The Woodman’s Daughter

Sir John Everett Millais’ painting The Woodman’s Daughter is based on a poem by Coventry Patmore.  When first exhibited in 1851, this excerpt of the poem accompanied the work: She went merely to think she help’d; And, whilst he hack’d and saw’d, The rich Squire’s son, a young boy then, Whole mornings, as if awed,…
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Goblin Market

“We must not look at goblin men, We must not buy their fruits:” Written in 1859 by  Christina Rossetti (sister to Dante Gabriel Rossetti), Goblin Market is a narrative poem of two sisters who encounter temptation. It is a complex poem–almost too complex to delve into for a blog post simply because it is hard…
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Halloween, Pre-Raphaelites, and Keats

I think Sir John Everett Millais’ painting Speak! Speak! is a perfect Pre-Raphaelite image to share on Halloween.   The ghost of a bride appears to her love.  He reaches out to her, urging her to speak. It’s a haunting image and the concept had been on the artist’s mind for forty years before he…
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The Diaries of William Allingham

If you’re interested in studying the Victorian era seriously, then diaries and letters are important.  At times I feel like a 21st-century snoop, devouring personal journals and private correspondence whenever I get the chance.  Through contemporary accounts, the past may not always come alive but it shines through the mist more clearly.  The diaries of…
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Lizzie Siddal: Love and Hate

Many people hear about Elizabeth Siddal through dramatic anecdotes of her life, such as the serious illness she suffered as a result of  posing in a bathtub for Sir John Everett Millais’ Ophelia (above). In 1860 she married artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti and died a mere two years later of a laudanum overdose.  The fact…
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Rebel’s Daydream: An Animated Short Film

A breathtaking animated video celebrating the beauty and poetry of Pre-Raphaelite art. Directed and produced by Anna-Ester Volozh. Honestly, I was touched by the delicacy of this work. Absolutely stunning.  Watch below. Rebel’s Daydream – Tribute to the Pre-Raphaelites from Dragonbee on Vimeo.

Then be not coy, but use your time

For the title of his 1909 painting Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May, John William Waterhouse used a line from the poem To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time by Robert Herrick (1597-1674) Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying; And this same flower that smiles today Tomorrow will be…
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The Eve of St. Agnes

Sir William Richmond, R.A. had this to say about Millais’ painting The Eve of St. Agnes and the innovative nature of Millais’ work:  “Millais’ literary sympathies were with Scott, Thackeray, and Dickens, and lastly, Louis Stevenson.  He loved anecdote and story as well as the literary embodiment of character; but I question if philosophical problem had much…
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The Unrequited Love of Mariana

Above is Sir John Everett Millais’ painting Mariana, which I’ve blogged about before in this post. Her dress is bluer than blue, the stained glass is exquisite, but let us have a moment of silence for the little mouse who died for Millais to include him in the work. When Millais first exhibited this painting…
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Love is a place

One of the benefits of an active reading life is that when you read not only for pleasure but for improvement, then similar themes in different authors’ works seem to just float to you. Unbidden. Like synergy. Today I read e.e.  cummings’ Love is a Place: love is a place & through this place of…
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Happy World Poetry Day

To celebrate World Poetry Day, I share one of my favorite poems by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Sudden Light  I have been here before,                 But when or how I cannot tell:          I know the grass beyond the door,                 The sweet keen smell, The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.            You have been…
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Ulalume

As I mentioned in Rossetti and the art of death, Edgar Allan Poe was a great influence on DGR’s work. The Raven is a prime example of Poe’s poetry influencing Rossetti’s.  It was a catalyst for The Blessed Damozel, where Rossetti reversed the conditions of The Raven in order to tell the story from the deceased lover’s…
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Love, Death and Potted Plants

William Holman Hunt’s Isabella and the Pot of Basil is currently in the news with the recent announcement that the Delaware Art museum will be auctioning the painting tomorrow.  The work has been in their collection since 1947 and it is sad news indeed that the Delaware has to sell it and three other works…
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Who is The Blessed Damozel?

The Poem:  Drawing inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s The Blessed Damozel explores the theme of lovers separated by death.  Like Poe’s Lenore, the damozel (an archaic form of damsel) has died and Rossetti introduces her to us as she looks down upon her lover from heaven.  Rossetti later told Hall…
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Alone and palely loitering: La Belle Dame sans Merci

La Belle Dame sans Merci translated from the French means “the beautiful lady without pity” or “the beautiful lady without mercy”.  It is possible that the poem is based on the ballad of ‘True Thomas’, also known as ‘Thomas the Rhymer’, which tells how a man was enchanted by the queen of Elfland and lured…
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Tennyson’s ‘Lady Clare’

“He does not love me for my birth, Nor for my lands so broad and fair; He loves me for my own true worth, And that is well,” said Lady Clare. Published in 1842, Lady Clare is a romantic ballad by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.  Exploring issues of class, marriage and honesty, Lady Clare is the…
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To live forgotten, and die forlorn

And on the liquid mirror glow’d The clear perfection of her face, ‘Is this the form,’ she made her moan, ‘That won his praises night and morn?’ –Alfred, Lord Tennyson Mariana in the South   Like the Lady of Shalott, Mariana lives a secluded existence. The subject of Mariana was visited twice by Tennyson, in…
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The Impossible Mirror of Lady Lilith

I’ve mentioned my love of mirror paintings before: Circe Offering the Cup to Odysseus, Viola, Photograph of Fanny Cornforth, Seeking out mirrors, and Preparing for the Ball. It’s understandable if we fail to notice the mirror in Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Lady Lilith (previous post about the painting here).  Our eyes are naturally drawn to Lilith,…
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MUSE: A new poetry collection by Dawn Marie Kresan

Elizabeth Siddal still continues to inspire. Dawn Marie Kresan explores multiple aspects of Siddal’s life and legacy in a newly-published poetry collection, Muse. I was unprepared for the depth of emotion Kresan’s work creates. Her expertly crafted poems touch upon Lizzie’s discovery and role as muse to the Pre-Raphaelites.  Several poems include moments of Lizzie’s…
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Oh Beautiful Moon

Did you see the moon this weekend? The full-bodied and absolutely perfect moon? It has inspired a moon themed blog post of the Pre-Raphaelite variety: A Match With The Moon WEARY already, weary miles to-night I walked for bed: and so, to get some ease, I dogged the flying moon with similes. And like a…
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Lamia

I just discovered that in January there was an adaptation of Keats’ Lamia on BBC Radio 4.  I’m sorry that I missed that.  Lamia is one of my favorite works, here are two passages I enjoy the most. (You can read the complete poem here) Lamia has vivid imagery: “She was a gordian shape of…
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