Ophelia Wears Black was released in late 2015 by Segovia Amil. I was drawn to this poetry collection as soon as I saw it. It is described online as a journey to understand the perfection and necessity of inner darkness, which I found incredibly appealing. I seldom buy poetry collections but I am very glad that I purchased this one.
Ophelia Wears Black is split into four sections: ‘The First Blush’, ‘On Solitude & Abandon’, ‘Burials’ and ‘Blood of the Seed’. The latter two sections are my favourite, but I enjoyed poems from all of the sections immensely. I think I preferred the latter half of the book as it delves a little more into the role of death within life and the profound beauty within death and darkness, whilst the first half features more ‘coming of age’ poems and focuses more on adolescence. My favourite poems in the collection are ‘Winteress,’ ‘With My Dead’ and ‘February’, as I feel that these poems speak to me personally the most. The book also offers an introduction to the poems, which is an insightful read on the background and inspiration behind these poems.
The book also includes photographs, which are used to complement the poetry and helps to develop the atmosphere and tone of the collection. The photographs are dark and ethereal, and complement the poetry perfectly. I would have loved the photographs even without the accompanying poetry. Ophelia Wears Black finds the ideal balance between words and visuals.
The poetry within explores several binary oppositions. Darkness is contrasted with light, heat with frost and detachment with immersion. Even the poetry itself is simultaneously simplistic and complex; it delves into themes of gravitas whilst remaining accessible and personal to the reader. There’s something about this book that makes you feel like you are the only person in the world. However, despite exploring these themes of detachment, there is a surprising level of intimacy in this collection. I haven’t quite been feeling myself recently and I have found a great deal of comfort inside Ophelia Wears Black.
I cannot think of single thing that I do not like about this book. The poetry is sensational, dark and cathartic and the photographs complement the poetry beautifully. They find the balance between mystery, intrigue and beauty without detracting from the poetry. The tone and style of the poetry is also continuous throughout. It’s almost impossible to consider these poems as separate entities; they are brush strokes on a painting that sets the atmosphere and tone of this book. It is eloquent, elegant and remarkably heartfelt. You become seamlessly immersed in her world from the second you open the cover; I found myself completely absorbed from the second I turned the first page to the second I finished it. I always reach for this whenever I feel like I need some time alone with my thoughts. There’s something remarkably therapeutic and cathartic about reading this. It reminds me that it is completely acceptable to make peace with my own inner darkness. It clarifies the nature of darkness itself, blurring the boundary between the joy of life and the inevitable pull towards death. It is dark but empowering. It’s perfect to curl up with after a stressful day. I lose myself within its pages almost instantly.
I adore this book. I think I will be reaching for this for many years to come. I do wish that it was available in hardback, as I am almost certainly going to wear out this copy. I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes my favourite literary purchase of the year as it truly is a captivating read.
You can purchase Ophelia Wears Black for £16.53 from the Book Depository.