August 19, 2009

A Poem for the Day - "An Echo From Willowwood"

An Echo From Willowwood

"O ye, all ye that walk in Willowwood." D.G. Rosetti

Two gazed into a pool, he gazed and she,
Not hand in hand, yet heart in heart, I think,
Pale and reluctant on the water's brink
As on the brink of parting which must be.
Each eyed the other's aspect, she and he,
Each felt one hungering heart leap up and sink,
Each tasted bitterness which both must drink,
There on the brink of life's dividing sea.
Lilies upon the surface, deep below
Two wistful faces craving each for each,
Resolute and reluctant without speech: —
A sudden ripple made the faces flow
One moment joined, to vanish out of reach:
So those hearts joined, and ah! were parted so.

Christina Rossetti, mid- to late-1860s?


It is interesting to note that this poem plays off of the 'Willowwood' sonnets written by Christina's older brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Dante wrote his sonnets about his wife, Lizzie Siddal, who died in 1862 due to laudanum addiction. So the story goes, Lizzie had left sketches of herself and Dante looking into pools of water together; these sketches then inspired the poetry of both Rossetti siblings. Finally, Lizzie Siddal also served as the model for Sir John Everett Millais's famous Pre-Raphaelite painting "Ophelia."

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