Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford: Ch. 3 Annotation – Mrs. Jamieson & The Scandinavian Prophetess – “Leave me to Repose”3

Gaskell Blog © Katherine C.

“On the whole, the visit was most satisfactory, and is a subject of conversation even now with Miss Matilda; at the time, it greatly excited Cranford, and even stirred up the apathetic and Honourable Mrs. Jamieson to some expression of interest, when I went to call and thank her for the kind answers she had vouchsafed to Miss Matilda’s inquiries as to the arrangement of a gentleman’s dressing-room — answers which I must confess she had given in the wearied manner of the Scandinavian prophetess, —’Leave me, leave me to repose.'”

‘Leave me, leave me to repose’ is from a poem based on Norse mythology. Odin sets off on his horse to awaken the prophetess who slumbers in hell. His son, Balder, has had terrible nightmares and he wants to know their meaning. She callously gives him short answers and tells him to leave her to her rest. Mrs. Jamieson is like prophetess in the sense that she is selfish.

Excerpt of The Descendant of Odin
by: Thomas Gray

Prophetess: What call unknown, what charms presume
To break the quit of the tomb?

Who thus afflicts my troubled sprite,
And drags me from the realms of night?
Long on these mould’ring bones have beat
The winter’s snow, the summer’s heat,

The drenching dews, and driving rain!
Let me, let me sleep again.
Who is he, with vice unblest,
That calls me from the bed of rest?

…Leave me, leave me to repose.

Read the Full Poem

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