In Married and marred Lambert created a dramatic image which is a precursor to his darker and more symbolic paintings of 1910 and 1911, such as Chesham Street (cat.46) and The mask (Allegorical scene) 1911 (Hermitage, St Petersburg). In this drawing he created highly mannerist figures, with the man’s body considerably elongated. The arrangement of the arms and legs make the nude figures appear to move as if in a slow, ritualistic dance.
The drawing is an illustration to Edward Dyson’s poem, which describes a poet wandering in the dark. He is met by a sly fairy who lights his way with a dancing flame, and then suddenly vanishes, leaving the poet a prisoner in a strange land.
The world was dark, but kind and still.
One faint, thin star shone in the high
And sterile magnitude of sky.
With wayward will
I wandered far, and feared no ill.
But soon a dimpled, naked fay,
A laughing link-boy, slyly came,
And on before with dancing flame
He lit the way,
And led my listless feet astray,
Where no poor captive lives at ease,
And curses soft as maiden’s sighs,
Sighs fierce as curses, ever rise;
Yet no man flees.
For I am mad as all of these.
Here suddenly he quenched his brand,
And in the darkness fled from me,
And, flying, chuckled eerily.
And, lo, I stand
A prisoner in this strange land.
Edward Dyson (1865–1931) was a Melbourne journalist and writer, and elder brother to Will and Ambrose, both artists and writers. He produced many poems and contributed light-hearted short stories of bush life, the gold diggings and the Melbourne slums to the Bulletin , the Age and Melbourne Punch .