Friday, May 2, 2008

Rossetti Poem "Genius in Beauty"

While Dante Gabriel Rossetti is best known today for his contribution to Pre-Raphaelite art, in his own day he was celebrated for his poetry. In an interesting twist, his sister Christina Rossetti is now the better known poet in the family--something that would come as a bit of a surprise to both of them if they were alive today!

Dante Gabriel Rossetti's poetry was praised for its passion and drama and he was only 20 years old when his poem "The Blessed Damozel" won critical acclaim.

One of my favourite Rossetti poems is Genius in Beauty, which was published as part of his collection The House of Life in 1870. I suppose I'm comforted by the idea that some beauty cannot by marred by age! I think the poem refers to Jane--I have a hard time picturing Lizzie Siddal as having a "sovereign face" (my apologies, Lizzie lovers!).

Genius in Beauty

Beauty like hers is genius. Not the call
Of Homer's or of Dante's heart sublime, --
Not Michael's hand furrowing the zones of time, --
Is more with compassed mysteries musical;
Nay, not in Spring's Summer's sweet footfall
More gathered gifts exuberant Life bequeaths
Than doth this sovereign face, whose love-spell breathes
Even from its shadowed contour on the wall.

As many men are poets in their youth,
But for one sweet-strung soul the wires prolong
Even through all change the indomitable song;
So in likewise the envenomed years, whose tooth
Rends shallower grace with ruin void of truth,
Upon this beauty's power shall wreak no wrong.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

1 comment:

Tracy said...

I have always admired D.G. Rossetti's poems as much as his artwork! Your blog may help set in motion a D.G. Rossetti poetry revival...let us hope! Happy weekend ((HUGS))