead parents and sisters, a home ablaze, my own body held face-down on the grit-encrusted workhouse floors.

 

My audience is watching me expectantly; I have stopped dancing. A mother drags her child away, but not before the small boy tosses a handful of coins onto my discarded scarf. I smile at him and the mother pulls with greater urgency. I cannot blame her. To the safe, the healthy, I am womanly danger personified. My skirt is inappropriately short, exposing my ankles, and torn on one side, revealing a knee and slice of thigh. My corset reveals my pale arms and the top half of my squashed breasts. My lips are a vivid red, as if comprised of blood rather than skin, and my dark eyes have long died. I understand why men watch me. I am beautiful, yet just broken enough to follow a man to bed for the promise of food or money... or love, no matter how insubstantial or brief.

 

The mother and son are gone. I twirl in place, raising my arms, and construct new words and a melody. If I cannot collect enough coins, I may need to steal food and risk hanging, unless I lure a man instead.

 

So I dance and sing, resigned to this life. My gaze wanders through my male crowd. I find my victim " tall, blue-eyed. Young. Clutching a bowler hat as if his life depended on its destruction. He will do.

 

Experience cannot be bought with a song. Wisdom cannot be bought with a dance. I have already amassed enough experience by giving up all I own. Wisdom is not mine; perhaps it never will be. I am nothing but a fallen woman, after all, using song, dance and my body, my experience, to survive. Not live. Survive.


© 2011 Ann Elise Monte



Author's Note

Ann Elise Monte
This isn't my usual style. This piece of writing came about while practising responding creatively to a text to prepare for an upcoming assignment. I manipulated some of Blake's themes (such as experience must be bought with all a man... or woman... has) and turns of phrase (such as "satanic mills") to add layers of meaning to this short piece. I also attempted to add some minor details about Victorian London such as bowler hats indicating a man of middle class and the plight of "fallen women" who turned to prostitution in order to eke out an existence. I hope this has been reasonably successful.
(artwork by xSorchax on DeviantArt: http://xsorchax.deviantart.com/art/Twilight-201528561?q=gallery%3Axsorchax%2F18264577&qo=19)

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register




Featured Review

I am reading the works submitted in the 'Impress Me" contest and, lo and behold, two of them are yours.

I think this is well written. I feel sad for the young harlot. She has no future really. Once she grows old and her beauty fades, what will she do then?

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

I am reading the works submitted in the 'Impress Me" contest and, lo and behold, two of them are yours.

I think this is well written. I feel sad for the young harlot. She has no future really. Once she grows old and her beauty fades, what will she do then?

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wow, this was a fine write indeed, I believe this is the first I have read from you, but surely will not be the last, not with the quality of what I have witness here!

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

You've done a fantastic job with this piece. It gripped me. I was overwhelmed by the amount of sumissions to the contest, but I was overwhelmingly pleased with those that won. Thank you! An impressive write.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I like this. Well done. I like your descriptive style.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I like this a lot, especially the last and first paragraphs. I really like the inclusion of the poetry in it as well. You capture this woman's story well, giving us a complete picture in a few words. It's very matter-of-fact in some ways, but still carries and underlying emotion that plays out to the reader. You really bring that point home in the line 'my dark eyes have long died, giving us the sense of a woman who has seen so much suffering, enduring much herself, that she is unfazed by it. Great work. :)

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Very experimental style that seems you followed the idea and stuck to it. After it took me a little while to reread the first part and take it in, I got the style and depth and the rest was fine to read. I would say you were generally sucessful.

I found this piece very interesting as it's different and triggers the imagination, rather than description it is narrative and depth (which naturally is more noted as in poetry), meaning your attempted style, once again, seems to have worked.

Peices like this also help to hone your writing style for other works as it allows you to play around with different ideas and I think there is a lot of things you could take to play around with in this piece.

As a result of it being your experimental style based on your idea - there is little I can suggest for improvement. It is simple, and it does it's job. Obviously, it's never going to be the most emotional, descriptive or imaginitive piece - but it's not trying to be, which is possibly why I seem to really like it :)

Thanks for sharing!

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

982 Views
7 Reviews
Rating
Shelved in 2 Libraries
Added on August 17, 2011
Last Updated on August 17, 2011
Tags: William Blake, harlot, Victorian era, prositution, whore, music, dance, song, experience

Author

Ann Elise Monte
Ann Elise Monte

Fantasyland, beside a mass grave of dead story ideas, Australia



About
I write Young Adult fiction and my longer works tend to contain strong fantasy and romantic elements. My shorter works have more variety because I find it easier to maintain non-magical stories for sh.. more..

Writing