The four paintings of The Briar Rose series created by Sir Edward Burne-Jones were inspired by the beloved fairy tale of the Sleeping Beauty, and focus on one pivotal scene in the story – where the prince battles the obstacles of the enchanted garden to finally gaze upon the face of the slumbering princess. His good friend William Morris created 4 verses of prose to be read in conjunction with each painting, adding a new dimension to the entire experience. Deliberately omitting the final scene where the princess awakes, leaves us with a lingering sense of anticipation — but we can certainly fill in the blanks as intended.
The fateful slumber floats and flows
About the tangle of the rose.
But lo the fated hand and heart
To rend the slumberous curse apart
The threat of war, the hope of peace
The Kingdom’s peril and increase.
Sleep on, and bide the latter day
When fate shall take her chains away
The maiden pleasance of the land
Knoweth no stir of voice or hand,
No cup the sleeping waters fill,
The restless shuttle lieth still
Here lies the hoarded love the key
To all the treasure that shall be.
Come, fated hand, the gift to take
And smite the sleeping world awake