Rossetti's poetry is marked by an extraordinary fastidiousness of expression and beauty of diction; the form and colour of his style are alike marvellous in clearness and loveliness of language. But the dominant characteristic, after all, is the underlying idea, the romantic motive. Rossetti's poetry is as full, as his pictures, of the true romantic feeling, the ever-present apprehension of the spiritual world and of that struggle of the soul with earthly conditions.
When do I see thee most, beloved one?
When in the light the spirits of mine eyes
Before thy face, their altar, solemnize
The worship of that Love through thee made known?
Or when in the dusk hours, (we two alone,)
Close-kissed and eloquent of still replies
Thy twilight-hidden glimmering visage lies,
And my soul only sees thy soul its own?
O love, my love! if I no more should see
Thyself, nor on the earth the shadow of thee,
Nor image of thine eyes in any spring,—
How then should sound upon Life's darkening slope
The ground-whirl of the perished leaves of Hope,
The wind of Death's imperishable wing?
- THE KISS
What smouldering senses in death's sick delay
Or seizure of malign vicissitude
Can rob this body of honour, or denude
This soul of wedding-raiment worn to-day?
For lo! even now my lady's lips did play
With these my lips such consonant interlude
As laurelled Orpheus longed for when he wooed
The half-drawn hungering face with that last lay.
I was a child beneath her touch,—a man
When breast to breast we clung, even I and she,—
A spirit when her spirit looked through me,—
A god when all our life-breath met to fan
Our life-blood, till love's emulous ardours ran,
Fire within fire, desire in deity.
- NUPTIAL SLEEP
At length their long kiss severed, with sweet smart:
And as the last slow sudden drops are shed
From sparkling eaves when all the storm has fled,
So singly flagged the pulses of each heart.
Their bosoms sundered, with the opening start
Of married flowers to either side outspread
From the knit stem; yet still their mouths, burnt red,
Fawned on each other where they lay apart.
Sleep sank them lower than the tide of dreams,
And their dreams watched them sink, and slid away.
Slowly their souls swam up again, through gleams
Of watered light and dull drowned waifs of day;
Till from some wonder of new woods and streams
He woke, and wondered more: for there she lay.
PART I. YOUTH AND CHANGE
PASSION AND WORSHIP
THE LOVERS’ WALK
A DAY OF LOVE
GENIUS IN BEAUTY
PRIDE OF YOUTH
THE DARK GLASS
THE LAMP’S SHRINE
THE MORROW’S MESSAGE
THROUGH DEATH TO LOVE
LOVE AND HOPE
CLOUD AND WIND
LOVE’S LAST GIFT
PART II. CHANGE AND FATE
THE SOUL’S SPHERE
ARDOUR AND MEMORY
KNOWN IN VAIN
HEART OF THE NIGHT
A DARK DAY
THE HILL SUMMIT
OLD AND NEW ART
FROM DAWN TO NOON
FAREWELL TO THE GLEN
THE TREES OF THE GARDEN
‘RETRO ME, SATHANA!’
LOST ON BOTH SIDES
THE SUN’S SHAME
THE VASE OF LIFE
LIFE THE BELOVED
HE AND I
THE ONE HOPE
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (12 May 1828 – 9 April 1882) was an English poet, illustrator, painter and translator. He founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, and was later to be the main inspiration for a second generation of artists and writers influenced by the movement, most notably William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. His work also influenced the European Symbolists and was a major precursor of the Aesthetic movement.
Rossetti's art was characterised by its sensuality and its medieval revivalism. His early poetry was influenced by John Keats. His later poetry was characterised by the complex interlinking of thought and feeling, especially in his sonnet sequence The House of Life. Poetry and image are closely entwined in Rossetti's work; he frequently wrote sonnets to accompany his pictures, spanning from The Girlhood of Mary Virgin (1849) and Astarte Syriaca (1877), while also creating art to illustrate poems such as Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti, his sister and celebrated poet.