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The medievalism of Dante Gabriel Rossetti Rowe, Alice Cidna 1935

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THE' MEDIEVALISM OF DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI by A l i c e Cidna Rows A Thesis submitted to the Department of English for the degree of Master of Arts. 7 &o&l<~ 'tjj-The Unfirersity of B r i t i s h Columbia October - 1935. INDEX CHAPTER I , Introduction fleaa«©«©e» Page 1 CHAPTER II. Early Tendencies toward Medievalism Page 5 CHAPTER III, Obvious Evidences of Rossetti's Medievalism o 9 © e o a 8 Page 15 CHAPTER IT. The Influence of Dante and his C llfG X 0 o * • Page 38 CHAPTER Y. CHAPTER TI, Treatment of Chivalry c e o e © Page 84 The Influence of Roman Catholicism . Page 108 CHAPTER TH. Medievalism in Rossetti's Paintings page 141 CHAPTER T i l l . Conclusion . . . . £ $ 8 . . . Page 160 Bibliography Page I CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION "Thou knew 1st that island far away and lone .Whose shores are as a harp, where billows break In spray of musio and the breezes shake O'er spicy seas a woof of colour and tone, While that sweet music echoes l i k e a moan In the island's heart, and sighs around the.lake Where, watching f e a r f u l l y a watchful snake, A Damsel weeps upon her emerald throne. L i f e ' s ocean, breaking round thy senses shore. Struck golden song as from the strand of day: For us the joy, for thee the f e l l foe l a y ; — pain's blinking snake around the f a i r i s l e ' s core Turning to sighs the enchanted sounds that 'play Around thy lovely island evermore." This sonnet was written by Mr. Theodore Watts for Rossetti shortly before the l a t t e r ' s death, but addressed, f o r the sake of disguise, to Heine. It describes with extra-ordinary charm the regions o f romance to which we are trans-ported by the magic of Rossetti*s a r t . Not for him the s o c i a l and i n d u s t r i a l struggles, the p o l i t i c a l controversies, or the s c i e n t i f i c arguments which occupied the attention of so many men of the V i c t o r i a n era. What mattered i t i f Gladstone passed mild reform b i l l s , i f Queen V i c t o r i a objected to the entry of women into the medical profession, or i f man were proved to be descended from an ape? His brain was haunted with dreams of beauty,--visions of slender damsels, gallant knights, and radiant angels,--which he must capture on paper or canvas before they escaped him forever. So, absorbed i n h i s painting and his poetry, he was content to forget the great c i t y and indeed the whole world outside his own gates* P o l i t i c i a n s , reformers, and s c i e n t i s t s meant nothing to him. He must catch the l a s t rays of the setting sun as they poured i n through h i s studio window, chang-ing the golden t i n t s on his canvas to a blood red. He turned again to the flaming sky, spellbound by the glory that met h i s gaze. And then, as he looked, slowly a face seemed to form i t s e l f against the g l a s s — a white, upturned face framed i n the halo of i t s coppery-golden h a i r . L i z z i e , of course, watching him at work as she so often d i d at the end of the day. So natural was i t to see her there that for a f u l l moment the truth did not come to him. L i z z i e . But L i z z i e was dead. It was a f u l l year sinoe he had come home to find that loved face l i f e l e s s on the.pillow with the empty bottle of laudanum nearby. L i z z i e ! And he stood staring, awe-struck, a f r a i d even to move. Then as he looked i t seemed to him that i t was no longer L i z z i e seated before a window i n London which he saw, but Dante's Beatrice, on a balcony overlooking a street i n Florence. L i z z i e - - B e a t r i c e . Were they the same? And i f so, who was he who bore the name of Dante? Overpowered by h i s thoughts, he closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them again there was only the sunlight streaming into the room. But she had been there. He had' seen his L i z z i e just as she had looked i n l i f e ; and whether i t had been merely a t r i c k of his imagination or whether her s p i r i t had t r u l y taken back i t s human form for a few b r i e f moments, he could not t e l l - -"There are more things i n heaven and earth, Horatio ."—The dead Beatrice, the dead L i z z i e , his love for her, and t h e i r "dead deathless hours" spent t o g e t h e r — a l l were so inextricably mingled i n h i s mind that the past and the present, the l i v i n g and the dead seemed a l l one to him. But something he could do to oommemorate the strangely sweet experience. He painted L i z z i e ' s face as he had seen i t that afternoon, with l i p s h a l f parted and heavy eyelids covering the t i r e d eyes. He added a dove bringing to her quiet hands the scarlet poppy of eternal sleep, and, i n the background, l i t t l e figures of Love and Dante watching sadly. It was c a l l e d Beata Beatrix. In suoh visions of love and beauty were centered a l l Rossetti*s i n t e r e s t s . To him the present was merely a place for l i v i n g , not f o r dreaming. But the Middle Ages with t h e i r mystic f a i t h , their recognition of the lordship of love, and their g a l l a n t knights and lovely l a d i e s , were as a magic land of f a e r i e . To the Middle Ages belonged h i s beloved Dante and "that Paradisal Love of h i s " which g l o r i f i e d Beatrice into a creature almost d i v i n e . And there too were found the impress-ive r i t u a l and the quaint legends of a medieval Church which, with i t s insistence on the dualism of l i f e , the complete fusion of the physical and the s p i r i t u a l , appealed to him f a r more strongly than the conventional Protestantism of his own day. As f o r the u t t e r l y s e l f i s h materialism of the "Victorian Middle Glass, (obsessed, as Matthew Arnold remarked, by two f e a r s — t h e fear of bankruptcy and the fear of eternal damnation) he had for i t neither sympathy nor understanding. He sought not wealth but beauty; and to him i t was to be found i n i t s highest form i n the romance and mysticism of the Middle Ages. His work, therefore, constantly harks back to Medieval times. Settings, characters, imagery, t h o u g h t , — a l l belong much more t r u l y to the days of Chivalry than to the V i c t o r i a n era. I t i s t h i s f e e l i n g of a n t i q u i t y i n his work which i s termed "medievalism". In the following pages I s h a l l endeavour to show the sources of t h i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c and to demonstrate how completely i t permeated a l l h i s work* -5-CHAPTER II EARLY TENDENCIES TOWARD MEDIEVALISM "Large oaks from l i t t l e acorns grow", says the old proverb; and the medievalism of Rossetti, though apparently strangely incongruous i n V i c t o r i a n England, r e a l l y developed as n a t u r a l l y as does the great tree from the t i n y seed. In t h i s case, i t seems tome, Rossetti's childhood surroundings and es p e c i a l l y h i s reading were responsible for the medieval trend of h i s mind. The son of an I t a l i a n p a t r i o t and e x i l e , Gabriele Pasquale Giuseppe Rossetti, and Prances Mary Lavinia Rossetti, nee P o l i d o r i , who was also h a l f I t a l i a n , he was born on IS May, 1888, at No. 38 Charlotte Street, Portland Place, London. His father was a professor of I t a l i a n at Zing's College and an ardent student of Dante; hi s mother, i n the words of William Michael R o s s e t t i , 1 , was "well bred and well educated, a constant reader, f u l l of clear perception and sound sense on a variety of subjects, and p e r f e c t l y q u a l i f i e d to hold her own i n any society." The boy's surroundings, then, were d i s t i n c t l y such as to encourage l i t e r a r y g i f t s . From h i s parents, e s p e c i a l l y his mother, Dante Gabriel, his brother, William Michael, and h i s two s i s t e r s , Lucy and Christina, received a l l their e arly eduoation. I t a l i a n they learned as e a s i l y as English, f o r i t was spoken 1. Rossetti, W.M., Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, ( E l l i s and Elvey, London, 1895) v o l . I, p. 21. constantly i n the home. The rudiments of C h r i s t i a n knowledge they received from their mother who was a deeply r e l i g i o u s woman. And under her guidance l i t t l e Dante Gab r i e l began the reading which influenced h i s mind so profoundly i n l a t e r years. His e a r l i e s t favourite, according to h i s brother, was Hamlet; that i s , c e r t a i n scenes from the play which were printed along with an outline of the story. This was when he was four or f i v e years of age. Soon other Shakespearian plays followed of which the best loved were, perhaps, the t r i l o g y of Henry VI, The Tempest, Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Henry IV, Richard I I I , Romeo and J u l i e t , and Macbeth. At about the same time he read and greatly admired Gothe's Faust, a t r a n s l a t i o n of S o h i l l e r ' s F r i d o l i n , (which, William Michael remarks, they thought "feeble s t u f f " ) and the Dragon  of Rhodes. Surely t h i s was no bad beginning for a future poet; and i t i s interesting to observe that the medieval i n t e r e s t was already present. It was farther developed i n the next "immense f a v o u r i t e " — t h e poems and novels of S i r Walter Scott. A rel a t i v e gave the boy a pocket e d i t i o n of Marmion and, to quote his brother again, "he ramped through i t , and recited whole pages at a stretch". Then came the Lay of the Last Minstrel, Lady of the Lake, Lord of the Is l e s , and Rokebey, a l l of which were beloved only l e s s than Marmion. At the same time he was devouring the Arabian Nights; and soon a f t e r , the waverly Hovels—Ivanhoe, Kennilworth, Quentin Durwgcd and the others. As i f these were not enough to develop h i s taste f o r romance and- adventure i n the fascinating Middle Ages, he was enjoying along with them such a l l u r i n g hooks as Keightley's Fa i r y  Mythology, Monk Lewis' v e r s e - c o l l e c t i o n Tales of Wonder, and the old ba l l a d Chevy Phase. Small wonder that h i s poetry i s so f i l l e d with medieval t a l e s of magic and supernatural events. Perhaps to counteract t h i s sort of reading, he also became familiar with books of another sort--Garleton's T r a i t s  and Stories of the I r i s h Peasantry, Robinson Crusoe, G u l l i v e r ' s  Travels, Gay's Fables, Pascal Bruno (translated from Dumas), and a short poem by Fitzgreene Halleck, Marco Bozaris, concern-ing an incident i n the Greek war of independence. Burns 1 poems he did not enjoy because of the d i a l e c t ; Lamb's Tales he "skimmed and slighted". But there was John G i l p i n , and, of the usual l i t e r a t u r e of childhood, nursery rhymes, The Peacock at Home, and a l l the old f a i r y t a l e s . His mother kept the children supplied with the regulation stories of good l i t t l e boys and g i r l s who were rewarded and naughty ones who were punished— which t a l e s William Michael records that they enjoyed about as much as most children do. Also they read some of Miss Edge-worth's st o r i e s for children, Day's Sandford and Merton, Mrs. Sherwood's The F a i r c h i l d Family, The Son of a Genius by Mrs. Holland, and an i l l u s t r a t e d edition of Stories from English  History. In the e a r l y days, i t i s to he noted, Dante was read not at a l l . He was one of the " l i h r i m i s t i c i " which the children's father studied. Although constantly referred to and spoken of he could not, they believed, be read and enjoyed as were Shakespeare and Scott. It was not u n t i l Dante Gabriel was considerably older that he discovered f o r himself the beauties of h i s great namesake. As he relates i n the Preface to Dante  and h i s C i r c l e 1 * ; "The f i r s t associations I have are connected with ray father's devoted studies, which, from h i s own point of view, have done so much towards the general investigation of Dante's writings. Thus, in those early days, a l l around me partook of the influence of the great Florentine; t i l l , from viewing i t as a natural element, I a l s o , growing older, was 2 drawn within the c i r c l e . " And i n the words of William Michael "Dante A l i g h i e r i was a sort of banshee i n the Charlotte Street houses; his shriek audible even to f a m i l i a r i t y , but the message thereof not s c r u t i n i z e d . " With t h i s important exception, how-ever, i t i s clear that Dante Gabriel's fondness f o r things medieval was already receiving d e f i n i t e development from the bulk of h i s early reading. In 1836 Rossetti f i r s t went to school. But although he doubtless developed nev; i n t e r e s t s through h i s associates . there, his love for books did not diminish. A l l through h i s 1. Rossetti, D.G., Collected Works, ( E l l i s and Elvey, London, 1890) v o l . II, p. XT. 2. Rossetti, W.M., op. c i t . , v o l . I, p. 64. boyhoocL years h i s taste continued to develop i n the d i r e c t i o n i t had already taken. The great favourite a f t e r Scott was, we are t o l d , Byron with his marvelous tales of romance. The  Seige of Corinth came f i r s t , then Mazeppa, Manfred, The Corsair, and others. ChiIde Harold, with i t s long desoriptive and r e f l e c t i v e passages, did not p a r t i c u l a r l y appeal to him. At about the same time he was enjoying the Iliad,,though l a t e r the Odessey was his favourite. Nor were contemporary authors neglected. Dickens' Nicholas Niokleby which appeared i n 1838-9 was greatly appreciated; i t was followed by Oliver Twist, The  Old C u r i o s i t y Shop, Barnaby Rudge, and the r e s t . Then there was a fascinating s e r i a l named Chivalry and another c a l l e d Legends  of Terror; likewise The Seven Champions of Christendom f i l l e d with the marvels of pseudo-chivalry. Home *s Every-day Book and th© Newgate Calendar were also very p o p u l a r — e s p e c i a l l y the l a t t e r with i t s accounts of murderers and other interesting criminals. Of well-known novels there were Bulwer's Rienzi and Last Days of Pompeii; and of minor romances, three s e r i a l s , Robin Hood and Wat Tyler, both by Pierce Egan the younger, and Ada the Betrayed or Murder at the Smithy by some author whose name was not revealed. G i l Bias and Don Quixote were read but not p a r t i c u l a r l y admired. But i n his early school days perhaps his greatest favourite was a series e n t i t l e d Brigand Tales, with coloured i l l u s t r a t i o n s . These were followed by Dramatic  Tales, also highly appreciated. -10* These hooks, his brother t e l l s us, p r a c t i c a l l y constituted his residing up to the time he l e f t school at the age of fourteen. We notice that they are p r a c t i c a l l y a l l English; i n I t a l i a n he had read l i t t l e beyond Ariosto; i n French perhaps Hugo's Notre Dame de P a r i s . At any rate, soon after, he became very fond of Hugo's prose and verse. l i k e -wise we may observe that there was p r a c t i c a l l y no " s o l i d " reading. Good poetry, however, there was i n plenty, and a wide selection of the medieval and c h i v a l r i c t a l e s which l e f t t h e i r imprint so c l e a r l y upon h i s work. Nor were the years of his l i f e as a student, f i r s t at Gary's Art Academy, l a t e r at the Royal Academy, devoid of development for the same i n t e r e s t . During h i s Byronio period he became acquainted with the poems of Shelley. His brother t e l l s us t h a t 1 , "He bought a small pirated Shelley and surged through i t s pages l i k e a flame," Keats followed; also old B r i t i s h Ballads, Mrs. Browning, Alfred de Musset, Dumas, Tennyson, Edgar Poe, Coleridge, Blake, S i r Henry Taylor's P h i l l i p Van Artevelde, and Thomas Hood. Dr. Hake's romance Yates, Hoffmann's Pontes Fantastiques i n French, i n English, Ghamisso's Peter Sohlemihel and Lamotte-Fouque's Undine and other stories supplied the Teutonic element i n legend and romance. About 1846 he became acquainted with the prose Stories a f t e r Nature of Charles Wells and h i s drama Joseph 1. Rossetti, W.M., op. c i t . v o l . I, p. 100. and h i s Brethren, both of which he admired enormously. E a r l i e r than most of these the gloomy horrors of Melmoth the  Wanderer by the I r i s h writer Manturin held him spellbound; and i n the same tone were h i s Montorio, Women, The Wild I r i s h Boy, The Albigenses, and the drama Bertram. Although i n a d i f f e r e n t s t r a i n from his other reading and lacking the medieval interest Sterne 8 s Tristram Shandy and Richard Savage by Charles White-head were also immensely enjoyed. At t h i s time, too, Thackery began to succeed Dickens i n interest (though afterwards the Tale of Two C i t i e s attracted Rossetti g r e a t l y ) ; he.had read the early t a l e s such as Fitzboodle 1 s Confessions, Barry Lyndon, and The P a r i s Sketchbook before Vanity F a i r appeared i n 1846. Later a novel of Lady Malet, V i o l e t or the Danseuse was a favourite, and a t r a n s l a t i o n of Meinhold 1s Sidonia the  Sorceress which was preferred to the Amber Witch by the same author. At length everything took a secondary place to Browning whose poems he read with t i r e l e s s i n t e r e s t , finding i n them not only the romance and medievalism which ha so loved, but also passion, perception of character, a r t , and i n t e r e s t , 1. His brother t e l l s us that "Allowing for a labarynthine passage here and there, Rossetti never seemed to f i n d t h i s poet d i f f i c u l t to understand; he discovered i n him plenty of sonorous rhythmical e f f e c t s , and revell e d i n what, to some other readers, was mere crabbedness." Three years before t h i s he had come under the influence of Dante, for whose poetry h i s 1. Rossetti, W.M., op. c i t . , v o l . I, p. 102. -12-love steadily increased. And about 1845 he began his trans-lations of the ear l y I t a l i a n poets. With Rossetti's reading during h i s years as an art student we may reasonably conclude an account of books which must have had a formative influence upon his mind and there-fore upon h i s work. That the medieval q u a l i t y of his writing was c l e a r l y inspired by his l i t e r a r y background i s proved by the acoount, as given by h i s brother, of some of his e a r l i e s t compositions. His f i r s t "poem", William Rossetti t e l l s us, was written when the boy was fi v e or s i x years of age. At that time, as we have said, he had been reading Shakespeare; and so he wrote a "drama" e n t i t l e d The Slave i n three scenes and two acts. The characters were "Don Manuel, a Spanish l o r d ; Traitor, an o f f i c e r ; Slave, a Servant to T r a i t o r ; Mortimer, an English knight; Guards, Messengers, etc." 1 "No p l o t i s apparent", remarks William Rossetti, "only constant objur-gation and f i g h t i n g . " 2 But the blank verse i n which i t i s written i s correct and has a fa i n t echo of some of Shakespeare's l i n e s : "Ho, i f thou be a l i v e , come out and f i g h t me5" L'Down, slave, I dare thee on. Coward thou d i e s t . " "But yet I w i l l not l i v e to see thee thus -"5. Just as he f i r s t echoed Shakespeare h i s e a r l i e s t love, he next found In s p i r a t i o n i n the medieval tales of Scott, 1. Rossetti, W.M., op, c i t . , Vol. I, p. 65. 2. Ibid, p, 66. 5* Ibid, p. 65. -13-In 1840 he wrote a prose tale e n t i t l e d Roderick and R o s a b e l l a — a Story of the Round T a b l e — a n account of a lady captured by a wicked "Marauder" and f i n a l l y rescued by her own knight. His f i r s t printed poem, S i r Hugh the Heron, was apparently began and almost completed not much l a t e r than the t a l e — about 1841, It was fini s h e d i n 1843 at the urgency of h i s grandfather P o l i d o r i who promised that i t should be printed on his private p r i n t i n g press. So i t was concluded and made i t s formal appearance marked on the t i t l e page " f o r private c i r c u l a t i o n only". Rossetti l a t e r destroyed a l l the remaining copies available and l e f t behind him a memorandum to the effect that the poem was only a c h i l d i s h effusion and not to b© included among his printed works. But as i t too t e l l s a tale of medieval romance i t i s in t e r e s t i n g as showing how strongly his mind, was influenced i n t h i s one d i r e c t i o n . The only other composition to be noticed i s another poem, William and Mary, written when the boy was f i f t e e n . " I t s s t y l e " , says h i s brother, " i s compounded of Walter Scott and the old Scot t i s h ballads; i t may also present some trace of Burger's Lenore." 1 ' At any rate we are again i n the Middle Ages where a wicked knight slays a good one, hurls the good one's lady-love into a moat, and i s k i l l e d by an avenging bolt of l i g htning. Once more, we see, the medieval i n t e r e s t . Having attempted to discover from what sources and 1„ Rossetti, W.H., op. c i t , , v o l * I, p. 85. -14 by what influences Rossetti acquired his medievalism, we may now turn to the poems themselves i n an e f f o r t to f i n d i n what respects t h i s love of the romance and mystery of long ago manifested i t s e l f , and how, i n his own inimitable way, he unbars those "Charm"d magic casements, opening on „ . the foam Of perilous seas i n faery lands f o r l o r n . " -15-CHAPTER H I • OBVIOUS EVIDENCES OF ROSSETTI * S MEDIEVALISM: What I have termed Rossetti's Medievalism f i r s t makes i t s e l f evident to the reader i n c e r t a i n very obvious, one might almost say s u p e r f i c i a l , aspects, such as old verse forms and the use of archaic words and quaint figures of speech. It i s only a f t e r a while that we discover such things to be merely the outward signs of the poet's entire mental outlook. His whole mind was permeated with the dreams and ideas of a bygone age, and i t i s i n this abstraction and mysticism that h i s true medievalism l i e s . But since the out-ward evidences f i r s t occupy one's attention we s h a l l consider them now and discuss the deeper, truer medievalism at greater length l a t e r . We notice at once that Rossetti employs verse forms which l i n k him to the poets of the Middle Ages—the sonnet, the b a l l a d , the met r i c a l romance. In order to show c l e a r l y that they dp so l i n k him, I s h a l l b r i e f l y trace the develop-ment of each of these forms and then discuss our poet's use of i t . He i s , of course, outstanding for h i s many exquisite sonnets, es p e c i a l l y those of the House of Li f e sequence. And the sonnet i s d i s t i n c t l y a medieval form. I t was used f i r s t i n I t a l y as early as the middle of the thirteenth century. Dante's contemporaries and his immediate predecessors, such as Guido G u i n i c e l l i of Bologna, Jacopo da lentino, and Rustico -16-d i F i l l i p o , employed i t frequently. The I t a l i a n sonnet consists of two parts* an octet formed by a two rhyme double quatrain with closed rhyme scheme—-that i s , a b b a a b b a ; and a sestet with either two or three rhymes, as c d c d c d, c d d c e d, c d e c d e, or c d e e d o. The true I t a l i a n form never closes with a couplet. A sonnet by Dante's fri e n d , Guido Cavaloanti, and translated by Rossetti w i l l serve as an i l l u s t r a t i o n : Sonnet He i n t e r p r e t s Dante's Dream, related i n the f i r s t sonnet of the V i t a Muova0, "Unto my thinking, thou beheld'st a l l worth, , A l l joy, as much of good as man may know, If thou wert i n h i s power who here below Is honour's righteous lord throughout t h i s earth. Where e v i l dies, even there he has h i s b i r t h , :•'Whose • j u s t i c e out of p i t y ' s s e l f doth grow. S o f t l y to sleeping persons he w i l l go, And, with no pain to them, their.hearts draw f o r t h . Thy heart he took, as knowing w e l l , alas. That Death had claimed thy lady f o r a prey: In fear whereof he fed her with thy heart. But when he seemed i n sorrow to depart, Sweet was thy dream; for by that sign, I say, Surely the opposite s h a l l come to pass." This sonnet, i t w i l l be noticed, has the two d i s t i n c t parts and the required rhyme soheme, -the octet being a b b a a b b a and the sestet, o d e e d c. It was t h i s form of the sonnet which S i r Thomas Wyat brought to England about the Middle of the sixteenth Century. But both he and his fellow worker, the E a r l of Surrey, quickly realized that to follow the rules of the sonnet i n every p a r t i c u l a r was a d i f f i c u l t task i n the English language. Both, therefore, introduced such i r r e g u l a r i t i e s as a f i n a l rhymed couplet i n the sestet. The lesser sonnet writers who followed them a l l did the same; and even S i r P h i l l i p Sidney, much of whose reputation depends on his work as a sonnet writer, did not use the pure I t a l i a n form. His rhyme scheme for the Astrophel and S t e l l a sonnets i s , for the octet, a b b a a b b a and for the sestet, c d c d e e o r c c d e e d ; which i s an I t a l i a n octet with either a regular Shakespearian or an irregular I t a l i a n sestet. Michael Drayton, whose sonnets may almost rank with those of Shakespeare himself, used c h i e f l y what has since become known as the Shakespearian sonnet. I t consists of three a l t e r n a t e l y rhyming quatrains and a couplet, thus: a b a b c d c d e f e f g g . "Since there's no help, come, let us k i s s and part; ; Nay, I have done: You get no more of me; And I am glad, yea glad with a l l my heart, That thus so cleanly I myself can free. Shake hands f o r ever, cancel a l l our vows, And when we meet at any time again, . Be i t not seen i n either of our brows, That we one jot of former love r e t a i n . Now at the l a s t gasp of love's l a t e s t breath, When, his pulse f a i l i n g , Passion speechless l i e s , When F a i t h i s kneeling by h i s bed of Death, And Innocence i s closing up h i s eyes, Now i f thou woulds't, when a l l have given him over, From Death to; l i f e , thou might' st him yet recover." Then came Edmund Spencer with h i s b e a u t i f u l sequence of eighty-eight sonnets. He too used the Shakespearian form but made a v a r i a t i o n i n the octet, using only three rhymes, thus: a b a b b c b c . The sestet was regular. But i t was -18-Shakespaare who f i n a l l y established the sonnet which now bears his name. Discussion may s t i l l rage over the I t a l i a n form, but since h i s Sonnets there i s only one form of the Shakespearian sonnet: a b a b o d c d e f e f g g , "Let me not to the marriage of true minds .Admit impediments. Love i s not love Which a l t e r s when i t a l t e r a t i o n finds Or bends with the remover to remove:-0 no. i t i s an ever fixed mark That, looks on tempests and i s never shaken; : It i s the star of every wandering bark Whose worth's unknown although h i s height be taken. Love's not Time's f o o l , though rosy l i p s and cheeks Within h i s bending s i c k l e ' s compass come; Love a l t e r s not with his b r i e f hours and weeks, But bears i t out even to the end of doom:-If t h i s be error, and upon me proved, 1 never writ, nor no man ever loved." These e a r l y poets, we may notice, had love as t h e i r chief subject. So did the I t a l i a n s . But Milton put the form to other uses. He wrote p o l i t i c a l and national sonnets and i n his mighty hand the dainty love song became, on occasion, a sonorous war chant. One can hardly imagine a greater contrast i n tone than that between h i s sonnet on the massacre i n piemont and Drayton's delicate farewell to h i s lady. In form too he brought a change. Influenced by h i s acquaintance with con-temporary I t a l i a n poets and f e e l i n g perhaps that Shakespeare had reached the summit of achievement i n h i s own form, he returned to the I t a l i a n sonnet, but frequently joined the octet and the sestet so that either there was no d e f i n i t e break between the two parts, or the d i v i s i o n came i n an unusual place. The r e s u l t i s an Irregular but, i n Milton's hand at -19-l e a s t , a powerful sonnet, "Avenge 0 l o r d thy slaughter'd saints, whose bones Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold; Ev'n them who kept thy t r u t h so pure of old, When a l l our fathers worshipped stocks and stones, Forget not; i n thy book record t h e i r groans Who were thy sheep, and i n t h e i r ancient f o l d S l a i n by the bloodyPiemontese that r o l l 1 1 d Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans The vales redoubled to the h i l l s , and they To Heaven. Their martyrd blood and ashes sow O'er a l l the I t a l i a n f i e l d s , where s t i l l doth sway The t r i p l e tyrant; that from these may grow A hundred f o l d , who having learned thy way Early may f l y the Babylonian woe." After the l y r i c a l l y a r i d period of the Neo-Olassical Era, we f i n d Wordsworth writing sonnets which, although ' frequently quite i r r e g u l a r i n form, have a v i s i o n and a tenderness hitherto unknown in the English sonnet. He combined fe e l i n g and i n t e l l e c t , the sweetness of the Elizabethan writers with the a u s t e r i t y of Milton, to produce a sonnet of new power and beauty. "The World i s too much with us; late and soon, -Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; L i t t l e we see i n Nature that i s ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon. This sea that bares her bosom to the moon, The winds that w i l l be howling at a l l hours And are up-gathered now l i k e sleeping flowers, For t h i s , for everything, we are out of tune; It moves us not—Great God. I'd rather be A Pagan suckled i n a oreed outworn,— So might I, standing on t h i s pleasant lea, Have glimpses that would make me less f o r l o r n ; Have sight of Proteus r i s i n g from the sea; Or hear old T r i t o n blow h i s wreathed horn." Keats, so admired by Rossetti, also wrote b e a u t i f u l quite irregular sonnets. So did. Shelley and Byron. But 20-i t i s i n the work of Rossetti, at least among the poets since the Romantic Movement, that the sonnet finds i t s greatest master. Fresh from his tr a n s l a t i o n s of the early I t a l i a n sonneteersj he began himself to write sonnets using quite na t u r a l l y the I t a l i a n much more frequently than the Shakespearian form* He does at times, however, employ a f i n a l rhymed oouplet. Love's Baubles, for example, has i t ; so have Winged Hours, Mid-Rapture, and Her G i f t s . But many of the other two rhyme sestets have the f i r s t , fourth and f i f t h l i n e s chiming against the second, t h i r d , and s i x t h , thus avoiding i t . Such are The Love Letter, Passion and Worship, The Ki s s , Love's Lovers and others. I t i s i n the great sequence, The House of L i f e , that some of Rossetti's most b e a u t i f u l sonnets are to be found. Consisting of one hundred and one sonnets, i t opens with what may be considered as an expression of the poet's idea of the purpose of a sonnet. As a sort of manifesto i t perhaps deserves to be quoted; "A sonnet i s a moment's monument,— . Memorial from the Soul's e t e r n i t y To one dead deathless hour. Look that i t be, Whether for l u s t r a l r i t e or dire portent, Of i t s own arduous fulness reverent: Carve i t i n ivory or i n ebony, As Day or Night may ru l e ; and l e t Time see I t s flowering crest impearled and orient. A sonnet i s a coin: i t s face reveals The s o u l , — i t s converse, to what Power ' t i s due:-Whether for tribute to august appeals Of L i f e , or dower i n Love's high retinue, It serve; or 'mid the dark.wharf's cavernous breath, In Charon's palm i t pay the t o l l to Death." -21-To the "dead deathless" hours, then, did Rossetti dedicate h i s sonnets; and i t i s true that they cover most of the, phases of l i f e - - v i s i o n s of love and nature, ideas on a r t , beauty, and philosophy, thoughts on approaching death. But since to Rossetti the House of L i f e was almost the House of Love, we f i n d more . sonnets concerned with t h i s subject than with any other; and by t h i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c too he i s linked to the medieval poets. To prove that the early sonneteers, both I t a l i a n and English, did write almost exclusively of love, we may bring as evidence the sonnets of Dante—A Curse for a  F r u i t l e s s Love, of Beatrice de P o t i n a r i , and the sonnets of the V i t a Huova; those of Guido C a v a l c a n t i — I n Praise of Guido  Orlando's Lady, Of h i s Pain from a New Love; and the. sonnet sequences of the E a r l of Surrey, S i r P h i l l i p Sidney, and Edmund Spencer. Similarly^ of the one hundred and one sonnets of ithe.House of L i f e the f i r s t f i f t y - n i n e deal e x c l u s i v e l y with love i n a l l i t s phases. Moreover, i n these poems love i s credited with the same powers and addressed i n the'same terms as i n the poems of the early sonneteers. In fa c t , Rossetti's sonnets place him i n the direct l i n e of the medieval I t a l i a n sonnet writers and t h e i r followers i n England. The ballad too, with i t s sources lost i n the mists of t r a d i t i o n , attracted Rossetti greatly and he made several b r i l l i a n t imitations of the old form. The exact o r i g i n of the ballads has been the subject of considerable discussion -22-among scholars. But whether they were composed by the community as a whole as an accompaniment to a choral dance, or were the. work of i n d i v i d u a l poets whose id e n t i t y has e n t i r e l y disappeared, the fact remains that they existed and were transmitted by word of mouth long before they were ever put into manuscript form. They have, therefore, a directness and s i m p l i c i t y not found in any other form of verse. They are not consciously a r t i s t i c ; they merely t e l l t h e i r story i n the shortest and most effe c t i v e way possible. Modern poets think about t h e i r subject — stand o f f and view i t f i r s t from one angle and then from another, enriching i t with v i v i d and unexpected comparisons and figures of speech. But the ballads are c h i e f l y concerned with t h e i r action; they "only speak right on" without r e f l e c t i o n or description and t e l l t heir story i n the way best to be remembered, for i t was only in the memory of the people that they l i v e d . The outstanding c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the b a l l a d t h e rep e t i t i o n , the r e f r a i n found so often, and the, to us, quaint diction—have many times been imitated by l a t e r writers, but never with perfect success. S i r Walter Scott came perhaps the closest to the old form, but even he f a i l e d to capture completely the s i m p l i c i t y and artlessness of the t r a d i t i o n a l ballad. And Keats' famous La Belle Dame sans Merci, although undoubtedly a charming poem, i s c l e a r l y only an imitation b a l l a d . -23-"She found me roots of r e l i s h sweet, , And honey wild, and manna dew; And sure i n language strange she said, 'I love thee true*," The underlined words are a l l b e a u t i f u l , suggestive, and there-fore d e l i b e r a t e l y a r t i s t i c ; but a true ballad has no deliberate a r t . Rossetti 5 s imitation ballads are also very e f f e c t i v e . S i s t e r Helen has as i t s theme the revenge of a deserted woman and i s based on a popular superstition—common features of the b a l l a d . It uses incremental r e p e t i t i o n i n the successive a r r i v a l s of the two brothers, the father, and the bride of the doomed man, and also i n the weird r e f r a i n which, with s l i g h t variations, sounds l i k e the t o l l i n g of a b e l l across the entire poem. "O Mother, Mary Mother, Three days today between H e l l and HeavenJ" Also the story i s told a l l i n dialogue, another frequent c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the t r a d i t i o n a l b a l l a d . The bride i s f a i r , as medieval beauties always were, and the knights are t y p i c a l figures with t h e i r white plumes and galloping steeds. But the poem i s obviously a r t i s t i c . The mere use of the strange echo of the g i r l ' s name i n the r e f r a i n — " H e l l and Heaven" — shows t h i s . Some of Helen's r e p l i e s are s a r c a s t i c , -"0 t e l l him I fear the frozen dew, L i t t l e brother." Others carry a double meaning-"The way i s long to h i s son's abode, L i t t l e brother." -24 While the s l i g h t l y changing r e f r a i n echoes the g i r l ' s words and the sense of the verse. At the t o l l i n g of the "bell we f i n d : "His dying K n e l l , between H e l l and Heaven," And after her question as to where the horsemen ride from: "Whence should they come, between H e l l ' •. • • and Heaven?" A l l t h i s i s deliberate art end as such i s a l i e n to the t r a d i t i o n a l b a l l a d . But the poem i s , nevertheless, an extremely powerful and b r i l l i a n t l y clever imitation of the ballad form. St rat ton Water with i t s tale of the deserted g i r l and i t s t y p i c a l ballad metre also brings us close to the old ballad, though the happy ending i s seldom found i n the t r a d i t i o n a l form. There i s no r e f r a i n here, but there i s r e p e t i t i o n i n the t e l l i n g of the t a l e ; "'What's yonder far below that l i e s ..So white against the slope?' '0 i t ' s a s a i l o' your bonny barks .The waters have.washed up.' 'But I have never a s a i l so white And the water's not yet there!' '0 i t ' s the swans o' your bonny.lake .The r i s i n g flood doth scare. Moreover l o r d Sands i s looking out from the castle i n the t r a d i t i o n a l way and he wraps the g i r l i n a green mantle—thet most approved colour for women's clothes. The opposition of the family to the union of, the lovers was also a commonplace of the b a l l a d s . But there i s rather more description and -25-explanation here than would be found i n a t r a d i t i o n a l b a l l a d ; while such a verse as the following d e f i n i t e l y marks the poem as a* modern composition: • "O pleasant i s the gaze of l i f e • And sad i s death's b l i n d head; But awful are the l i v i n g eyes In the face of one thought dead." The true ballad would merely have t o l d what i t saw without reasoning about i t . . Eden Bower and Troy Town are b a l l a d imitations only i n form. They have the usual four beat l i n e , the frequently found r e f r a i n , and are t o l d o h i e f l y i n dialogue as are so "many of the t r a d i t i o n a l ballads. But the r e f r a i n s i n both have an a r t i f i c i a l r i n g and the rhyme schemes are not p a r t i c u l a r l y simple; i n Troy Town a b c a b o and i n Eden Bower, a b c c. Moreover the r e f r a i n - - l i k e r e p e t i t i o n of the words "heart's desire" i n the fourth l i n e of every verse of Troy Town, while e f f e c t i v e , i s obviously a poetie t r i c k . So i s the ending of the f i r s t l i n e of every verse of Eden Bower with a proper name—Adam, L i l i t h , Eve, Abel. The themes too are hardly such as would be found i n the t r a d i t i o n a l ballad which told of events fa m i l i a r to the common people, Troy Town has a purely l i t e r a r y and c l a s s i c a l source and Eden Bower i s based on a legend of Jewish mythology. Also the characters are more c l e a r l y designated than they would be i n a true ball a d . "Heavenborn Helen, Sparta's queen," begins Troy Town; and Eden  Bower opens with -26-"It was L i l i t h , the wife of Adam, (Sing Eden Bower I) Not a drop of her blood was human, But she was made like a soft sweet woman," The old ballads would have gone right into the story without any explanation. In short, Rossetti's poems are clever and very art i s t i c imitations of the ballad form. They are without question far more beautiful, more polished than the simple old traditional ballads; but they lack spontaneity. They might be termed synthetic ballads—the productions of art, not of the people. As Professor Gummere remarks :^ * "Art can create far beyond the beauty of sea-shells, and on occasion can exactly reproduce them; but i t cannot fashion or imitate their murmur of the sea," S t i l l another form especially popular in the Middle Ages and employed by Rossetti is the metrical romance. These tales of adventure told in verse can trace their origin back to the wonderful poems of Homer. They are to be found i n a l l ages and a l l nations, but seemed to flourish particularly, in Europe j during and just after the Crusades. It has therefore been argued that the Crusaders themselves brought back with them many tales of wonder heard in the East. By others such romances are attributed to the Scandinavians and by s t i l l 1, Gummere, P.B., The Popular Ballad, (Houghton, Mefflin and Company, Boston and Hew York, "1907), p. 321. others to the Provencals. But i t i s impossible to say exactly how they arose i n Europe. Although usually termed an epic, the famous Chanson de Roland i s considered by cer t a i n scholars to be the f i r s t European metrical romance. It i s mentioned by a monk who, apparently, died i n 1143. Numerous others followed, c h i e f l y i n Prance. The e a r l i e s t romance i n English i s Horn-child which appeared towards the end of the reign of Edward I and i s an abridgement of a French o r i g i n a l of two centuries e a r l i e r . .Two of the most famous of E n g l i s h romances are Guy of Warwick, which i s f i r s t mentioned about 1340, and Bevl3 of Southampton, from a thirteenth century French poem. By some authorities Chaucer i s considered to be the f i r s t to have written o r i g i n a l romances i n English. The Knight's Tale i s an outstanding example of h i s s k i l l i n t h i s f i e l d ; while i n the Rhyme of S i r Thopas he burlesques the r i d i c u l o u s features of the form. The number of metrical romances i s great; i n almost every European nation they are to be found t e l l i n g t ales of marvelous adventure i n days, long past. Le Mort Art hare, S i r Cauline, John the Reve, S i r L i o n e l , The Greene Knight, Merlin, The Marriage of S i r Gawaine—their very names sound l i k e bugle c a l l s summoning us back across the years to "old, unhappy, f a r - o f f things and battles long ago." Perhaps Rossetti's most t y p i c a l metrical romance i s Rose Mary—the story of Rose Mary, her f a i t h l e s s lover, and her two struggles with the s p i r i t s of the magic beryl stone, -28-which would f o r e t e l l the future, hut only to those without s i n . The f a i t h l e s s lover i s ) o f course^ a common figure i n a l l romances, while the supernatural element here supplied by the mystic stone with i t s powers of l i f e and death i s found i n numerous t a l e s — T h e Marriage of S i r Gawain, The Greene Knight, Chaucer's incompleted Squire's Tale, to mention only a few. The medieval setting too, with i t s knights and ladies, i s t y p i c a l of the old romances. Even the exquisite d e s c r i p t i o n s — that of th© b e r y l , f o r instance, or the wondrous chapel where i t l a y — c a l l to mind such detailed descriptive passages as those t e l l i n g of the three shrines i n Chaucer's Knight's Tale. But there i s i n Rossetti's poem a use of d e l i c a t e l y b e a u t i f u l words, figures, and images which show i t to b e > l i k e h i s ballads, a modern imitation of the old form. The following verse, for example, would never have been found i n a poem actually written i n the: Middle Ages, "With shuddering l i g h t 'twas s t i r r e d and strewn Like the cloud nest of the wading moon: Freaked i t was as the bubble's b a l l , Rainbow hued through a misty p a l l Like the middle l i g h t of the w a t e r f a l l . " Compare thi s with such a medieval description as that of the shrine of Venus i n Chaucer's,Knight's Tale: " F i r s t i n the temple of Venus maystow se .Wroght on the wal, f u l pitous to biholde, The broken slopes, and the sikes colde. The sacred t e e r i s , and the waymentinge, The f i r y strokes of the desirynge That loves servantz i n t h i s l y f endurent The othes that h i r covenantz assuren:" -29-The difference i s obvious. The second passage i s simply a catalogue of things seen while the f i r s t describes through comparisons, attempting to bring the whole picture before the mind's eye by means of connotative words, s i m i l i e s and h a l f truths, i n other words, one description i s elaborately a r t i s t i c , the other simple and natural; and i t i s t h i s which d i f f e r e n t i a t e s R o s s e t t i 1 s modern romance from those of the Middle Ages. The same i s true of his S t a f f and Scrip, The  Bride's Prelude, and The King's Tragedy. A l l , because they t e l l tales of romance and adventure i n verse form, deserve to be termed metrical romances; but equally a l l , by t h e i r a r t i s t i c treatment, t h e i r polished perfection, show themselves to be modern imitations of an old form. In his choice of subjects too we notice at once Rossetti's i n t e r e s t i n medieval days. Not for him the con-tention f o r p o l i t i c a l and s o c i a l freedom which oocupied the interest of such poets as Wordsworth, Shelley, and, i n h i s l a t e r days, Swinburne. Of the momentous p o l i t i c a l changes which i n h i s day were sweeping a l l Europe, of England's great imperial and commercial advancement then taking place, we f i n d no echo i n his poetry; not even the new s c i e n t i f i c discoveries so r a p i d l y changing the l i f e of V i c t o r i a n England are referred to i n any way* Indeed only two of a l l h i s poems can be con-sidered as at a l l r e f l e c t i v e of contemporary events. The f i r s t of these i s a sonnet written In his youth, about 1848 or 9, his "brother "believes, e n t i t l e d On the Refusal of Aid  Between Nations* I t laments the apathy with which other countries watched the struggles of It a l y and Hungary against Austria. The other i s Wellington's Funeral, dated November 1852 and written on the occasion of the b u r i a l of the famous man* But, with these exceptions, one might almost read the whole of'Rossetti's poetry without receiving a hint of the time or place i n which he l i v e d . For instead of writing of his own age and country, he transports us to a medieval world b u i l t upon h i s reading of old tales of c h i v a l r y , of the vis i o n s of the great Dante, and of the b e a u t i f u l old tales of Scripture and Church legend. And here we dream with him h i s b e a u t i f u l dreams, see his v i s i o n s of romance, and almost forget, In the joys and sorrows of yesterday's world, the worries and problems of a very troubled today* The truth of t h i s statement may be proved by a consideration of the subjects and settings of his poems. Of the longer narratives, only one, A hast Confession, can be c i t e d as occurring anywhere but i n the Middle Ages. As f o r the others, Dante at Verona,with i t s description of the poet i n e x i l e , belongs to the beginning of the fourteenth century; The Bride' s Prelude, S i s t e r Helen, The S t a f f and Scrip, and Rose Mary a l l take us back to the days, of chivalry;, though exactly when or where the events therein narrated took place does not transpire; while The White Ship and The King's Tragedy come -31-d l r e c t l y from the pages of medieval hi story. None, we observe, i s modern i n i t s s e t t i n g . Of the shorter poems, many give an impression of medievalism through t h e i r words and imagery. Such are The Blessed pamozel and s t r a t t o n Water. While the love poems— many of the House of L i f e sonnets and various other poems as Love L i l y , A New Year's Burden, Love 8s Nocturn—although with-out d e f i n i t e period breath the s p i r i t of Courtly Love g l o r i f i e d i n the writings of Dante. Though timeless they seem, in th e i r insistence on the lordship of love, to belong much more to the Middle Ages than to the V i c t o r i a n era. Love i s regarded as the master of l i f e , the bearer of a l l hope or despair, the ultimate goal of existence. And the poet prays, "Ah, when the wan soul i n that golden a i r Between the scriptured petals s o f t l y blown Peers breathless for the g i f t of grace unknown,--Ah. l e t none other a l i e n s p e l l soe'er But only the one Hope's one name be t h e r e , — Not less nor more, but even that word alone." This adoration of love i s not V i c t o r i a n at a l l . It i s simply an echo of Dante and the love conventions of the Middle Ages. And therefore we are surely j u s t i f i e d i n considering Rossetti's numerous poems r e f l e c t i n g t h i s f e e l i n g as medieval i n subject. Moreover, simply i n his use of words, Rossetti shows the medieval trend of his mind. The usual, commonly known words of h i s own day did not s u f f i c e f o r h i s requirements. To -58 create a desired atmosphere, he often de l i b e r a t e l y employed words which were archaic or those whose connotation was of the days of old. To the f i r s t group belong such as the quaint, manufactured form "herseemed" i n the t h i r d verse of the Blessed Damozel; the old p l u r a l "eyne" for eyes i n Dante at Verona; i n The Bride's Prelude, "meet" for f i t t i n g or suitable, "rood" for cross, "leechoraft" for medicine or surgery, "pleasaunoe" for pleasure-ground, and the i n t e r j e c t i o n "grammercy". In Rose Mary we f i n d "zone" for g i r d l e and "oakenshaw" for thicket of oak; i n the White Ship, "maugre" for i n spite of and "rede" for t a l e ; i n The King's Tragedy, "teen" for woe, "stark" for resolute or strong, "bale" for e v i l , and "ban" f o r ourse. "Ruth" occurs for compassion i n Sleepless  Dreams; the cherubim i n Ave are spoken of as "succinct"; and "soothly" stands f o r t r u l y i n Love' s Hoc turn. Even more numerous are the words with a medieval connotation. The passage describing the costumes of Aloyse and her s i s t e r i n The Bride's Prelude i s p a r t i c u l a r l y r i c h i n such forms: "Against the haloed lattice-panes The bridesmaid sunned her breast; Then to the glass turned t a l l and free, And braced and shifted d a i n t i l y Her l o i n - b e l t through her cote-hardie. The belt was s i l v e r , and the clasp Of lozenged arm-bearings; A world of mirrored t i n t s minute The r i p p l i n g sunshine wrought i n t o t , That flushed her hand and warmed her foot. -33-"Over her bosom, that lay s t i l l , - The vest was r i c h i n grain, With close pearls wholly overset: Around her throat the fastenings met Of chevasayle and mantelet." "Cote-hardie", "chevasayle", "mantelet"—what exactly do they mean? Some part of the dress, no doubt, but just what only a student of medievalism suoh as Rossetti could t e l l . To the ordinary reader, however, they create the sense of strange richness and antiquity which the poet wished to convey. In The Blessed Pamozel, the angels play upon "citherns and o i t o l e s " , evidently musical instruments of the Middle Ages. In Rose Mary the loiight l y i n g In wait for S i r James holds a lance with "blazoned s c r o l l " . Moreover "He seems some lord of t i t l e and t o l l -With seven squires to his bannerole." And at once we imagine a powerful medieval baron with power to tax t r a v e l l e r s over h i s roads and numerous retainers to follow him into b a t t l e . Even i n the House of L i f e sonnets a medieval atmosphere i s produced by the poet's constantly speaking of his beloved as "my lady" — surely an echo of Dante and of the days of Courtly Love. "Even so," he says i n Bridal B i r t h , "my Lady stood at gaze"; i n Love's Lovers, "my lady only loves the heart of Love"; and i n The P o r t r a i t , "0 Love I l e t t h i s my lady's picture glow". Always the words bring a v i s i o n , not of a g i r l of the V i c t o r i a n era with her fashionable f r i l l s and bustle, but of a slender damsel i n the simple straight gown -34-worn "by women of the Middle Ages, her long hair r i p p l i n g over her shoulders. Words, mere words, yet the magic of t h e i r unspoken meanings transports us momentarily to the world of romance and mystic beauty which i s found only i n the heart of a dreamer. The imagery found i n these poems i s as remarkably medieval as are the words themselves. Constantly the poet creates i n the minds of his readers those pictures of the fascinating past which he himself saw so c l e a r l y . And so i n The Blessed Damozel the maiden i s standing on "the rampart of God's house"—evidently a medieval castle; and the Madonna i s "the lady Mary" s i t t i n g surrounded by her maidens who are engaged i n spinning. While the heaven of The S t a f f and Scrip belongs even more d e f i n i t e l y to the Middle Ages, for a tournament -takes place there: "The l i s t s are set i n Heaven today, . The bright p a v i l i o n s shine; Pair hangs thy shi e l d , and none gainsay The trumpets sound i n sign That she i s thine," In The Bride's Prelude we are constantly given l i t t l e flashes of medieval l i f e as a background to the tale i t s e l f . "By f i t s there boomed a d u l l report .From where i'the hanging tennis-court The Bridegroom'.s retinue made sport." And we see the quaint figures at play i n the summer sun. Later we read, "I'the almonry, the almoner . Hard by, had just dispensed -35~ Church dole and march dole." This was the g i v i n g of alms, one of the duties expected of any great medieval family. In The P o r t r a i t , not i t s e l f a poem concerned with the Middle Ages, there i s rather a remarkable image i n the comparison of•the poet's dead dreams of l i f e with h i s beloved to the graves of Crusaders i n the Holy Land; "While hopes and alms long l o s t with her . Stand round her image side by side, Like tombs of pilgrims that have died About the,Holy Sepulchre," Quite as c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y medieval i s the imagery found i n The House of L i f e sonnets and other love poems. "0 thou who at Love's hour e c s t a t i c a l l y . Unto my heart dost evermore present Clothed with his f i r e , thy heart his testament." we find i n Love's Testament. And i n The Dark Glass; "Lol what am I to love the lord of a l l ? , One murmuring s h e l l he gathers from the sand, - -One l i t t l e heart-flame sheltered i n his hand." Both passages r e c a l l Dante's famous dream i n which he sees. Love holding i n h i s hand a flaming heart. The personification of death i n Dante's canzone beseeching Death for the l i f e of Beatrice has an echo i n Love sight: "How then should sound upon l i f e ' s darkening slope The ground w h i r l of the perished leaves of Hope, The wind of Death's imperishable wing?" This passage too, though i t cannot be traced to any d e f i n i t e source, undoubtedly was inspired by the visions of Dante. It -36-oocurs i n Pride of Youth; "Alas for hourly change! Alas for a l l .The loves that from his hand proud Youth l e t s f a l l , Even as the heads of a t o l d rosary." And the following, from Through Death to Love, with i t s conception of love as the ultimate goal of death, must surely be derived from the poet's memory of Dante's meeting with his beloved Beatrice i n Paradise; "Howbeit athwart Death's imminent shade doth soar One power, than flow of stream or f l i g h t of dove Sweeter to g l i d e around, to brood above. T e l l me, my heart,—what angel greeted door Or threshold of wing-winnowed threshing f l o o r Hath guest f i r e fledged as thine whose name i s Love?" Such passages, such visions of love and death are r e f l e c t i o n s of the mysticism of the Middle Ages. They do not belong to the p r a c t i c a l , material, and prosaic V i c t o r i a n era at a l l , but hark back to an age when the Churoh i n s i s t e d upon the most complete fusion of soul and body, the s p i r i t u a l and the physical. And the p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n of love, with h i s bow and arrows, often holding a flaming heart, end always regarded as a l o r d , i s derived d i r e c t l y from Dante whose love for Beatrice was i n i t s e l f a mystic union of the purely human passion with which the medieval game of Courtly Love was concerned, and the s p i r i t u a l adoration which might be bestowed upon a saint. These points w i l l be considered at greater length elsewhere. It i s here only necessary to notice the numerous passages c l e a r l y deriving their i n s p i r a t i o n from the medieval mysticism of Dante. Having done so, we r e a l i z e that i t i s by means of imagery as well as "by the use of singly e f f e c t i v e words that Rossetti oreates f o r us i n h i s poetry that dream world of romance whose people, with th e i r medieval background, he delighted to portray i n glowing colours on his canvass. But such aspects of Rossetti's medievalism are, as has already been pointed out, merely s u p e r f i c i a l r e f l e c t i o n s of h i s entire outlook. The medievalism which affected so much of h i s thought forms, as some one has remarked, the keynote of his poetry. In the following sections I s h a l l consider the various aspects of t h i s deeper medievalism and attempt to show how i t was r e f l e c t e d i n his work. CHAPTER IT THE INFLUENCE OF DANTE AND HIS CIRCLE Among the various influences which, combined, produce i n the work of Rossetti that p e c u l i a r quality I have termed "Medievalism", perhaps none i s so strong and so widely diffused as that of Dante and the contemporary sonnet writers whose poems Rossetti translated. Not only do we constantly f i n d i n hi s work expressions and imagery which these men might them-selves have employed., and which were doubtless inspired by R o s s e t t i 5 s c a r e f u l study of t h e i r work, but often h i s whole mental outlook seems to come straight from a tweIfth century world. Often, of course, as we s h a l l notice, such a state of mind i s overlaid with c e r t a i n modern ideas; but the background s t i l l r e t a i n s i t s i d e n t i t y and i s immediately recognizable. And t h i s medieval attitude to l i f e and love i s the r e a l l y im-portant element o f Dante's influence on R o s s e t t i , of which the quaint words and images are merely, so to speak, the symptoms. He also based c e r t a i n of his poems d i r e c t l y on Dante's l i f e and work. These we s h a l l disease before considering the e f f e c t of the I t a l i a n ' s H S S S S S H l thought upon the mind of Rossetti. The most important among them, Dante at Verona, i s an imaginative picture of Dante's sojourn at the court of Can Grande d e l l a Seala at Verona, a f t e r his banishment from h i s beloved Florence. With the insight and sympathy of understand-ing, Rossetti paints his scornful acceptance of his fate — -39-"•'And i f I go, who stays?"--so rose His scorn:—'and i f I stay, who goes?'" Then followed his long years of wandering and the early part of h i s stay at Verona where at f i r s t he was held i n high esteem. "At Can La Seals's court, no doubt, . Due reverence did his steps attend; The ushers on his path would bend At ingoing as at going out; The penmen waited on his c a l l At council-board, the grooms i n h a l l . " Pages hushed t h e i r chattering at his approach, but the p r i e s t s "Grudged ghostly greeting to the man By whom, though not of ghostly guild, With Heaven and H e l l men's hearts were f i l l e d . " And the court poets "had f o r his scorn t h e i r hates retort l i k e noon f l i e s they vexed him i n the ears and eyes." So he li v e d among the courtiers yet not of them, for always and everywhere his heart and mind were f i l l e d with thoughts of Beatrice, of his wonderful v i s i o n of Heaven and Hel l and of the City which seemed so c l o s e l y linked to her memory. U n t i l gradually, because he seemed a man set apart, and because as "he spared not to rebuke the mirth, so oft i n council he to b i t t e r t r u t h bore testimony" Can La Scala began to resent his presence and changed his f r i e n d l y attitude for one of "peevish sufferance"—a change quickly imitated by the courtiers. But i n spite of the constant small i n s u l t s and even deliberate annoyances, Dante refused to humble himself by complying with the shameful terms imposed by the state upon his return to - 4 0 Florence, He remained an e x i l e , devoting himself to the task of enshrining his lady forever i n the hearts of men. And as the- years advanced he s t i l l heard the voice which f i r s t came to h i s ears i n his ninth year—"Even I, even I am Beatrice." U n t i l at l a s t , h i s great task completed "he rose and went his way". As a whole the poem seems to lack a c e r t a i n f i r e and vigour which we might expect to f i n d i n a poem so c l o s e l y related to Rossetti's own experiences as t h i s , f o r was not his father an e x i l e from h i s heloved I t a l y and, l i k e Dante, f o r purely p o l i t i c a l reasons? Instead we f i n d , as Mr. Gary observes, a " r e f l e c t i v e tone r i s i n g to a height of dignity and calm seldom shown by Rossetti i n h i s poetry, but conspicuous i n h i s l e t t e r s on subjects involving deep f e e l i n g . " 1 We notice also a wandering from the main theme, as i n the three bracketed verses discussing the p o l i t i c a l state of Florence. It seems possible that a more powerful single e f f e c t might have been obtained by condensation. Certain passages, however, are unforgettable i n t h e i r vividness and r e a l i t y ; such i s the scene where Can G-rande openly declared to Dante his preference for the coarse wit of the j e s t e r ; and the other where bones were p i l e d beneath Dante's place at table. We see i n our minds the t a l l , proud figure with i t s greying beard, hated by 1. Gary, E.L., The Rossettis, (G. P. Putnam's Sons, Hew York and London, 1900) pp. 152-3. -4.1-some yet held i n a c e r t a i n awe, taking i t s lonely way through the crowded streets, The body may be exiled from i t s home and sentenced to be burned i f i t return to the c i t y of i t s b i r t h , but the mind i s so busy with i t s dream "that a l l ended with her eyes, H e l l , Purgatory, Paradise," that the man can bear to eat the brackish bread that seemed lass corn than tares and to tread those s t a i r s "which of a l l paths his feet knew well, were steeper found than Heaven or H e l l " . Nor can we quickly forget his meeting with c e r t a i n women who remarked that h i s whitening beard and hair had been singed by the f i r e s of H e l l which he had v i s i t e d . He smiled i n the pride of his fame, said Boccaccio, but, remarks Rossetti "We cannot know . If haply he were.not beguil'd To b i t t e r mirth, who scarce could t e l l I f he indeed were back from H e l l . " Such scenes seem to f l a s h before us the r e a l Dante clothed in human f l e s h , and a l i v i n g man takes the place of the shadowy figure of the V i t a Nuova and the Divine Comedy. In addition to t h i s long poem there are two sonnets of which Dante i s the theme. The f i r s t , Pantis Tenebrae, was written i n memory of the poet's father and asks whether, when Gabriels Rossetti gave him the name of Dante, he had any idea "that also on thy son must Beatrice decline her eyes according to her wont" and that he should follow i n the footsteps of his great name sake to where "wisdom's l i v i n g fountain to his c haunt trembles i n music". In the second, e n t i t l e d On the V i t a Nuova -42-of Dante, Rossetti gives to Dante's beautiful story the cre d i t f o r his own understanding of love and the perfection and pu r i t y to which i t can a t t a i n : "At length within t h i s book I found portrayed .. Newborn that Paradisal Love of his, And simple l i k e a c h i l d ; with whose clear aid I understood. To such a c h i l d as this Christ, charging well his chosen ones forbade Offence; 'for l o l of such my kingdom i s ' . " The imagery i n the l a s t two l i n e s , exceptionally s t r i k i n g and b e a u t i f u l , i s surely worthy of the wonderful love of Dante and i t s h istory as related i n his New L i f e . Knowing that Rossetti translated the compositions of Dante and his contemporaries, and wrote such poems as those just discussed, we s h a l l not be surprised to find through his entire work, but e s p e c i a l l y i n the House of L i f e sonnets, echoes of these men's verses. One of the most noticeable i s that of a very medieval feature of the I t a l i a n writers' poetry—the r e f l e c t i o n of the amusement of the upper classes known as Courtly Love. In a society where marriage was p r a c t i c a l l y a business a f f a i r , s e t t l e d often without reference to the wishes of the two p r i n c i p a l s , i t became, as an escape from much unhappiness, a sort of game with d e f i n i t e regulations which lovers were supposed to follow. Every young man of noble b i r t h must have a lady who was, to him, the ideal of a l l beauty and goodness. The winning of her heart was the central aim of h i s l i f e , and to t h i s end were dedicated a l l his. achievements. There were even supposed to have been -43-i n s t i t u t i o n s known as Courts of Love before which a l l sorts of questions pertaining to' love were discussed,, Whether such assemblies r e a l l y took place or whether they were simply l i t e r a r y f i c t i o n i s s t i l l a disputed point; but tables of rules for lovers did, apparently, actually e x i s t . Many of the regulations found therein are r e f l e c t e d i n the work of Dante and i n that of almost every writer of the Middle Ages who dealt with the subject of love; and i t i s these which we s h a l l now consider as being r e f l e c t e d i n the work of Rossetti, One of the most r i g i d rules required that the lady must always be cold to her lover i n spite of her kindness to everyone else. I f she yielded to him i t must only be after a long period of the most complete devotion on h i s part, Dante's Beatrice f u l f i l l s t h i s requirement quite s a t i s f a c t o r i l y . She never grants him more than a passing greeting and i n a l l the. V i t a Nuova there i s no record of a r e a l conversation between them. She i s either t o t a l l y unaware of the poet's a f f e c t i o n f o r her or ignores i t del i b e r a t e l y and completely. Even her salutation i s , on one occasion, refused to the unhappy Dante. He t e l l s us that "by t h i s i t happened (to wit; by this false and e v i l rumour which seemed to misfame me of vice) that she who was the destroyer of a l l e v i l and the queen of a l l good, coming where I was, denied me her most sweet salutation i n the which alone was my blessedness" 1* He also wrote a Canzone 1, Dante, A l i g h i e r i , "Vita Nuova", translation of Rossetti, D.G-., Collected Works, ( E l l i s and Elvey, London,1890) Vol.j:,p.41. -44-"In Complaint of his Lady's Scorn" which Rossetti thinks probably refers to the same occurrences, It i s too long to quote i n f u l l f but i t s general import may be gathered from the opening l i n e s ; "Love, since i t i s thy w i l l that I return ."Neath her usurped control Who i s thou know' st how be a u t i f u l and proud, Enlighten thou her.heart, so bidding burn Thy flame within her soul That she rejoice not when my cry i s loud." In a Ses tine, e n t i t l e d "Of the Lady P i e t r a degli Scrovigni", we fi n d t h i s verse• "Utterly frozen i s t h i s youthful lady, .Even as the snow that l i e s within the shade; For she i s no more moved than i s the stone By the sweet season which makes warm the h i l l s And a l t e r s them afresh from white to green, Covering their sides again with flowers and grass," Such was the correct attitude of the heroine of a ta l e of Courtly Love. In contrast to i t was the humility of the lover, constantly on his s p i r i t u a l knees before the lady, pleading f o r her favours. Dante never seems to expect more than a passing smile or word from Beatrice and i s completely happy when these are granted. He i s always conscious of i n f e r i o r i t y i n her presence and f e e l s that he i s unworthy to receive much attention from her. When he had determined to • write i n praise of her, he t e l l s us that " i t seemed to me that I had taken to myself a theme which was much too l o f t y , so that I dared not begin; and I remained during several days i n -45-1 the desire of speaking and i n the fear of beginning". * Dino Campagni expresses a similar sentiment i n a sonnet where he says; 2" "No man may mount upon a golden s t a i r „ Guido, my master, to Love's palaoe s i l l ; No key of gold w i l l f i t the lock that's there, Nor heart there enter without pure goodwill. Not i f he miss one courteous duty, dare A lover hope he should h i s love f u l f i l ; But to his lady must make meek repair, Reaping with husbandry her favours s t i l l . " The reason for t h i s humility on the part of the lover was, of course, the surpassing goodness and beauty of the lady. She was always the f a i r e s t of the f a i r , a c r i t e r i o n of female excellence, for her virtue was as great as her beauty. Only to the lover was she cold and orue1; to a l l others she was the embodiment of kindness, sweetness and grace ; and her mere presence brought happiness to a l l about her. This idea is; repeated again and again i n the sonnets as well as i n the V i t a Nuova. Says Dante afte r f i r s t seeing Beatrice; "Wherefore I i n my boyhood often went i n search of her, and found her so noble and praiseworthy that c e r t a i n l y of her might have been said the words of the poet Homer, 'She seemed not to be the 3 daughter of a mortal man, but of God 1". ' So great was the vi r t u e of her salutation that "when she appeared to me i n any place, i t seemed to me, by the hope of her excellent 1. Danti, A l i g h i e r i , op. o i t . , pp. 53-4. 2. Campagni, Dino, "Sonnet", translation of Rossetti, -D.G., op. c i t . p. 141. ,. • • 3. Dante, A l i g h i e r i , op. c i t . , p. 31. salutation, that there was no man mine enemy any longer; and such warmth of charity came upon me that most c e r t a i n l y i n that moment I would have pardoned whosoever had done me an inj u r y ; and i f one should then have questioned me concerning any matter, I could only have said unto him, 'Love 8, with a countenance clothed with humbleness." 1 * Again he says: "She hath that paleness of the p e a r l that's f i t -in a f a i r woman, so much and not more; She i s as high as nature's s k i l l can soar; Beauty i s t r i e d by her comparison."2. Among the sonnet writers Guido Cavalcanti, Dante's f r i e n d , speaks i n very similar terms concerning his lady: "Lady she seems of such high benison . As makes a l l others graceless i n men's sight, The honour which i s hers cannot be said : To whom are subject a l l things virtuous While a l l things beauteous own her deity."*>• Such were the conventional c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the c o u r t l y lover and h i s lady. But the regulations of the love game did not stop with a statement of the correct attitude of the two p r i n c i p a l s . They went on to describe the way i n which love should be kindled i n the heart of the lover. This was to be accomplished by a glance from the lady's eyes, which, being received by the eyes of the lover, was to pierce through them to the heart and there to arouse i n him the f a t a l passion. 1. Dante, A l i g h i e r i , op. c i t . , p. 41. 2. Ibid, p. 55. 3. Cavalcanti, Guido, "Sonnet", translation of Rossetti, D« Gv, op. c i t . , p. 119. „ Says Dante: "Then beauty seen i n virtuous womankind W i l l make the eyes desire, and through the heart Send the desiring of the eyes again; Where often i t abides so long enshrined 1 That Love at length out of h i s sleep w i l l s t a r t . " Guido Gavalcanti refers to the same conoeit i n one of his sonnets % "A ce r t a i n youthful lady i n Thoulouse, .  Gentle and f a i r , of cheerful modesty, Is i n her eyes, with such exact degree, Of likeness unto mine own lady, whose I am, that through the heart she doth abuse The soul to sweet desire. It goes from me To her; yet, fearing, saith not who i s she That of a truth i t s essence thus subdues. This lady looks on i t with the sweet eyes Whose glance did erst the wounds of Love annoint Through i t s true lady's eyes which are as they. Then to the heart returns i t , f u l l of sighs, Wounded to death by a sharp arrow's point Wherewith t h i s lady speeds i t on i t s way,"2* So does Oino da p i s t o i a : "This f a i r e s t lady, who, as well I wot, ., Pound entrance by her beauty to my soul, Pierced through mine eyes my heart, which erst was whole, „ Sorely, yet makes as though she knew i t not;" 8 And, Dino Prescobaldi explains, "This i s the damsel by whom love i s brought To enter at h i s eyes that looks on her." 4• 1. Dante, A l i g h i e r i , op. c i t . , p. 58. 2. Gavalcanti, Guido, "Sonnet", tr a n s l a t i o n of Rossetti D.G., op. c i t . p. 123, 3. P i s t o i a , Cino da, "Sonnet", t r a n s l a t i o n of Rossetti, D.G., op. c i t . , p. 170. 4. Prescobaldi, Dino, "Sonnet", tr a n s l a t i o n of Rossetti D.G., op. c i t . , p. 210. -48-These few examples give some idea of the power with which ladi e s ' eyes were credited and the important place they occupied i n the love l i t e r a t u r e of the period* Constantly we f i n d references to them and praises of t h e i r beauty. The love sickness, being once caught, was expected to show d e f i n i t e physical e f f e c t s i n i t s victim. The devoted lover became thi n , pale, and abstracted, l o s t h i s appetite, was unable to sleep, and turned faint and giddy i f he saw his lady or i f she suddenly looked at him. As W. S. Gilbert expresses i t (for the same symptoms, we must suppose, manifest themselves i n a woman i f she i s infected with the disease)• "When maiden loves she s i t s and sighs . Or wanders to and f r o ; Unbidden tear-drops f i l l her eyes, And to a l l questions she r e p l i e s With a sad 'Heigh-hoI'." That Dante and contemporary lovers were affected i n t h i s d i s t r e s s i n g way, we may infer from numerous passages i n t h e i r writings. After his dream of Love and Beatrice, Dante t e l l s us that "Prom that night f o r t h , the natural functions of my body began to b© vexed and impeded, f o r I was given up wholly to thinking of t h i s most gracious creature. Whereby i n a short space I became so weak and so reduced that i t was i r k -1. some to many of my friends to look upon me". * On one occasion the mere presence of Beatrice seemed to affect him, for even before he had seen her he "began to f e e l a faintness 1. Dante, A l i g h i e r i , op. c i t . , p. 34. -49 « and a throbbing at my l e f t side, which, soon took possession of my whole body"."^9 Moreover, i n one place he speaks of "the sore change i n mine aspect" which had overtaken him since love had taken possession of his soul. And one day i t happened, he says, "that I was taken with such a strong trembling at the heart, that i t could not have been otherwise i n the presence of my l a d y " . 2 . But these .were not the only r e s u l t s produced by Love upon one under i t s sway. It was supposed to have an ennobling ef f e c t upon the sufferer. It inspired him to act with such n o b i l i t y as might be expected to win the approval of h i s lady and also to attempt d i f f i c u l t tasks In her honour—in short, to become a "verray, p a r f i t g e n t i l knyght". Thus Dante's adoration of Beatrice inspired him f i r s t to write the beautiful T i ta Nuova, i n which he t e l l s the story of his love f o r her, and l a t e r the Divine Comedy of which she i s the i n s p i r a t i o n and goal—"So that a l l ended with her eyes, H e l l , P&rgatory, Paradise." In these compositions he has g l o r i f i e d her as never woman has been g l o r i f i e d before or since; and to her the world owes some of the l o v e l i e s t poetry and the most wonderful v i s i o n which the b r a i n of man has ever conceived and the hand of man penned. Cecco A n g i o l i e r i bears witness to the fact that: I. ©ante', A l i g h i e r i , op. c i t . , p. 4 7 . 3 * Ibid, p. 6 8 , - 5 0 -"Whatever good Is naturally done . Is born of Love as f r u i t i s born of flower: By Love a l l good i s brought to i t s full'power; Yea, .Love does more than t h i s ; for he finds none So ooarse but from his touch some grace i s won, And the poor wretch i s altered i n an hour." 1* And Pino prescobaldi says of h i s lady; "Glad I am therefore that her grace should f a l l .. Hot otherwise than thus; whose r i c h increase Is such a power as e v i l cannot dim. My.sins within an instant perished a l l When I inhaled the l i g h t of so much peace. And this Love knows; for I have told i t him."*29 Such i s the influence of the lady upon her lover. But since the ef f e c t s mentioned are brought about by the power of love, he i s frequently regarded, i n medieval ero t i c l i t e r -ature, as a l o r d , a master, a god. There seem to have been at least two d i s t i n c t conceptions employed. The f i r s t considers love as a feudal lor d , a mighty ruler with power of l i f e and death over h i s subjects, Dante constantly speaks of him i n t h i s way, "Love", he says, "Quite governed my soul; which was immediately espoused to him, and with so safe and indisputable a lordship . . . . . that I had nothing l e f t for i t but to do a l l his bidding continually." And again he speaks of him as "he who ruled me by virtu e of my most gentle lady," In one of the sonnets of the Vita Nuova he addresses him as "master of a l l ruth"; and i n s t i l l another sonnet, says: "A king Love i s 1. A n g i o l i e r i , Cecco, "Sonnet", tr a n s l a t i o n of Rossetti, D.G,, op, c i t . , p. 186. 2. Prescobaldi, Pino, "Sonnet", tr a n s l a t i o n of Rossetti, D,G., op. c i t . , p. 211. -51-whose palace where he- reigns i s aalled the Heart". The other conoeit i s that wherein love i s pictured as a god—Bros, the l i t t l e winged boy with h i s bow and arrows. This conception, however, i s found rather more frequently i n the sonnet writers than in Dante; Gina da Pestoia, for example, says; "Yet meeting love, Death's neighbour, I declare, .That s t i l l h i s arrows hold my heart i n chase." !• Obviously the image here c a l l e d up i s that of Cupid. Guido Gavalcanti employs the same figure when he says: "This Lady looks on i t with the sweet eyes .. Whose glance did erst the wounds of Love anoint, Through i t s true lady's eyes which are as they. Then to the heart returns i t , f u l l of sighs, Wounded to death by a sharp arrow's point, Wherewith t h i s lady speeds i t on i t s way."2. So strongly did these two conceptions of love take hold on men's imaginations that we find them referred to i n the l i t e r -ature of p r a c t i c a l l y every age right down to our own; while i n the other d i r e c t i o n the d e i s t i e conception may be traced back to the c l a s s i c a l writers of Greece and Rome. But during the Middle Ages such p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n seemed to have a vividness and l i f e which subsequently became les s and less u n t i l today these images are merely conventional figures of speech. Two other laws of Courtly Love remain to be dealt with. The f i r s t of these required f i d e l i t y between the lovers; 1. P i s t o i a , Cino da, "Sonnet", translation of Rossetti, D.G., op. c i t , , p. 111. 2. Gavalcanti, Guido, "Sonnet", tr a n s l a t i o n of Rossetti, D.G., op. c i t . , p. 125. --52-the second, complete secrecy. Faithlessness was the unfor-giveable s i n . Dante recognizes t h i s when he condemns so completely h i s passing a f f e c t i o n f o r the p i t i f u l "lady of the window". After a v i s i o n of Beatrice had appeared to him, he t e l l s us that h i s "heart began p a i n f u l l y to repent of the desire by which i t had so basely l e t i t s e l f be possessed " during so many days, contrary to the constancy of reason. And then, t h i s e v i l desire being gone from me, a l l my thoughts turned again unto th e i r excellent Beatrice. . And I say most t r u l y that from that hour I thought constantly of her with the whole humbled and ashamed heart". That he did so i s evidenced by the fact that i t i s she who i s enshrined forever i n the Divine .Comedy.. In addition, the regulations of Courtly Love required that the a f f a i r be kept a complete secret. This, of course, arose from the f a c t that i t was usually i l l i c i t and had to be kept quiet i n order to preserve the lady's good name. Dante was complying with t h i s convention when he pretended to be interested i n a lady other than Beatrice and when, on the death of his f i r s t "protector", he c ho se another on the advice of Love. This second one proved so e f f e c t i v e a screen that, as he r e l a t e s rather r u e f u l l y "the matter was spoken of by many i n terms scarcely courteous; through the which I had 1. Dante, A l i g h i e r i , op. c i t . , p. 90. -55-oftenwhiles many troublesome hours",'1'* and on account of gossip was refused the salutation of his true lady. He, how-ever, took her rebuke with the meekness required of a true lover, s a t i s f i e d that he was s u f f e r i n g these things i n the service of his beloved, that her name might remain above reproach on the tongues of men. Such were, the c h i e f c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of Courtly Love as exemplified i n the work of Dante and his contemporaries„ To us, of course, i t a l l seems rather f o o l i s h and a r t i f i c i a l , but to those men i t was a v i t a l and quite serious matter, not to be laughed at or treated d i s r e s p e c t f u l l y ; for love was to them a serious business and i t s regulations must be observed. The poetry of Rossetti r e f l e c t s many of the'con-ventions of Courtly Love, with which, doubtless, he became fam i l i a r l a r g e l y through his reading and translate on of Dante and the other I t a l i a n poets. There i s , for example, an insistence on the beauty and virtue of his lady. The whole of the l o v e l y sonnet i n the House of L i f e e n t i t l e d Beauty's  Pageant expresses t h i s idea; so does Genius i n Beauty which begins; "Beauty l i k e hers i s genius. Hot the c a l l Of.Homer's or of Dante's heart sublime,— Not Michael's hand furrowing the zones of time,— Is more with.compassed mysteries musical." In Gracious Moonlight we f i n d ; 1. Dante, -Alighieri, op. c i t . , p. 41 - 5 4 -"Even as the moon grows queenlier i n mid-space :. VJhen the sky darkens, and her cloud-rapt ear T h r i l l s with intenser radiance from a f a r , — So lambant, lady, beams thy sovereign grace When the drear soul desires thee. Of that face What s h a l l be said,—which, l i k e a governing star, Gathers and garners from a l l things that are Their s i l e n t , penetrative lo v e l i n e s s . " The Moonstar too i s written i n praise of his lady's beauty: "Lady, I thank thee for thy loveliness , Because my lady i s more lovely s t i l l . Glorying I gaze, and y i e l d with glad goodwill To thee thy t r i b u t e ; by whose sweet-spun dress 'Of delicate l i f e Love labors to assess My lady's.absolute queendom; saying, 'Lol • How high t h i s beauty i s , which yet doth show But as that beauty's sovereign votaress'." F i n a l l y , Her G i f t s endows his beloved with a l l the loveliness possible to a woman; "High grace, the dower of queens; and therewithal - Some wood-born wonder's sweet si m p l i c i t y ; A glance l i k e water brimming with the sky, Or hyacinth-light where forest shadows f a l l ; Such t h r i l l i n g p a l l o r of cheek as doth enthrall The heart; a mouth whose passionate forms imply A l l music and a l l silence held thereby; . Peep golden locks, her sovereign coronal; A round reared neck, meet column of Love's shrine To c l i n g to when the heart takes sanctuary, Hands which forever at Love's bidding be, And soft s t i r r e d feet s t i l l answering to his sign," We f i n d too that Rossetti has various references to the old conceit of love being aroused by a glance from the lady, which, entering at the eyes of the lover, pierces his heart. In The Stream's Secret he says that at l a s t they w i l l speak "what eyes so oft had t o l d to eyes"; i n Love's Testament, that her eyes w i l l draw up h i s prisoned s p i r i t to her soul; and i n The Park Glass; -55-"Lol What am I to Love, the lord of a l l ? . One murmuring s h e l l he gathers from the sand,— One l i t t l e heart-flame sheltered i n h i s hand. Yet through thine eyes he grants me clearest c a l l And v a r i e s t touch of powers primordial That any hour-girt l i f e may understands" The conception of love as a god and as a lord i s also very frequent i n Rossetti. In The Stream's Secret, for example, he speaks of Love "Murmuring with curl s a l l dappled i n thy flow „ And masked l i p s rosy r e d " — c l e a r l y imagining him as Gupid. In Love's Lovers, too, love i s pictured as the l i t t l e winged god with his bow and arrows: "Some ladies love the jewels i n Love's zone, , And gold-tipped darts he has for harmless play In i d l e scornful hours he f l i n g s away; And some that l i s t e n to hi s lute's soft tone Do love to vaunt the s i l v e r praise t h e i r own; Some praise his b l i n d f o l d sight; and there be they Who 'kissed his wings which brought him yesterday And thank h i s wings today that he i s flown." The same imagery i s found i n the f i r s t sonnet of Willowwood when Love "with his wing feathers" r u f f l e d the surface of the spring. While i n the sonnet The Por t r a i t he i s regarded as a r u l e r — " 0 Lord of a l l compassionate control" Rossetti addresses him. The Lover's Walk speaks of "Love's high decree" and i n The Dark Glass i s the expression "love, the lord of a l l " . Similar images indeed are very nearly as frequent i n the poetry of Rossetti as i n that of the early I t a l i a n poets who influenced him so strongly. Moreover Rossetti recognized the requirement of -56-f i d e l i t y between lovers. Dante's utter devotion to Beatrice was his conception of the id e a l relationship between them. In'his own l i f e , i t was, of course, his wife, Elizabeth S i d a l , who stood i n the place of Beatrice. But just as Dante succumbed to the charms of the "lady of the window", so Rossetti, i n spite of his great a f f e c t i o n for his wife, at various times, as h i s brother's memoir states i n veiled terms, found other women attractive to him. And one of these, Fanny Cornforth, whom he discovered eating nuts i n the Strand, apparently became hi s i d e a l of sensuous physical beauty. It i s she who was f i r s t painted as lady L i l i t h . But such wander-ings from h i s i d e a l seemed to cause him much distress and i n one sonnet, The Love-Moon, we find him apparently attempting to j u s t i f y h i s fancy for another woman after the death of his true lady, with the plea that the new love i s only a r e f l e c t i o n of the old and w i l l ultimately l i g h t him to the source of a l l love. Though rather obscure, I think i t deserves to be quoted i n f u l l : "'When that dead face, bowered i n the furthest years, .Which once was a l l the l i f e years held for thee, Can now scarce bid the tides of memory Cast on thy soul a l i t t l e spray of tears,-— How canst thou gaze into these eyes of hers Whom now thy heart delights i n , and not see Within each orb Love's philtered euphrasy . Making them of buried troth remembrancers.1 'Nay, p i t i f u l Love, nay loving P i t y . Well Thou knowest that i n these twain I have confess'd Two very voices of thy summoning b e l l . Nay, Master, s h a l l not Death make manifest In these culminant changes which approve The love-moon that must l i g h t my soul to Love?'" -5 7 -In Rossetti's narrative poems too, i n f i d e l i t y i s regarded as a serious crime, It i s for t h i s offence that Si s t e r Helen takes her dreadful revenge upon her former lover; while the f a i t h -less knight i n Rose Mary i s condemned to the "Hell of Treason". Conversely, Rose Mary hers e l f , who was true to her love even i n death, i s admitted to the "Heaven of love"; and the f a i t h -f u l lovers i n The St a f f and Scrip are f i n a l l y united i n a l i f e after death, F i n a l l y , the sickness of the lover i s , on one occasion at l e a s t , referred to by Rossetti, The f i r s t verse of l o v e - L i l y runs thus: "Between the hands, between the brows, Between the l i p s of Love-Lily, A s p i r i t i s born whose b i r t h endows My blood with f i r e to burn through me : Who breathes upon my gazing eyes 'Who laughs and murmurs i n mine ear, At whose least touch my colour f l i e s , And whom my l i f e grows f a i n t to hear." Clearly t h i s i s an echo of the Courtly Love convention observed by Dante and the other early I t a l i a n poets. So we gather that the game of love and i t s rules, as interpreted by these men, occupy an important place i n the work of Rossetti, He i s perhaps the only modern English writer to employ them in utter seriousness with no trace of amusement or r i d i c u l e ; they seem, indeed, as v i t a l to him as they were to the writers of the Middle Ages; and i n t h i s respect he i s en t i r e l y medieval. - 5 8 -Next to the elements of Courtly love which are to be found i n Dante, perhaps the most noticeable feature of h i s poetry i s his i d e a l i z a t i o n of Beatrice. In f a c t i t i s t h i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c which sets his work apart from the bulk of er o t i c l i t e r a t u r e of his day. Beatrice i s more than a woman to him. She i s a soul set apart, a thing "ensky'd and sainted", almost an angel on earth. That he so regards her i s c l e a r l y shown i n several passages of the y i t a Nuova. In one place, speaking of her e f f e c t upon others, he says, "She went along crowned'and clothed with humility, showing no whit of pride i n a l l that she heard and saw; and when she had gone by i t was said of many, 'This i s not a woman, but one of the b e a u t i f u l angels of Heaven': and there were some that said: 'This i s surely a miracle; blessed be the Lord who hath the power to work thus marvelously* : I say, of very sooth, that she showed herself so gentle and so f u l l of a l l perfection that she bred i n those who looked upon her a soothing quiet beyond any speech; neither could any look upon her without sighing immediately. These things, and things yet more wonderful, were brought to pass through her miraculous v i r t u e . " The same idea i s expressed i n a sonnet following, where these l i n e s occur: "And s t i l l , amid the praise she hears secure, .She walks with holiness f o r her array; Seeming a creature sent by Heaven to stay On earth and show a miracle made sure." More evidence of her divine nature seemed, to Dante, to "be found i n her strange connection with the number nine. He f i r s t saw her almost at the "beginning of her ninth year and at'the end of h i s ; the second time he encountered her was exactly nine years a f t e r the f i r s t meeting; and "The hour of her most sweet salutation was exactly the ninth of that day." Again,, whan he made a l i s t of the si x t y most be a u t i f u l ladies of Florence, he found that "my lady's name would not stand otherwise than ninth i n order among the names of these ladies". F i n a l l y and most remarkably, "according to the d i v i s i o n of time i n I t a l y her most noble s p i r i t departed from among us i n the f i r s t hour of the ninth day of the month; and according to the d i v i s i o n of time i n Syria, i n the ninth month of the year; seeing that Tismin, which with us i s October, i s there the f i r s t month. Also she was taken from us i n that year of our reckoning (to wit, of the years of our Lord) i n which the perfect number was nine times multiplied within that century wherein she was born into the world; which i s to say, the thirteenth century of Christians," Dante, considering a l l these f a c t s , comes to the conclusion that " t h i s lady was accompanied by the number nine to the end that men might c l e a r l y perceive her to be a nine, that i s , a miracle, whose only root i s i n the Holy T r i n i t y , " I t i s clear, therefore, that, to Dante, Beatrice, during her l i f e , was f a r more than a woman who attracted him by her physical loveliness; i t was the divine p u r i t y of her -60-soul, her sweetness and gentleness which c a l l e d forth his devotion. And i f during her l i f e he regarded her as a miracle, as almost a saint, i t was natural that he should idealize her s t i l l more highly after her death. He pictures her then as a radiant being adored by the very angels. "But from the height of woman's fairness, she, -Going up from us with the joy we had, Grew pe r f e c t l y and s p i r i t u a l l y f a i r ; That so she spreads even there A l i g h t of love which makes the angels glad And even unto t h e i r subtle minds can bring. A c e r t a i n awe of profound marvelling." !• Again i n a Canzone beseeching Death fo r the l i f e of Beatrice,' he pictures the angels as singing her praises: "I seem to see Heaven's gate, that i s shut f a s t , Open, and angels f i l l i n g a l l the space About me,—come to fetch her soul whose laud Is sung by saints and angels before God." This i d e a l i z a t i o n of the beloved into something which, while s t i l l human, approaches the divine, or perhaps one should say the angelic, i s also an important element i n Rossetti's poetry. It i s perhaps most c l e a r l y exemplified i n The Blessed Damozel. In t h i s poem, the g i r l ' s s p i r i t in Heaven watches and longs for her lover who i s s t i l l in the world. Rossetti himself has t o l d us that i t was inspired by Poe 1s poem The Raven, which describes the g r i e f of the lover l e f t on earth. But one cannot help f e e l i n g that the shadow of Dante has f a l l e n very heavily upon i t and that the damozel i s 1. Dante, A l i g h i e r i , op. c i t , , pp. 83-4. -61-a s i s t e r or at most a cousin of Beatrice—indeed even her designation seems an echo of the name "She who confers bless-ing". At any rate, i n the two beautiful f i r s t verses Rossetti describes the c e l e s t i a l loveliness of the maiden who is now "one of God's ohoristers"• "The Blessed Damozel leaned out> Prom the gold bar of Heaven; Her eyes were deeper than the depths Of waters s t i l l e d at even; She had three l i l i e s i n her hand And the stars i n her hair were seven. Her robe ungirt from clasp to hem Ho wrought flowers did adorn, But a white rose of Mary's g i f t , For service meetly worn; Her hair that lay along her back Was yellow l i k e ripe corn." In the sonnet Heart' s Compass we find Rossetti i d e a l i z i n g his lady into an expression of the very meaning of l i f e : "Sometimes thou seemest not as thys e l f alone, -.But as the meaning of a l l things that are; A breathless wonder, shadowing f o r t h afar Some heavenly s o l s t i c e , hushed, and halcyon; Whose unstirred l i p s are music's v i s i b l e tone; Whose eyes the sun-gate of the soul unbar, Being of i t s farthest f i r e s oracular; — The evident heart of a l l things sown and mown." And i n True Woman-Herself, he speaks of the beloved as the embodiment of a l l that i s b e a u t i f u l and mysterious i n nature: "To be a sweetness more desired than Spring; .  • A bo d i l y beauty more acceptable Than the wild rose-tree's arch that crowns the f e l l ; To be an essence more environing Than wine's drained juice; a music ravishing More than the passionate pulse of Philomel To be a l l t h i s 'neath one" soft bosom's swell That i s the flower of life:-how strange a thing I -68-How strange to be what man oan know But as a sacred secret I Heaven's own screen Hides her soul's purest depth and l o v e l i e s t glow; Closely withheld as a l l things most unseen,— The wave-bowe red p e a r l , — t h e heart-shaped seal of green That flecks the snowdrop underneath the snow." But we may notice that there i s a difference i n the i d e a l i z i n g of the two poets. To Dante, Beatrice, through her goodness and beauty, becomes almost a s a i n t — a miracle he c a l l s her; that i s , a contradiction of the laws of nature. But when Rossetti i d e a l i z e s h i s beloved he describes her not as a contradiction of nature, but as the supreme expression of i t s beauty and mystery; a thing almost super-human but not super-natural. It i s s t i l l i d e a l i z a t i o n but with the d i f f e r -ence which we might expect to fi n d between a mind of the thirteenth century and one of the nineteenth. The former, with i t s li m i t e d knowledge of the universe and i t s workings, regards the wonderful and inexplicable as a contradiction to or a breaking of natural laws; the l a t t e r , in the li g h t of s c i e n t i f i c research, sees such phenomena as a perfect and complete ful f i l m e n t of such laws; for what exists i n nature i s quite as wonderful as anything that can exi s t outside of nature. This attitude i s exemplified by the quotations already given from the sonnets Heart's Compass and True Woman— Herself. In only a few instances do we find the beloved idealized i n the s t r i c t l y Dantesque s p i r i t — t h a t i s , regarded as a being almost angelic. One such occurs i n the sonnet ~63~ Love's Testament i n which the eyes of the lady are credited with a divine power sim i l a r to that by which, as Dante t e l l s us," C h r i s t rescued cer t a i n souls from H e l l ; "0 what from thee the grace, to me the prize, And what to Love the glory,--when the whole Of the deep s t a i r thou, treads't to the dim shoal And weary water of the place of sighs, And there dost work deliverance, as thine eyes Draw1up my prisoned s p i r i t to thy soul." It i s i n t e r e s t i n g to find a tinge of difference even between Dante's description of Beatrice i n Heaven and Rossetti's picture of the Blessed Damozel—perhaps his most purely Dantesque creation. Both women are represented as angels; but examine the two descriptions. Dante says i n one place : "I was among the tr i b e Who rest suspended, when a dame, so blest And lovely, I besought her to command, Call'd me; her eyes were brighter than the star Of day; and she, with gentle voice and soft, A n g e l i c a l l y turned, her speech address'd;" Here much i s suggested but only two d e f i n i t e physical c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s named—her eyes and voice ; and we r e a l l y f e e l that Beatrice i s a s p i r i t . How contrast this with the two verses from the Blessed Damozel already quoted. The d i f f e r -ence i s obvious. The Damozel, although an angel, s t i l l retains the att r i b u t e s of a woman. It is as i f the soul, shadowy to Dante, took d e f i n i t e human shape to Rossetti and expressed i t s heavenly beauty i n earthly form. Indeed, this p a r t i c u l a r instance of i d e a l i z a t i o n of the beloved i l l u s t r a t e s e x c e l l e n t l y the peculiar mixture of the physical and the s p i r i t u a l , the seen and the unseen, so ch a r a c t e r i s t i c of Rossetti» And t h i s leads us on to the consideration of our next p o i n t — t h a t i d e a l i z a t i o n of love which Rossetti likewise derives from Dante and treats with the same s l i g h t l y different outlook which we perceived i n h i s i d e a l i z a t i o n of the beloved. Let us consider f i r s t the manner i n which Dante idealised his love for Beatrice, Since, as has been shown, he regards her almost as a divine being, i t i s natural that his love f o r her should approach adoration, the emotion of the worshipper rather than that of the lover. It i s c l e a r l y her beauty of body as well as of soul which appealed to him i n the f i r s t p l a c e — h e speaks of her constantly as a "most gracious creature" and frequently r e f e r s to her l o v e l i n e s s — b u t he i s content to adore her from afar as he might a saint enshrined i n a church window, u n t i l f i n a l l y i t i s a union of souls which he dreams of, to the almost complete exclusion of any physical or passionate element. In proof of this I quote the closing sentences of the Yi t a Nuova ; "Wherefore i f i t be his pleasure through whom i s the l i f e of a l l things, that my l i f e continue with me a few years, i t i s my hope that I s h a l l yet write con-cerning her what hath not before been written of any woman. After the which, may i t seem good unto him who i s the Master of Grace, that my s p i r i t should go hence to behold the glory -65* of i t s lady: to wit, of that biassed Beatrice who now gazeth continually on his countenance qui est per omnia saecula benedictua." This i s no ordinary human passion but love p u r i f i e d by suffering into the highest form of s p i r i t u a l emotion. How l e t us look at Rossetti's i d e a l i z a t i o n of love. To him too i t i s a union o f soul with soul—"my soul's b i r t h -p a r tner" 1"—he c a l l s his beloved; and i n another place exclaims, "And my soul only sees thy soul i t s own" 2 ,—But this mystic s p i r i t u a l union i s achieved through the physical with which i t i s inex t r i c a b l y mingled; i t i s a result not of a suppression of the physical but of a f u l f i l m e n t . And again, as i n the i d e a l i z a t i o n of the beloved, we are conscious of the difference between the outlook of the thirteenth century and that of the nineteenth. To the one, s t i l l influenced by the aesoetioism of many holy men, the highest form of l i f e and love i s to be achieved by the complete suppression of the physical; to the other, by means of the doctrines of c l a s s i c a l writers combined with recent s c i e n t i f i c research, i t has begun to be evident that no side of human nature can be safely ignored and that the highest love i s that which s a t i s f i e s 1. Rossetti, D.G., "The Birth-Bond", Poetical Works, (P.P.Collier and Son, New York, 1902), p. TBT. ! 2. Rossetti, D.G., "lovesight", Poetical Works, (P. P. C o l l i e r and Son, New York, 1902), p. 181. -66-both the s p i r i t u a l and the p h y s i c a l . Thus we f i n d that Rossetti i d e n t i f i e s his love of his lady with his love of God, and so mingles h i s ideas of the union of the f l e s h and the union of souls, that i t i s a l i t t l e hard at times to arrive at his exact meaning, as i n the following l i n e s : "Thy soul I know not from thy body, nor - Thee from myself, neither our love from God." S i m i l a r l y i n The P o r t r a i t when his soul i s f i n a l l y united with h i s lady's i t "knows the silence there f o r God". In The Stream" s Secret, too, t h i s s p i r i t u a l union i s emphasized. After dealing with the physical aspect of his love he says: "Yet most with the sweet soul .Shall love's espousals then be k n i t . " While i n Love-Lily he speaks of h i s lady as one "Whose speech Truth knows not from her thought . Nor Love her body from her soul." Consider too the sonnet Love and Worship i n which two radiant figures appear to the poet and his lady. She says to them: "Thou art Passion of Love, And t h i s Love' s Worship ; both he plights to me." Again we see that an equal importance i s attached to the two sides of man's nature. In short then we may say that Dante influences Rossetti i n the i d e a l i z a t i o n of love, but that whereas Dante arrives at a s p i r i t u a l emotion by the suppression of the 1. Rossetti, D.G., "Heart's Hope", Poetical Works, (P.P. C o l l i e r and Son, Hew York, 1902), p. 181. -67-physical, Rossetti does so by i t s expression. Closely a l l i e d to Dante's i d e a l i z a t i o n of his lady and" of love i s his i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of the beloved with love i t s e l f . This is to be found i n several places i n the V i t a Nuova. After the poet had seen Beatrice with another lady named Joan, Love explains to him why the second lady i s so c a l l e d . And then he adds, "He who should enquire d e l i c a t e l y touching t h i s matter, eould not but c a l l Beatrice by mine own name, which i s to say, Love; beholding her so like unto me." And i n the sonnet following we f i n d t he se l i n e s ; "And even as my memory speaketh t h i s , , Love spake i t them: 'The f i r s t i s christen'd Spring; The second Love, she i s so l i k e to me." Also i n the poem beginning "Ladies who have intelligence i n Love" t h i s passage occurs: "And i n her smile Love's image you may see, .Whence none can gaze upon her steadfastly." We are j u s t i f i e d i n saying, then, that Dante at times regards Beatrice as something very c l o s e l y a l l i e d to Love himself. The same thought i s to be found i n Rossetti. In Heart's Compass, af t e r describing his beloved, he says: "Even such Love i s ; and i s not thy name Love?" While i n Hope Overtaken we find t h i s : "0 Hope of mine whose eyes are l i v i n g love, ' .No eyas but hers,--0 Love and Hope the same!" And i n True Woman—Her Love: "She loves him; for her i n f i n i t e soul i s Love." ~68~ P r a o t i o a l l y the same idea i s found i n Venus V i o t r i x when we remember that Yenus was the godess of Love; "Then Love breaths low the sweetest of thy names; And Venus v i e t r i x to my heart doth bring Herself, the Helen of her guerdoning." S t i l l another phase of Dante's influence on Rossetti i s to be found i n the v i s i o n s of l i f e and love and death personified which occur so frequently i n both writers. There i s , for example, Dante's famous dream in the Vita Nuova; "And betaking me to the loneliness of mine own room, I f e l l to thinking of t h i s most courteous lady, thinking of whom I was overtaken by a pleasant slumber, wherein a marvelous v i s i o n was presented for me; for there appeared to be i n my room a mist of the colour of f i r e within the which I discerned the figure of a lord of t e r r i b l e aspect to such as should gaze upon him, but who seemed therewithal to rejoice inwardly that i t was a marvel to see. Speaking he said many things, among the which I could understand but few, and of these, t h i s ; 'Ego dominus tuns', In his arms i t seemed that a person was sleeping, covered only with a blood-coloured c l o t h ; upon whom looking very a t t e n t i v e l y , I knew that i t was the lady of the salutation who had deigned the day before to salute me. And he who held her held also i n h i s hand a thing that was burning in flames; and he said to me, 1 Vide cor tuum'. But when he had remained with me a l i t t l e while, I thought that he set himself to awaken her that slept; after the which he made her -69-eat that thing which flamed i n his hand; and she ate as one fearing. Then, having waited a space, a l l his joy was turned info most h i t t e r weeping; and as he wept he gathered the lady into h i s arms, and i t seemed to me that he went with her up towards heaven; whereupon such a great anguish came upon me that my l i g h t slumber could not endure through i t , but was suddenly broken." On another occasion Dante t e l l s us that Love appeared to him as a t r a v e l l e r , advising him to take another lady as a protection against the discovery of his a f f e c t i o n for Beatrice. Again Love took the likeness of a youth " i n very white raiment, who kept his eyes fixed on me i n deep thought." 1 . Such passages and the famous v i s i o n of the death of Beatrice, which Dante saw i n a trance during his sickness, appear to have taken a strong hold upon Rossetti's imagination. Again and again, especially i n the sonnets of the House of L i f e , we f i n d what can only be considered as shadows of Dante's v i s i o n s . The entire sonnet Death-in-Love i s an example of t h i s : "There came an image i n L i f e ' s retinue . That had Love's wings and bore his gonfalon: Pair was the web and nobly wrought thereon, 0 soul-sequestered face, thy form and hue I Bewildering sounds, such as spring wakens to Shook i n i t s f o l d s ; and through my heart i t s power Sped trackless as the immemorable hour When b i r t h ' s dark portal groaned and a l l was new. 1. Dante, A l i g h i e r i , op. c i t . p. 43. -70-But a veiled woman followed, and she caught The banner round i t s s t a f f , to f u r l and c l i n g — Then plucked a feather from the bearer's wing, And held i t to his l i p s that s t i r r e d i t not, And said to me, 'Behold, there i s no breath: I and this Love are one, and I am Death'." It Is not that Rossetti has here consciously imitated Dante, but simply that the great I t a l i a n ' s mode of thought and expression have so pervaded the mind of the Englishman that he na t u r a l l y speaks i n the same idiom.. In the Willowwood sonnets we f e e l again that the Love who sweeps the waters with his wing-feathers to conjure up the face of the beloved i s the same who, as a youth i n white raiment, commanded Dante to write i n praise of Beatrice, "I sat with love upon a woodside well, .. Leaning across the water, I and he; Nor ever did he speak or look at me, But touched his l u t e , wherein was audible The c e r t a i n secret thing he had to t e l l : Only our mirrored eyes met s i l e n t l y In the low wave; and that sound came to be .. The passionate voice I knew; and my tears f e l l . " * But perhaps the most Dantesque v i s i o n of a l l i s that i n Passion and .Worship where : "One flame winged brought a white winged harp player . Even where my lady and I lay a l l alone; Saying: 'Behold, t h i s minstrel i s unknown; Bid him depart, f o r I am minstrel here; Only my strains are to Love's dear one's dear'." This passage seems almost to combine two of Dante's visions, In one of which Love appeared in a flame-coloured mist, i n the 1. Rossetti, D.G., "Willowwood" I, P o e t i c a l Works, (P.P. C o l l i e r and Son, New York, 1902), p. 204. -71-other, clothed i n white. • Like the other examples, i t i s clear evidence of how strongly Rossetti was influenced by Dante i n respect of such visions, Dante's separation from Beatrice by death seems also to have impressed Rossetti very greatly and i n his poetry the idea of the union of parted lovers i n some future existence i s almost as important a theme as i t i s i n Dante. It receives i t s f u l l e s t treatment i n The Blessed Damozel which was com-posed when Rossetti was only nineteen years of age and had just been steeping himseIf i n the writings of Dante. As has been previously mentioned, this poem i s attributed by i t s author to an idea derived from Poe's The Raven. But i f the i n s p i r a t i o n came from Poe, the heaven described surely comes from Dante. Among numerous points which might be mentioned as indicative of i t s source, the following are worthy of notice: It was ten years after the death of Beatrice that Dante had his marvelous v i s i o n described in the Divine Comedy; in this poem the maiden has been dead for the same length of time. As Rossetti expresses i t : "Herseemed she scarce had been a day , One of God's choristers; The wonder was not yet quite gone Prom that s t i l l look of hers; A l b e i t , to them she l e f t , her day Had counted as ten years." In the second place, the medieval town of Dis described in the eighth canto of H e l l , with i t s towers, i t s moats, and iron walls, seems possibly the source of Rossetti's l i n e s concern--72-ing "the rampart of God's house—By God b u i l t over the sheer depth the which i s space begun". Moreover,, the Heaven of Dante, removed from earth by an immeasurable distance i s . a l s o the Heaven of Rossetti. In speaking of God's house he says : " I t l i e s i n Heaven, across the flood .. Of ether, as. a bridge Beneath, the tides of day and night With flame and darkness ridge rJ?he void, as low as where t h i s earth Spins l i k e a f r e t f u l midge." And the maiden saw that "the curled moon Was l i k e a l i t t l e feather F l u t t e r i n g far down the gul f . " The souls that "mounting up to God went by her l i k e thin flames" are surely reminiscent of Dante's s p i r i t s of dazzling l i g h t that shone l i k e many coloured jewels. The "deep wells of l i g h t " must also have been suggested by Dante's glowing Paradise—"mystic, wonderful"; and the stream to which the two w i l l "step down and bathe there i n God's sight" may have i t s or i g i n i n the passage of the Paradise concerning light flowing i n the likeness of a r i v e r "from whose amber-seeming waves flashed up effulgence as they glided on twixt banks on either side, painted with spring, incredible how f a i r , " 1 " The " l i v i n g mystic tree" and the "Lady Mary" surrounded by her court of ladies may likewise be traced to Dante's heavenly v i s i o n . While the songs of the angels with their citherns and 1. Dante, A l i g h i e r i , "Paradiso" Canto XXX, "Divine Comedy", Poems of Dante, (P.P.Collier and Sons, New York, 1902),.p. 468. ~~ -73-c i t o l e s , undoubtedly have the i r o r i g i n i n Dante's hosts of souls chanting praises to their creator* Even the symbolic ro'se and l i l i e s mentioned i n connection with the Blessed Damozel are to be found i n Dante; for, says Beatrice, speaking of the v i r g i n and the Apostles• "Here i s the rose, wherein the word divine was made incarnate; and here the l i l i e s by whose odour Jen own the way of l i f e was followed." In drawing such p a r a l l e l s , however, we should remember that behind both poets were the Apocrypha and the Scriptures, e s p e c i a l l y Revelations. It i s almost impossible to say just how much these influenced Rossetti d i r e c t l y and how much he interpreted them through the writings of Dante. But though the exact extent of Dante's influence i n thi s poem cannot be determined, i t i s clear from the foregoing discussion, that he was at least a powerful factor i n the shaping of Rossetti's imaginative experience. It i s interesting to notice i n this connection that insistence on the physical and human which I have formerly noted as d i f f e r e n t i a t i n g Rossetti's g l o r i f i c a t i o n of love from that of Dante. The Paradise of the l a t t e r i s a purely s p i r i t u a l region f i l i e d with glowing light and sound and the beings who inhabit i t are e t h e r i a l , sexless creatures of f i e r y b r i l l i a n c e . But the Blessed Damozel i s s t i l l a woman— 1. Dante, A l i g h i e r i , op. c i t , , "Paradiso", Canto XVIII, p. 436. -74-"the hair that lay along her "back was yellow l i k e ripe corn," and as she stoops earthward "her bosom must have made the "bar she leaned on warm." Nor does divine love "banish the old love known on earth; "Around her, lovers newly mat "Mid deathless love's acclaims, Spoke evermore among themselves Their he art-remembered names." Heavenly joys, moreover, do not e n t i r e l y silence human longing and loneliness, for when the maiden has dreamed of the happy time when she and her lover w i l l he forever together, the "angels in strong l e v e l f l i g h t " somehow cease to s a t i s f y her "And then she cast har arms along _ The golden b a r r i e r s , And l a i d her face between her hands And wept. (I heard har tears.)" A l l t h i s i s a l i e n to the s p i r i t of Dante, whose Heaven i s a place of complete s p i r i t u a l joy. Nor would Beatrice have prayed "Only to l i v e as once on earth . With Love; only to be As then awhile, forever now Together, I and he." Beatrice, seated near the lady Mary, i s s t i l l f a r above her lover. But t h i s i s Dante's heaven humanized, i t s souls men and women instead of b e a t i f i e d s p i r i t s . And one i s tempted to think that although Dante's Paradise i s a marvelous creation of the imagination as a place of purely s p i r i t u a l beauty and love, the Heaven of Rossetti i s rather more l i v e -able, One i s reminded of the song i n which a l i t t l e g i r l says -76-that she has never heard of birds and flowers i n Paradise and i s sure she would get t i r e d of playing on a golden l y r e , so when she gets there she intends to plant some hollyhocks; "And soon as they begin to grow . I ' l l tend them with a golden hoe, And as the limbs begin to climb The birds w i l l come at blossom-time. I f Gabriel should pass my way I'm c e r t a i n he'd s i t down and stay," Rossetti has, f i g u r a t i v e l y , planted hollyhocks and other homely garden flowers in the shining f i e l d s of Dante's Paradise and the r e s u l t i n g bower i s one where any earth-sick s p i r i t would be glad to " s i t down and stay," This theme,—the reunion of parted l o v e r s , — i s dealt with much less elaborately i n Rossetti's other poems. In The P o r t r a i t , written, probably, not long after The Blessed Damozel, i t i s treated i n an almost purely Dantesque s p i r i t with the physioal element e n t i r e l y lacking: "Even so, where Heaven holds breath and hears . The beating heart of Love's own b r e a s t ; — Where round the secret of a l l spheres A l l angels lay t h e i r wings to r e s t , — How s h a l l my soul stand rapt and awed. When, by the new b i r t h born abroad Throughout the music of the suns, It enters i n her soul at once And knows the silence there for God." This passage must have been inspired by Dante and h i s glimpse of the great mystery of the Holy T r i n i t y " i n i t s great abyss clear and l o f t y " . In The S t a f f and Scrip the theme i s again used, t h i s time with the touch of materialism noticed i n The Blessed Damozel: - 7 6 -"The l i s t s are set i n Heaven today, . The bright pavilions shine; Pair hangs thy s h i e l d , and none gainsay The trumpet's sound i n sign That she i s thine." It i s again Dante, but Dante metamorphosed to f i t a tale, of love and s a c r i f i c e i n the days of c h i v a l r y . Again in Rose Mary we find an expression of the same idea and a d i s t i n c t echo of Dante ; "Thee, true soul, s h a l l thy truth prefer k To blessed Mary's rose-bower-Warmed and l i t i s thy place afar With guerdon-fires of the sweet Love-star Where hearts of steadfast lovers are:" It i s rather pathetic to notice, here and there, Rossetti with the m a t e r i a l i s t i c mind of the nineteenth century wishing to believe i n such future happiness and yet doubting i t s p o s s i b i l i t y . He seems to look back with regret at Dante's unquestioning f a i t h ; but for himself, i n some moods at least, there can be no certainty, "Cling heart to heart; nor of t h i s hour demand , Whether i n very truth, when we are dead, Our Heart's s h a l l wake to know Love's golden head; Sole sunshine of the imperishable land; Or but discern, through night's unfeatured scope, Scorn-fired at length the i l l u s i v e eyes of Hope. 1 , 1 8 In The Bower we find * "Peace, peace I such a small lamp illumes, on this highway, So dimly so few steps in front of my f e e t , — Yet shows me that her way i s parted from my way— Out of sight, beyond l i g h t , at what goal may we meet?" 1. Rossetti, D.G., "Love and Hope", Poetical Works, (P.F.Collier and Son, New York, 1902), p.~2"01. In Spheral Change he exclaims; "0 nearest, furthest?. Can there be . At length some hard-earned, heart-won home, Where,—exile changed for sanctuary— Our l o t may f i l l indeed i t s sum, And you may wait and I may come?" And i n Insomnia; "Is there a home where heavy earth ... Melts to bright a i r that breathes no pain, Where water leaves no t h i r s t again And springing f i r e i s Love's new b i r t h ? " The same uncertainty, the doubt which i s yet mingled with hope i s found i n the sonnet Untimely written i n memory of Oliver Mad ox Brown: "A mist has r i s e n ; we see the youth no more; , Doesjhe see on and s t r i v e on? And may we Late-tottering world-worn hence, f i n d h i s to be The young strong hand which helps us up that shore? Or,, echoing the No more with Nevermore, Must night be ours and his? We hope; and he?" When we consider the story of Rossetti's l i f e i t i s perhaps natural that t h i s idea of the f i n a l union of parted souls should be such an outstanding element In his poetry. The untimely death of his wife affected him very strongly; and the history of Dante and Beatrice, which he loved so dearly, turned his mind i n the same di r e c t i o n even before a similar g r i e f entered his own l i f e . It i s , however, a l i t t l e remarkable that his love story should so c l o s e l y have pa r a l l e l e d that of Dante, and that i n The Blessed Damozel and The P o r t r a i t he should have dealt so sympathetically with the very sorrow which was eventually to overtake him. It almost seemed that the s p i r i t of Dante had f a l l e n upon him with the -78-name so that the sorrow and glory of love inspired the Vi c t o r i a n along the same li n e s as they did the medieval Dante, Dahte and B e a t r i c e — R o s s e t t i and E l i z a b e t h — t h e last two names are linked as firmly as the f i r s t two. Rossetti himself seems to f e e l something of t h i s when he addresses his father i n Pant i s .. Tenebrae ; "And didst thou know indeed when at the font , Together with thy name thou gav'st me h i s ; That also on thy son must Beatrice Pecline her eyes according to her wont, Accepting me to be of those that haunt The vale of magical dark mysteries Where to the h i l l s her poet's foot-track l i e s And wisdom's l i v i n g fountain to his chaunt Trembles i n music?" Whatever the answer, i t i s certa i n that not only has Rossetti written of the f i n a l union of lovers in the s p i r i t of Pant a, but he has given to the theme of love a place of such importance as perhaps only his great name sale e has done. This c h a r a c t e r i s t i c , be i t noted, i s t y p i c a l l y I t a l i a n : To the Frenchman love i s a pastime—a gay a f f a i r as l i g h t and evanescent as the froth on a glass of his own champagne. To the Englishman i t i s a secret emotion which he does his best to hide and i s almost ashamed to confess; but to the I t a l i a n i t i s a triumph and a glory into which he throws himself with a l l the warmth of his southern nature. .Ho English poet at least has ever written of love as has Rossetti. Chaucer, understanding the conventions of Courtly Love, regarded i t with a wise smile of amused tolerance; to Shakespeare i t was only one emotion among others; nor did he consider the sorrows of "the lover sighing l i k e furnace with a woeful ballad made to 'his mistress 1 eyebrow" a subject of s u f f i c i e n t seriousness to constitute the main theme of any of his great tragedies; Milton was too engrossed with his great epic of the f a l l of man to give i t any consideration worth mentioning. During the Neo-Classical period i t was either ignored in the interest of "reason" or treated i n a purely a r t i f i c i a l manner. The Romantic Revival, when i t came, was more interested i n nature, the supernatural, and the gothic than in love. While of the l a t e r Romantics, Wordsworth devoted himself c h i e f l y to nature and her lessons, Coleridge e s p e c i a l l y to the weird and super-natural , Shelley to hi s "passion for reforming the world" and Keats.primarily to his search f o r beauty. Byron, to be sure, wrote of love but often i n a tone of satire and with an emphasis upon the purely sensuous which i s very different from the treatment of Dante or Rossetti. In short, i t i s only when we go back to the poetry of Dante and his contemporaries that we f i n d love given that position of supreme importance which i t occupies i n the work of Rossetti. It may, of course, be objected that the sonnet writers of the Elizabethan era were also much concerned with t h i s subject. But they treated i t with a graceful lightness and sometimes with a touch of humour that contrast markedly with the "high seriousness" of Dante and Rossetti. Says S i r P h i l l i p Sidney: "Ring out your b e l l s , l e t mourning shows be spread; For Love i s dead. A l l love is dead, infected With plague of deep d i s t a i n ; Worth, as not worth, rejected, And Faith, f a i r scorn doth gain. From so ungrateful fancy, From such a female frenzy, From men that use men thus, Good l o r d , d e l i v e r usl"1 • This verse, with i t s word play and i t s parody i s surely written i n no very serious tone. Yet i t i s t y p i c a l of much of the love poetry of the period. Dante's devotion to Beatrice, however, was the ce n t r a l fact of his l i f e ; a l l his other interests revolved about i t and we re dependent upon i t . As he-says after f i r s t meeting her: "I say that from that time forward, love quite govaSrned my soul; which was immediately espoused to him, and with so safe and undisputed a lordship (by virtue of strong imagination) that I had nothing l e f t for i t but to do a l l his bidding c o n t i n u a l l y . " 2 * Love i s his lord and master and forms the ch i e f interest and motive power i n his l i f e and i n the l i v e s of many men who liv e d i n his day. This attitude we fin d f a i t h f u l l y reflected in Rossetti's poetry. Instead of attempting to hide his love, as the average Englishman might do, or speaking of i t i n veiled and s t i l t e d phrases, as the average Victorian would almost 1. Sidney, S i r P h i l l i p , "Ring Out Your B e l l s " , A Pageant  of Elizabethan Poetry, (Blackie and Sons, limited, London, n.d. ), p. 22,4. 2. Dante, A l i g h i e r i , "Vita Nuova", translation of Rossetti, D.G., Collected Works, ( E l l i s and Elvey, London, 1890), v o l . I, p. 31. -81-c e r t a i n l y have done, he passionately proclaims i t s sovereignty with complete frankness. The importance he attaches to i t i s shown by the fact that of the one hundred and one sonnets of the House of L i f e . the f i r s t f i f t y - n i n e deal exclusively with love. His own expression of i t s place i n l i f e i s found i n the sonnet Love Enthroned: "I marked a l l kindred powers the heart finds f a i r : , Truth, with awed l i p s ; and Hope, with eyes upcast; And Fame, whose loud wings fan the ashen Past To signal f i r e s , oblivion's f l i g h t to scare; And Youth, with s t i l l some single golden hair Unto h i s shoulder c l i n g i n g , since the l a s t Embrace, wherein two sweet arms held him fa s t ; And L i f e , s t i l l wreathing flowers f o r Death to wear. Love's throne was not with these; but f a r above A l l .passionate wind of welcome and farewell He sat i n breathless bowers they dream not of; Though Truth foreknow Love's heart, and Hope f o r e t e l l , And Fame be for Love's sake desirable, And Youth be dear and L i f e be sweet to Love." To t h i s doctrine he remained true throughout his l i f e , for the theme of the lordship of love i s found through a l l his work. He i s undoubtedly most worthy to be termed the love poet supreme of the. Victorian Period. This being so, i t was quite natural that much of his work should have seemed strange, not to say actually shocking, to a seotion of the P h i l l i s t i n e public who so greatly admired the moralizing of Ruskin and the "purity" of Tennyson's poetry. It i s l i t t l e wonder that he calle d forth such an indignant and h o s t i l e c r i t i c i s m as that expressed i n Buchanan's Fleshly School of Poetry. In our own day i t i s -82-almost impossible to appreciate the sensation which some of his poems must have made. Today love i s the theme by far the most frequently employed by almost a l l writers; and modern movies and popular songs seem, in one way, to carry on the t r a d i t i o n of the I t a l i a n sonneteers and Rossetti i n that they are concerned with t h i s subject p r a c t i c a l l y to the exclusion of a l l others. The mere r e c o l l e c t i o n of a few t i t l e s indicates t h i s fact 1—"One Night of Love", "Love i n Bloom", "Song of Love", "Break of Hearts", "Love Me Forever". And c e r t a i n l y the theme i s treated with the most complete frank-ness. But at the time when Rossetti was writing such things were s t i l l safe i n the sealed seed pot of the future and the Vi c t o r i a n present was in c l i n e d to mingle condemnation of his frank discussion of love in a l l i t s phases with i t s praise of his many very evident beauties. From the foregoing discussion i t i s clear that the influence of Dante on the work of Rossetti i s very strong; we might indeed be j u s t i f i e d i n concluding that i t i s quite the most important single element to be discovered i n his poetry. It i s not confined to h a l f a dozen poems, but finds expression and sounds echoes throughout the whole body of Rossetti's work. It does not l i m i t i t s influence to a single line of thought, but colours the poet's entire mental outlook so that i n many respects Rossetti seems another Dante expressing in a modern world the ideas and ideals of the medieval poet, -83 influenced to an extent by the thought of his day, i t i s true, but s t i l l imbued throughout with the s p i r i t of the Past. Small wonder then that he took l i t t l e interest i n p o l i t i c s or international a f f a i r s ; his heart and mind inhabited a world of yesterday with Dante and h i s visions, with the gentle Beatrice, and the " l a d i e s who have int e l l i g e n c e i n love". -84-GHAPTER V TREATMENT OF CHIVALRY Ch i v a l r y — t h e t r a d i t i o n s and customs of knighthood — was another aspect of medievalism which l e f t a strong impression upon Rossetti's mind and work. He delighted i n creating a picture of the i d e a l medieval knight, fearless and l o y a l , who, splendid i n the g l i t t e r of armour and flaunting of plumes, ri d e s forth to serve his lady and his king. As we have already noted, tales of' knightly adventure appealed to him from childhood, and i t i s therefore not surprising that such stories should very frequently find an echo i n h i s own work. Of his eight narrative poems, six are tales of c h i v a l r y — s t o r i e s of lovely ladies and "brave men who f i g h t and love, and revenge themselves and s a c r i f i c e themselves accord-ing to the truest t r a d i t i o n s of knighthood. There i s l i t t l e r e a l i t y about them, but they are gallant figures b r i l l i a n t l y conceived in a b e a u t i f u l old world v i s i o n . And apparently they are as powerless to enter r e a l l i f e as any other dream figures, f o r with one or two exceptions we f i n d a l l the r e f e r -ences to chivalry contained i n these few poems. One such exception, of course , the convention of Courtly Love, pervades almost the whole body of Rossetti' s work. This subject has been discussed i n the section concerning the influence of Dante and w i l l be considered later i n connection with the poems of c h i v a l r y . -85-The other aspects of ch i v a l r y are, as already stated, confined to about half a dozen poems, which, however, are numbered among his most important compositions,, In order to make my references c l e a r , i t i s worth while, perhaps, to give a b r i e f summary of each before considering the c h i v a l r i c elements to be found i n them. There i s f i r s t , the long, incomplete poem, The Bride's Prelude. O r i g i n a l l y named Bride  Chamber Talk, i t was begun, at quite an early date, but never f i n i s h e d . It i s a tale of i l l i c i t love between Aloyse, a lady of noble family, and Ursoelyn, who l i v e s at the castle and of whom she says, "He was akin to us i n part, and bore our shield, but barred athwart." Reverses of fortune come upon the family, he deserts them. But on the journey to a place of safety, Aloyse, hearing of her lover's f a l s i t y , t e l l s her secret to her brothers almost without knowing what she i s doing* They threaten her with death, but she i s saved by her father; then when her baby i s born it i s taken from her while she i s s t i l l unconscious, and the utmost secrecy i s imposed on those who know her history. l a t e r her younger s i s t e r returns from the convent; and here the poem breaks o f f . But as i t begins with the preparations for the marriage of Aloyse to her former lover whom she now hates, we are l e f t with at least a hint of the working out of the t a l e . Next i s the wonderful imitation b a l l a d , Sister Helen. Here we have the weird tale of a g i r l deserted by her -86^ knightly lover and the t e r r i b l e revenge of her "Hate born of Love." I t i s told e n t i r e l y by the conversation between the g i r l and her l i t t l e brother, whose utter innocence serves to accentuate the g r i e f and horror of the story. Helen, on the marriage day of her former lover to another woman, determines to destroy him by melting his waxen image over a slow f i r e . The poem opens with the c h i l d l i k e question of the l i t t l e boy; '"Why did you melt your waxen man, s i s t e r Helen? . Today i s the t h i r d since you began'. 'The time was long, yet the time ran, l i t t l e Brother' (0 Mother, Mary Mother, Three days today, between H e l l and Heaven )." After describing how the figure of wax has dropped away " l i k e dead f o l k " , the boy goes out to play on the balcony, whence he soon sees three horsemen approaching. The f i r s t i s Keith of Eastholm come to plead for the l i f e of his brother who l i e s dying; but the g i r l gives him an answer of cold scorn; "'The wind i s loud but I hear him cry, Sist e r Helen, That Keith of EWern's l i k e to die.' And he and thou and thou and I, L i t t l e brother.' (0 Mother, Mary Mother And they and we, between H e l l and HeavenI)" Then comes Keith of Westholme with the message that his brother continually c r i e s to see her before he dies. But she answers him b i t t e r l y that "In a l l that his soul sees, there am I". Next rides the father, begging her to forgive his son that h i s soul may l i v e though his body die, and she r e p l i e s "Eire cannot slay i t , i t s h a l l thrive." F i n a l l y the dying man's bride comes to plead for mercy, but "she may not speak, she sinks in a swoon" and they catch her to a saddle-bow and ride s i l e n t l y away as the t o l l i n g of a b e l l i s born on the c h i l l of the winter wind. And so Helen achieves her revenge although her soul i s lost with that of her lover: "'Ah', what white thing at the door has crossed, . • : S i s t e r Helen, Ah! what i s t h i s that sighs i n the fros t ? ' 'A soul that's l o s t as mine is' l o s t , l i t t l e Brother. ' (0 Mother, Mary Mother Lost, l o s t , a l l l o s t between H e l l and Heaven' )." The next poem, The St a f f and Scrip has the source of i t s story i n the Gesta Romanorum, as William Rossetti t e l l s us, and seems to have been composed about 1853. It is the tale of a knight who, returning as a pilg r i m from the Holy Land, finds the realm of a ce r t a i n Queen Blanchelys harried by the wicked Puke Luke. He goes to see the Queen and as he looks at her •". . . . he knew that he saw weep -Each night through every dream The Queen's own face, confused i n sleep With visages supreme, Not known to him." He offers to go to fight f o r her, but leaves with one of her women his s t a f f and sc r i p . The Queen sends him a sword, banner and shield, and a l l the next day waits with her maidens for news of the battle. Whan messengers come at last they bring with them her knight lying l i f e l e ss on the shield, with the broken sword i n his hand, and the bloodied banner across his mouth. Then the maidens give the Queen the s t a f f and scrip which he had l e f t for her. Through a l l her l i f e they -88-hang above her bed and are f i n a l l y buried with her when she dies. The poem ends with the union of the lovers i n a beautiful medieval paradise where the knight wins her in a tournament. "The l i s t s are set i n Heaven today, ", The bright pavilion's shine; Fair hangs thy shield, and none gainsay The trumpefs sound in sign That she i s thine." In Rose Mary we find a tale of magio and of sin and i t s punishment. Rose Mary, three days before her wedding, i s commanded by her mother to gaze into the B e r y l stone and discover what dangers w i l l threaten her knight, S i r James of Heronhaye, as he rides to seek shrift before h i s marriage. How the Beryl stone had a special condition attached to i t s reading • "Hone sees here but the pure alone, •And ohi ' , she said, 'what rose may be In Mary's bower more pure to see Than my own sweet maiden Rose Mary?'." But alas, the g i r l and her lover have already sinned together So when she gazes into the stone , although she believes she i s seeing clearly, the places of danger are reversed from their actual positions. So when the knight rides forth, he i unexpectedly attacked and k i l l e d by h i s enemy the Warden of Holycleugh. By t h i s the mother learns of her daughter's si n ; but both mother and daughter s t i l l believe the knight to be f a i t h f u l to his love. As he l i e s in state i n the chapel, how ever, the mother discovers i n his breast a packet containing -89-a folded paper wound around with a tress of golden hair. And "Even as she looked, she saw again The dark-haired faoe in i t s swoon of pain; It seemed a snake with a golden sheath Crept near, as a slow flame f l i o k e r e t h , And stung her daughter's heart to death." In the paper i s a note revealing the faet that Sir James was i n love with the s i s t e r of his enemy. Only when she reads i t does the lady realize the f u l l extent of his perfidy. "She l i f t e d the lock of gleaming hair .And smote the l i p s and l e f t i t there. •Here i s gold that H e l l s h a l l take for thy t o i l l F u l l well thy treason has found i t s goal, • 0 thou dead body and damned s o u l ! " 1 But Rose Mary, aroused from her swoon, finds the door of a secret stairway open and ascends i t , scarcely knowing yet what she does. It leads to the hiding place of the B e r y l — a marvelous chapel where upon an a l t e r " i n a c o i l i n g serpent's l i f e - l i k e n e s s " , "twixt. the wings of a sculptured beast unknown, Rose Mary saw the Beryl stone." As she gazed at the stone, i t seemed to her that the e v i l s p i r i t s i n i t were brought there by her s i n ; that i t was her task to drive them out, and that i n so doing she might f i n d her lover again. So seizing her father's sword which hung there she struck the stone, cleaving i t to the heart. There was a crash and when silence f e l l again Rose Mary lay l i f e l e s s beside the shattered stone. But the soft voice of the good s p i r i t , banished by her s i n from the jewel,whispered s o f t l y : "Already thy heart remembreth ..No more his name thou soughtst in death : -30-For under a l l deeps, a l l heights above,— So wide the gulf in the midst thereof,— Are Hell of Treason and Heart of Love." "Thee, true soul, shall thy truth prefer ..To blessed Mary's rose-bower; Warmed and l i t i s thy place afar With the guerdon fires,of the sweet Love-star Where hearts of steadfast lovers are." After these two imaginative tales of romance and mystery, we come to a much more re a l i s t i c poem, The White Ship. It t e l l s the famous story of how the Prince of Wales and a l l his company set s a i l for England in the White Ship, and how, after a night of carousing, the ship was driven on the rocks and immediately went to pieces. The Prince with a few friends managed to escape in a small boat; but hearing his sister's cry, he insisted on turning back and was drowned in attempting to save her. And remarks the narrator, "He was a prince of lust and pride ; He showed no grace t i l l the hour he died" • • • • • • • • • "God only knows where his soul did wake, -But I saw him die for his sister's sake." The entire tale i s re la ted by Berold, a poor butcher of Rouen who is the sole surviver of the disaster. Rossetti, in one of his letters, says that the events a l l occur in one historical version of the tale or another, even to the golden haired boy in black velvet who breaks the news to King Henry and to the fact that the King never smiled again. The last poem in the group, The King's Tragedy, te l l s another well known story, this time from the pages of Scottish history—the tale of how Catherine Douglas, better - 9 1 -known as Kate Barlass, bravely "but vainly attempted to save King James from assassination, by thrusting her arm through the bo l t s of a door from which the bar had been removed by the f a i t h l e s s chamberlain, Robert Stuart. Again the tale i s told with the vividness and realism of an eye-witness. The t e r r i b l e scene of the assassination l i v e s before us i n a l l i t s horror as we share with Catherine her t e r r i b l e v i g i l when, although injured and suffering, she could not f a i n t • "And under the l i t t e r s and through the bed, - And within the presses a l l : The t r a i t o r s sought for the King and pierced The arras around the wall. And through the chamber they ramped and stormed Like l i o n s loose i n the l a i r , And scarce could trust t h e i r very eyes Por beholdJ no King was there." And then, when l e d to the hiding place by the trai t r o u s chamberlain they leap down to k i l l him, we watch the struggle i n t e r r o r , t i l l at last the King f a l l s "with sixteen wounds i n h i s breast". Nor can we soon forget the figure of the widowed Queen, watching day after day beside the body of her beloved l o r d as "Her p a l l o r changed to sight, .And the fr o s t grew to a furnace-flame That burnt her visage white." U n t i l at l a s t the t r a i t o r s had a l l paid for their crime and we hear her whisper i n his ear "with a strange, proud smile;-James, jame s they suffered mo re." "And "0 Jamesi 1 she said—'My James!' she s a i d , — -Alas for the woeful thing, .< -92-That a poet true and a f r i e n d of man In desperate days of bale and ban Should needs be born a Zing I'" Such, b r i e f l y , are the poems i n which R o s s e t t i t r e a t s the subject of c h i v a l r y . Their scope, be i t noted, i s wide. They include t a l e s of revenge, tales of magic, tales of heroic s a c r i f i c e , and stories from history. But a l l are concerned w i t h the l i v e s of knights and ladie s, and a l l show clear evidence of the influence of chivalry and i t s t r a d i t i o n s upon the mind and work of Rossetti. l e t us attempt now to d i s c o v e r what elements of chiv a l r y he has incorporated into these compositions. We n o t i c e f i r s t the frequent references to the picturesque i n the Middle Ages. The trappings o f knighthood, -the r i c h arm ou r, the gay plumes and f l u t t e r i n g banners,— appealed s t r o n g l y to R o s s e t t i ' s sense of beauty. So we are t o l d that K e i t h of Eastholm i n S i s t e r Helen r i d e s a white horse, f o r the g i r l ' s brother sees a "white plume on the b l a s t " ; and when Keith of West holm arrives the c h i l d cries that he knows "the white plume on the b l a s t " . The p i l g r i m knight i n The S t a f f and Scrip, we are informed, wore i n t o battle the Queen's three g i f t s — " a sharp sword, whose belt about his body there as sweet as her own arms he f e l t " , "a green banner wrought with one white l i l y stem", and a white shield whereon , She bade that he should trace His w i l l . He blent f a i r hues that shone - 9 S ~ And in a golden space He kissed her face/' Moreover the poet describes i n d e t a i l the pennant of the Warden of Holycleugh in Rose Mary• "The l i t t l e pennon quakes i n the air I cannot trace the blazon there•-All', now I can see the f i e l d of blue, The spurs and merlins two and two." And S i r James of Heronhaye, i n the same poem, wears a "blazoned coat" embroidered with "the heron wings of Heron-haye". Such d e t a i l s help to create the splendid pageantry of Chivalry which Rossetti so loved and therefore they are an ^ important feature i n his treatment of the subject. Then, of course, there i s the element of Courtly Love, which has already been discussed. But since t h i s sub-ject i s such an important aspect of ch i v a l r y , i t i s perhaps worth while to notice the place i t s conventions occupy i n these p a r t i c u l a r poems. Faithlessness, f o r example, i s the unforgiveable crime i n these t a l e s , and as such i s revenged by the deserted g i r l i n Si s t e r Helen and condemned by the mother i n Rose Mary; " F u l l well hath thy treason found i t s goal, .0 thou dead body and damned soul!" she exclaims. While Helen i s implacable i n what she regards as her just vengeance— "Hate born of Love, i s blind as he, L i t t l e brother." And when the boy pleads that her lover says that he me Its -94-"before a f i r e , she r e p l i e s simply, "My heart f o r his pleasure fared the same, L i t t l e brother." On the other hand, the f i d e l i t y of lovers i s rewarded as the highest v i r t u e . So, in The S t a f f and Scrip, the pilgrim-knight who had kept his vow, and the Queen, who remained true to him and t h e i r unspoken love through a l l her busy l i f e , are f i n a l l y united i n t h e i r medieval heaven: "Not tithed with days' and years' decease - He pays thy wage He owed, But with imperishable peace Here in his own abode, \ Thy jealous God." Rose Mary too i s f i n a l l y j u s t i f i e d because she i s true to her f a i t h l e s s lover. For she destroys the stone believing that they two w i l l be united after her death. And so f o r her " 1 t i s a blessed thing To work hereby our ransoming." And as she l i e s be side the shattered Beryl, a sweet, cl e a r voice i s heard through the room: "0 come—for thy b i t t e r love' s sake b l e s t ; By a sweet path now thou j ourneyest, And I w i l l lead thee to thy rest." In The King's Tragedy as well, the mutual deathless devot ion of the royal pair i s constantly prai sed. This element of Courtly Love, by the way, has not, l i k e many of the others, become an a r t i f i c i a l i t y at which we are inclined to smile. It i s a subject common to a l l romance and has been since the time of c l a s s i c a l legend--witness i t s importance i n the t a l e s of - 9 5 -Greek mythology- 7 #hile the f i d e l i t y or i n f i d e l i t y of lovers constitutes one of the commonest themes of the modern novel. But'in the days of Courtly Love faithlessness was regarded very seriously and termed the greatest of a l l crimes, as f i d e l i t y was considered the highest of virtues. In these poems we also find a frequent insistence on the beauty and virtue of the he roine, The Queen i n The Staff and Scrip i s described thus: "Her eyes were lik e the wave within: Like water-reeds the poise Of her soft body, dainty-thin; And l i k e the water's noise Her p l a i n t i v e voice." Rose Mary i s addressed by her mother as "Mary mine that art Mary's Rose." And as she lay i n death, we are t o l d , "The death she had won might leave no trace _On the soft sweet form and the gentle face: In a gracious sleep she seemed to l i e . " While of the Que en i n The King's Tragedy, Catherine Douglas says: "And the Queen was there more stately f a i r . Than a l i l y i n garden set." The trad i t ional love sickness, the faintness at sight of the loved one, i s likewise referred to at least once when the Pilgrim i n The Staff and Scrip f i r s t sees the Queen, "For him the stream had never well'd . In desert tracks, malign So sweet; nor had he ever f e l t So f a i n t i n the sunshine Of Palestine." So we see that the conventions of Courtly Love play quite an - 9 6-important part i n the tales of Chivalry; not, of course, that they are a l l observed i n every tale or even i n a l l the tales combined, but that the re are s u f f i c i e n t traces of them to show that they had at least some influence on Rossetti's treatment of love i n these poems. We may notice next that i n h i s presentation of knighthood, e s p e c i a l l y when the knights are heroes, Rossetti observes the ethics of Chivalry; These required, f i r s t , the most complete bravery i n the face of danger. Any trace of cowardice at once branded a knight as u t t e r l y ignoble, Accordingly, the knight i n The Staff and Scrip does not waver i n his determination to f i g h t f o r the Queen, although he knows the cause i s hopeless. " ' S i r , you are thanked. My cause i s dead. ., Why should you t o i l to break A grave and f a l l therein?' she said. He did not pause but spoke : 1 For my vow's sake.'" And in The King's Tragedy, King James w i l l pay no attention to the old woman's warning although i t i s his own l i f e which i s threatened. Rather than appearing disturbed by her words, he resigns his fate calmly i n t o the hands of his maker: "And i f God i n his wisdom have brought close . The day when I must die, That day by water or f i r e or a i r My feet s h a l l f a l l i n the destined snare Wherever my road may l i e While his fearlessness i n facing his enemies—one man alone and unarmed against many—was such that more than one bore the -9 7-mark of the King's hands on his throat long a f t e r , and that when he f e l l at l a s t , i t was with the sixteen wounds a l l i n his'breast. Even the Prince i n The White Ship, i n spite of being "a lawless, shameless youth", was, after a l l , a knight and a gentleman and at the moment of t r i a l did not hesitate to give his l i f e i n an attempt to save that of his s i s t e r . "He knew her face and he heard her cry .And he said, Put back! she must not die I" So he returned to his doom and in his death showed that n o b i l i t y of which there had been so l i t t l e evidence i n his l i f e . The ethics of Chivalry also required that knights display perfect courtesy to a l l women. This finds i t s l i t e r -ary echo, of course, i n the numerous tales concerning the rescue of a b e a u t i f u l lady by a bold and handsome knight. Thus the pilgrim-knight of The S t a f f and Scrip comes to the aid of the distressed Queen in true c h i v a l r i c manner; while the Prince, i n The White Ship, upon hearing the cry of his s i s t e r , returns to rescue her at the expense of his own l i f e . Though i n practice t h i s courtesy was often displayed only to ladies of noble rank, t h e o r e t i c a l l y at least, i t was to be shown to a l l women, however poor, old or ugly. So King James while he does not foilow the advice of the old woman, gives her words thoughtful attention and displays no anger at being suddenly faced by one who bore a message of impending disaster. She was a woman and as such must be treated with a -98-c e r t a i n respect. The code of Chivalry insisted too on the sanctity of a knight's vow. His word, once given, e s p e c i a l l y among equals, must he kept at a l l costs; and the f a i l u r e to comply with such an obligation was almost as shameful as a display of cowardice; i t was a serious r e f l e c t i o n upon the honour of the knight. This too i s r e f l e c t e d i n Rossetti's poems of Chivalry. The P i l g r i m knight must f i g h t for the Que en, i n spite of the hopelessness of his cause, for the sake of the vow he has made. The crime of the f a i t h l e s s lover i n S i s t e r Helen i s that he has "broken h i s plighted word: " 'He sends a ring and a "broken coin, S i s t e r Helen, And bids you mind the banks of Boyne 1' 'What else he broke w i l l he ever j o i n , l i t t l e b rother? 1" S i m i l a r l y S i r James of Heronhaye has broken f a i t h with Rose Mary and thereby earns the scorn and hatred of a l l who know of his crime. To the mother his dead face seems "A mask that hung on the gates of He 11'."; and by the good s p i r i t of the Beryl he i s condemned to "Hell of Treason". He has broken his word and therefore i s ban!shed to outer darkness. Closely associated with the sanctity of the given word, was l o y a l t y to the leige l o r d — t h e keeping of the vows of f e a l t y . To break these vows was quite as serious as to break any others, for a powerful lord held his position by means of the lesser nobles pledged to his service and d i s --99-l o y a l t y on t h e i r part might have very serious consequenoes. Even the Icing held h i s power through the great under lords and their d i s a f f e c t i o n or that of t h e i r followers might result i n a c i v i l war. The robber barons of Europe, of course, were constantly fighting among themselves and were quite independ-ent of kings. The power of such families Is indicated by the arrogance of t h e i r mottoes. Boast the Rohans• "Pukes we disdain; -Kings we can't be; Rohans are we 1" 1 • f And the mighty Sire of Goucy; "No king am I, no prince, no 2 duke ; I'm just the Sire of Goucy." With such power upheld by the oath of f e a l t y i t i s cle a r that the breaking of i t was not to be l i g h t l y regarded. So lord Urscelyn i n The Bride's  Prelude i s termed a t r a i t o r for his desertion of the family In i t s time of need. And the f a i t h l e s s barons i n The King's Tragedy are g u i l t y of treason as well as of murder; for they broke their oaths of f e a l t y ; and each day as the Queen watched beside the body of her husband, " i n the cold ear with f i r e -drawn breath, she spake the t r a i t o r s ' names." But t h e i r punishment was as heavy as t h e i r crime, and at l a s t , "James, James, they suffered more," she said. To break the oath of f e a l t y given to one's leige lord was an unforgivable crime and 1. Davis, W.S., L i f e on a Medieval Barony, (Harper and Brothers, New York and London, 1923), p."TFDT" 2. Ibid, p. 151. -100-as such Rossetti regarded i t , Even the sports of Chivalry have l e f t their mark i n these poems. Chief among them were hunting and hawking In both of which ladies as well as knights took part. Indeed the dogs, horses, and birds for these amusements we re important inmates of every medieval household of noble rank, with special quarters set aside for them and special men to t r a i n them. . These were, i n f a c t , two of the three p r i n c i p a l outdoor amuse-ments of peace time; and we find numerous references to them i n a l l authors writing of the Middle Ages. Our poet, i n The  Bride 8 s Prelude, makes a hunt the occasion on which Aloyse, who, because of her girlhood spent i n a convent, was no expert horsewoman, f a l l s from her horse and by so doing meets her future lover who, being s k i l l e d i n medicine, i s c a l l e d i n during the absence of the p r i e s t . And when the family fortunes have f a l l e n and they have f l e d to a strong place of safety, Aloyse relates that: "My hounds I had not; and my hawk, Which they had saved for me, Wanting the sun and rain to beat His wings, soon lay with gathered feet." But of course by far the most popular sport was that imitation of warfare, the tournament, i n which knights fought, often to the death, before the eyes of th e i r fellows and of f a i r l a d i e s . The excitement caused by these gatherings can perhaps hardly be paralleled i n our own day. They were held often to oelebrate a marriage or the creation of a knight and -101-lasted frequently for a week, accompanied by the greatest festivity and attended by everyone for miles around. The death or maiming of numerous men was regarded simply as a matter of course, as at "th© Gentle and Joyous passage of Arms of Ashby" i n which "although only four knights, including one who Was smothered by the heat of his armour, had died upon the f i e l d , yet upwards of t h i r t y were desperately wounded, four or five of whom never recovered. Several more were disabled for l i f e ; and those who escaped best, carried the < marks of the c o n f l i c t to the grave with them."1* But i n spite of the roughness and cru e l t y of the sport, perhaps even because of i t , no amusement was more popular among people of a l l ranks during the Middle Ages. In Rossetti's poems of Chivalry then, i t i s rather surprising to f i n d only one important reference to what might be termed the Chivalrie Sport of Zings. This reference occurs i n the conclusion of The s t a f f and Scrip i n which the poet imagines the Knight winning his Queen as the reward of vietory i n a c e l e s t i a l tournament. "The l i s t s are set i n Heaven today, , The bright pavilions shine, Pair hangs thy shiel d , and none gainsay The trumpets sound i n sign That she i s thine." But the days of Chivalry had also t h e i r indoor 1. scott, S i r Walter, Ivan-hoe, (C o l l i n s Clear Type Press, London and Glasgow, n.d.), p. 115. -102-amusements. Knights must be able to shine in the great hall as well as in the t i l t yard or hunting f i e l d . Hence most of them were able to play various games, to sing, and some even to recite poetry of their own composing while the,ladies worked their endless embroideries. In The King's Tragedy, we find King James and his friend playing chess; and later the King sings a song which he himself had written, accompanying him-seIf on the harp: "And he kissed her hand and took his harp, - And the music sweetly rang; i And when the song burst forth, i t seemed 'Twas the nightingale that sang." They danced too, to while away the long winter evenings. Aloyse in The Bride's Prelude, t e l l s how, with her sense of shame upon her "The endless changes of the dance Bewildered me: the tones Of lute and cithern struggled tow'rds Some sense; and s t i l l in the last chords The music seemed to sing wild words," A f i n a l feature of the days of Chivalry to be referred to by Rossetti is the Crusades. These Holy Wars against the Mohammedans in Palestine were extremely popular in Europe during the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It would be almost impossible to calculate the number of men who, during these years, travelled to the East to give up their lives in the cause of Christ. Frequently knights who f e l t themselves guilty of great 'sin chose this means of gain-ing absolution—and perhaps glory. In the Crusade led by -103-Peter the Hermit even women and children l e f t t h e i r homes and started on the long, hard march which after a l l ended i n disaste r. On the whole there was perhaps no movement daring the Middle Ages which took such a hold upon the minds and • imaginations of people of a l l ranks as did these wars for the land of the Holy Sepulchre. It i s only natural, then, that our poet should speak of them on several occasions. In Rose Mary, the mother, i n speaking of the Beryl stone and the s p i r i t s who inhabit i t , says: e> "But Moslem blood poured forth l i k e wine Can hallow H e l l , 'neath the Sacred Sign; And my lord brought this from Palestine," While i n the description of the chapel where the Beryl lay, we f i n d another reference to the father who fought i n the Holy Wars, "O'er the alte r - s i d e s on either hand There hung a dented helm and brand • By strength thereof, 'neath the Sacred Sign, That better g i f t , o'er the salt sea-brine Her father brought from Palestine," While a t h i r d reference i s found, not i n the poems dealing d i r e c t l y with Chivalry, but i n the shorter, poem e n t i t l e d The P o r t r a i t . Speaking of the painted face o f his lady now dead, the poet says: "Here with her face doth memory s i t .. Meanwhile and wait the days decline, T i l l other eyes s h a l l look from i t , Eyes of the s p i r i t ' s Palestine, Even than the old gaze tenderer* While hopes and aims long dead with her Stand round her image side by side, Like tombs of pilgrims that have died About the Holy Sepulchre." The p i l g r i m knight i n The St a f f and Scrip may per-haps be regarded as R o s s e t t i 5 s p o r t r a i t of the id e a l knight. As we have shown,he l i v e s up to a l l the c h i v a l r i c i d e a l s : he i s fearless i n b a t t l e , gentle, and f a i t h f u l even unto death. While as a companion p o r t r a i t we f i n d , i n The King 1s Tragedy, a picture of the i d e a l king of ch i v a l r y . Zing James was equally a perfect knight; u t t e r l y f e a r l e s s , as proved by the manner of his death; accomplished—he was a poet and musician; devoted to his Queen; and considerate of i n f e r i o r s as exemplified by his treatment of the old woman who warned him of his death. But he was more than t h i s ; he was a king. Now the king in days of chivalry occupied a singularly d i f f i c u l t p o s i t i o n . It was his task to hold the t hr one between the jealous and powerful nobles on the one hand, and the ever d i s -contented people on the other. Generally he feared most the strength of the nobles who might, i f they became too strong, overthrow his rule e n t i r e l y . And so he often did his best to l i m i t i t by taking from them some of the i r lands and prerogatives and granting greater rights to the people. He was therefore often regarded by the people as t h e i r champion and by the nobles as the i r enemy. This i s exactly the pos i t i o n of Zing James. Because he attempted to l i m i t the power of the great barons , they plotted against h i s l i f e and f i n a l l y k i l l e d him. And the common people of Scotland whom he -105-had helped f e l t with Catherine Douglas that ". . . i f a l l had come to pass in the b r a i n _ That throbbed beneath those curls, Then Scots had said i n days to come That this t h e i r s o i l was a different home And a d i f f e r e n t Scotland, gir l s . ' " His l i f e then may be regarded as typical of that of the ideal king of chivalry; h i s death was that of a brave and true gentleman. But although a l l these elements of Chivalry are to be found i n these poems, i t is,after a l l , the pictures of knighthood which the poet creates that remain longest i n our memories; — t h e pilgrim knight brought back to the Queen upon his shieId, the "three horsemen r i d i n g t e r r i b l y " to Sister Helen, S i r James of Heronhaye after his last battle : "The blazoned coat was rent on his breast .Where the golden f i e l d was goodliest; But the shivered sword, close-gripped, could t e l l That the blood shed round him where he f e l l Was not a l l his in the d i s t a n t d e l l , " We are left with an impression of men who laugh as they quaff a stirrup-cup, who wear " s t e e l shoes", who carry swords and bear a lanoe with "a blazoned s c r o l l " , and who smile i n the face of death; of slender women i n white gowns "quartered i n s i l v e r at each side" and r i c h with jewels, who "eke out upon silken cloth Christ's visage, or the long bright growth of Mary's ha i r or Satan's wroth" , who die for t h e i r love's sake and lose their souls to achieve their revenge. We hear the -106-noise of b a t t l e s , the " c r i e s of hostile lords and crash of spears and grind of swords", and the ring of mailed feet upon a stone f l o o r . Not quickly can we forget such a scene as the gallant struggle of King James, alone and unarmed against the assassins; "And he smote and trampled them under him; . And a long month thence they bare A l l black t h e i r throats with the gr i p of his hands When the hangman's hand came there," Such pictures represent the essence of Chivalry, i t s bravery, i t s beauty, i t s romance. As we read them we l i v e again i n "days of old when knights were bold and barons held t h e i r sway". As such scenes and such d e t a i l s are the most memorable feature i n R o s s e t t i 1 s treatment of Chivalry, i t i s natural to suppose that i t was this picturesque element which appealed to him most strongly. He did not, l i k e Tennyson, turn legends of knighthood into a parable to be applied to the changing s o c i a l conditions of his day; a moral or philosophical interpretation interested him not at a l l . Nor did he, l i k e Morris, attempt to catch the joyous and daring s p i r i t of the medieval knight, to recreate the psychology of Chivalry. No, i t was rather the glamour and beauty of the old days which appealed to him--the g l i t t e r of armour, the f l u t t e r of plumes and pennons. And as we read his poems we are reminded of Chesterton's sentence concerning S i r Walter -107-Soott, who also loved the picturesque trappings of knight-hood : "A two-handed sword might he carried only by a menial in'a procession,' but i t was something important and immeasurably fascinating—it was a two handed sword." 1 . 1. Chesterton, G.K., Twelve Types, (A.S.Humphreys, London, 1910), p. 192. -108-CHAPTER VI THE INFLUENCE OF ROMAN CATHOLICISM 'r "The medieval mind", says Mr. Root, "has i t s gaze primarily fixed on the s p i r i t u a l and abstract." 1 Therefore, he continues, i n i t s dealings with society and humanity i n general, the medieval tends to communism, for the community i s an abstract i d e a l . While i n i t s dealings with God, "to the medieval mind, man i s a member of a great s p i r i t u a l family, the body of Christ, the Church Catholic and Universal," 2" Protestantism, with i t s insistence on dir e c t and personal r e l a t i o n with the Piety and i t s tendency to break into sects as a res u l t of i n d i v i d u a l freedom of thought, i s u t t e r l y foreign to the mind of the Middle Ages. It i s individualism in r e l i g i o n ' — a n expression of the creed of the Renaissance and the present day. "Every man," we say, "has a right to his own opinion." Not so the medieval world. In an era where men were content to spend their l i v e s working at, per-haps, a small piece of carving on the wall of a cathedral; and to die unknown and unremembered except for the eternal beauty of t h e i r work; where not one year or even one gener-ation, but hundreds of years and scores of generations were required f o r the completion of a building considered worthy 1. Root, .R.K., The poetry of Chaucer, (Houghton and M i f f l i n Company, Boston and New York, 1906), 2. Ibid -109-to honour God;—in such a world the individual man and his opinions could matter l i t t l e in comparison to the great ideal. And so Roman Catholicism,, insisting upon the same beliefs for a l l men and stressing the spiritual and eternal as strongly as the material and temporal things of l i f e , was, quite naturally, the religion of the Middle Ages. Was i t also the religion of Rossetti, so much of whose mind was steeped in the ideas of a medieval world? In order to answer this question, let us examine the religious influences which were brought to bear upon him in his child-hood . His father, as William R.ossetti t e l l s us, "was mainly a free-thinker, strongly anti-papal and anti-sacerdotal, but not inclined, in a Protestant country, to abjure the faith of his fathers. He never attended any place of worship. Spite of his free-thinking, he had the deepest respect for the moral and spiritual aspects of the Christian religion, and in his later years might almost be termed an unsectarian and undog-matio Christian." 1* He was free from popular superstition and d i d not believe in ghosts, although his famous son, especially as a child, was quite willing to do so. Rossetti's mother was deeply though unpretentiously religious and belonged to the Anglican Church. From these two, especially his mother, the boy Dante Gabriel must have gained the rudiments of Christian 1. Rossetti, W.M., op. c i t . , vol. I, p. 12. -110-know ledge and an acquaintance with sacred stories and myths, as well as at least some idea of Catholicism from his father. We"are t o l d that he got to know the whole Bible f a i r l y well and regarded i t with great reverence. His favourite sections were job, Eccle sia^es, and the Appocalypse — a predeliotion which remained with him i n manhood. He was also f a m i l i a r with Martin and Westhall's I l l u s t r a t i o n s of the Bible and several other c o l l e c t i o n s of reproductions of r e l i g i o u s pictures. Besides the se d i r e c t means of instruction, he must have become f a m i l i a r with many of the b e l i e f s and legends of the medieval Church through h i s extensive reading i n the books concerned with the Middle Ages which he so dearly loved. Chief among the se was, of course, Dante, whose acquaintance he made i n his sixteenth or seventeenth year, and the wide extent of whose influence i n his work has already been shown. As a result of the se varied influences, Rossetti' s l a t e r r e l i g i o u s opinions were far from d e f i n i t e . To quote William Rossetti again: "My brother was unquestionably sce p t i c a l as to many alleged facts, and he disregarded formulated dogmas, and the practices founded upon them. For theological discussions of whatsoever kind he had not the f a i n t e s t taste, nor yet the least degree of aptitude. On the other hand, his mind was naturally prone to the marvelous and supernatural, and he had an abiding and very deep reverence for the person of C h r i s t . " 1 * As he him-1, Rossetti, W.M., op. c i t . , v o l . I, p. 380, - I l l -s e l f says i n his poem Soothsay; "Let lore of a l l Theology Be to thy soul what i t can be; But know the Power that fashions man Measured not out thy l i t t l e span For thee to take the me ting-rod. In turn, and so approve on God Thy soienoe of Theometry." For the disputed doctrines and creeds of the orthodox Roman Catholic Church, Rossetti cared nothing. But i t was above a l l the picturesque and wonderful which appealed to him i n the r e l i g i o u s as i n a l l other aspects of l i f e . And so, naturally, i t was to the Roman Catholicism of the Middle Ages with i t s mystic f a i t h and i t s beautiful forms of worship that he turned for much of h i s r e l i g i o u s i n s p i r a t i o n . As evidence of this f a c t , l e t us consider the several poems dealing wi th r e l i g i o u s subjects to be found i n R o s s e t t i 8 s work. One of the l o v e l i e s t of these i s e n t i t l e d Ave and deals with the l i f e of the V i r g i n Mary, We see her f i r s t as a young g i r l watering her flowers on a summer even-ing; and we hear with her the voice which spoke "without any noise, Being of the s i l e n c e . " Next we are shown the period of her Son's babyhood and boyhood, when she. was, perhaps, learning something of "God's high secret" and the g r i e f that was yet to be. Then came the "Long years when It was Finishe'd" ; and she devoted herself to oaring for his poor, waiting, always waiting, with the beloved d i s c i p l e , for His promise to be f u l f i l l e d ; f o r "'Surely I come quickly,'" he -113-sald. And they prayed night and day "'Amen: even so, lord Jesus, come'.'" U n t i l at l a s t dawned "that day when Michael came to break from the t i r ' d s p i r i t , l i k e a v e i l , i t s coven-ant with Gabriel endured at length unto the end." And the poet imagines her among the g l o r i e s of the angels, a Queen clothed with s t a r s — " 0 Mary V i r g i n , f a l l of grace'." The view-point of the poem, l e t us notice, i s purely Roman Catholic, for i t approaches that adoration of the V i r g i n so prevalent i n the Middle Ages.and pe r s i s t i n g down to the present day. This Mariolatry, as i t has been termed by Protestants, con-siders the V i r g i n to be Queen of Heaven and Mother of God. As such her worship p a r a l l e l s and probably i s derived from the worship of Juno, Venus and other godesses of older r e l i g i o n s . Her wide appeal as the female or mother element i n r e l i g i o n was early recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. She was considered to be the gentle, p i t y i n g s p i r i t who would intercede f o r l o s t souls at the throne of judgement. More-over she was credited with miraculous powers which evidenced themselves to men, and the legends of her miracles are very numerous. It i s with t h i s background i n mind that Rossetti wrote his poem. So conscious was he of the h o s t i l i t y which i t might arouse, that at one time he considered omitting i t from, his published work, but i t was f i n a l l y included and i s surely worthy of a place among his other writings. Closely associated with t h i s poem are the two sonnets On Mary's Girlhood, which were written for Rossetti* s o i l paintings dealing with the same subject. The second was inscribed on the frame of t h i s , his f i r s t picture. They represent Mary as she "dwelt young i n Nazareth of G a l i l e e " . "From her mother's knee F a i t h f u l and hopeful; wise in charity; Strong i n grave peace; i n pi t y circumspect." But the sextet of the f i r s t seems to re f e r more d i r e c t l y to Rossetti' s second picture, Ecce A n c i l l a Domini or The Annunciation. "She woke i n her white bed, and had no fear .At a l l — y e t wept t i l l sunshine, and f e l t awed Because the f u l l n e s s of the time was come.n These l i n e s exactly describe the painting in which Rossetti has represented the V i r g i n as crouching on her bed, facing, with a rapt expression of wonder i n her eyes, a radiant white angel bearing a l i l y i n his hand and having flames about his feet. . The second sonnet explains the symbols used so e f f e c t -i v e l y i n Rossetti's picture of Mary's girlhood;--the t r i p o i n t i n the embroidery at which the V i r g i n and her mother are working; the s i x books whose names are the virtues, guarded by a c h i l d angel; the l i l y of innocence standing upon them; the seven-thorned b r i a r and the seven leaved palm representing her great sorrow and her great triumph. A l l are part of the l i f e of her who i s herself "An angel-watered l i l y that near God grows and i s quiet." And again in these sonnets we fi n d that veneration of the V i r g i n which i s so d e f i n i t e l y a -114-ch a r a c t e r i s t i c of the Roman Catholic Church. The sonnet e n t i t l e d The Passover i n the Holy Family also i l l u s t r a t e s one of Rossetti' s drawings. In i t Christ holds a bowl of blood from which Zacharias i s sprinkling the posts and l i n t e l ; Joseph has brought the lamb, while Elizabeth l i g h t s the pyre as John binds the shoes of Christ and Mary gathers the b i t t e r herbs, part of the r i t u a l but symbolic of her sorrows. In the sonnet Rossetti explains that the feast of the Passover, ordained so long ago, represents, with the slaying of a pure and innocent lamb, the death of Christ, which i t s e l f occurred at the time of the great Jewish f e s t i v a l . Hoiv "The s l a i n lamb confronts the Lamb to slay" as the family celebrates the feast, ignorant of a l l that i t portends. Mary Magdalene at the Poor of Simon the Pharisee, too, was written for a drawing of the same t i t l e . In t h i s picture Mary has l e f t a group of r e v e l l e r s and ascended the steps of a house i n which she sees Jesus. Her lover, follow-ing, attempts to hold her back: "'Why wilt thou cast the ros.es from thine hair? . Kay, be thou a l l a rose,—wreath, l i p s , and cheek. Hay, not thi s house, the banquet-house we seek; See how they k i s s and enter; come thou there.'" but she, resolute i n her purpose, i s not to be turned aside : "'Oh loose me. Seest thou not my Bridegroom's face That draws me to him? For his feet my k i s s , My hair, my tears He craves today:-and ohi What words can t e l l what other day and place S h a l l see me clasp those blood-stained feet of his? He needs me, c a l l s me, loves me: l e t me goi "' -115-Pive other sonnets are written on pictures represent-ing religious subjects. The f i r s t is For an Annunciation. Early German. In the painting the Virgin kneels, praying behind a screen of l i l i e s . A Dove: f l i e s in to her, and at the low porch stands one "who looks as though deep awe made him to smile", there where the plants yield shadow from the sun and "the aisled p i l l a r s meet the poplar aisle". Seeing her thus—"Mary the. Queen"—the poet reflects that "She was faith's Present, parting what had been Prom what began with her, and i s for aye. On either hand God's twofold system lay: With meek bowed face a Virgin prayed between." The second sonnet was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's Our Lady of the Rocks. As he looks at her represented with a dark background of rocks and sea, the poet wonders i f the darkness is the, Shadow of Death, and the outer sea, "infinite, imminent Eternity", to reach which man must pass through a death-pang as keen as the rocks themselves; "and the bewilder-ed souls throng i t like echoes, blindly shuddering through", but her face is bent in prayer toward her Son as He Blesses the dead with his hand silently "to His long day where hours no more offend." The next two sonnets both appeared originally in The Germ and are written on two pictures by Hans Memmelinck— A Virgin and Ohild and A Marriage of St. Catherine, The f i r s t begins, "Mystery: God, Man's l i f e born into man of woman." It continues by speaking of the calm of the mother's -116-faoe which has coins to i t as "the ended pang of knowledge". F o r from the beginning of her task she has known a l l that must be accomplished; and though her son i s o n l y a baby now he i s a l r e a d y " P e r f e c t and Chosen". The second sonnet s t a r t s "Mystery: Catherine the b r i d e of C h r i s t " , and concerns an o l d legend o f the Church. In the p i c t u r e the Holy C h i l d sets the r i n g on the f i n g e r of the k n e e l i n g g i r l , while Mary reads the book and the two Johns l i s t e n and watch. So the maiden giv e s her l i f e "hushed and m i l d " to her Master. U t t e r j o y i s hers and f i t t i n g l y "Where'on soe'r thou look, the l i g h t i s s t a r r e d i n gems and the gold, burns." The l a s t poem i n t h i s group was w r i t t e n f o r Michael Angel o's Holy Family. In the p i c t u r e the V i r g i n i s shown w i t h h o l d i n g from the Chi Id the prop he t i c w r i t i n g s i n which i s s u f f e r i n g s are f o r e t o l d , while angels be side them examine a s c r o l l . T h e i r search f o r a c l u e to the d i v i n e mystery i s u s e l e s s , r e f l e c t s the poet; only by C h r i s t ' s manhood and s u f f e r i n g w i l l the s e c r e t be made known. " S t i l l b e f o r e Eden waves the f i e r y sword .  Her Tree of L i f e unransomed: whose sad t r e e Of Knowledge yet to growth of Calvary Must y i e l d i t s T e m p t e r — H e l l the e a r l i e s t dead Of E a r t h r e s i g n , — a n d y e t , 0 Son and Lord, The seed o' the woman b r u i s e the serpent' s he ad." We n o t i c e that of these ten r e l i g i o u s poems, e i g h t introduce legends of the V i r g i n c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the Medieval Church. Perhaps the Blessed Damozel may a l s o be i n c l u d e d among the poems d e a l i n g w i t h r e l i g i o u s themes. It c o n t a i n s -117-R o s s e t t i ' s most el a b o r a t e p i c t u r e of Paradise and, as has a l r e a d y been remarked, i s a product of the S c r i p t u r e s and the Appocrypha i n t e r p r e t e d to a g r e a t e r or l e s s e r degree by the w r i t i n g s o f Dante. The white c l a d souls w i t h aureoles about t h e i r heads, s i n g i n g p r a i s e s to t h e i r Creator, are, of course, found i n the P a r a d i s e ; but Dante h i m s e l f r e c e i v e d h i s i n s p i r a t i o n from the S c r i p t u r e s . "And round about the throne were four and twenty se at s: and upon the seats I saw f o u r and twenty e l d e r s s i t t i n g , c l o t h e d i n white raiment; and they had on t h e i r heads crowns of g o l d . " 1 " And elsewhere, "And a l l the angels stood around about the throne, and about the e l d e r s and the f o u r b e a s t s , and f e l l before the throne on t h e i r f a c e s , and worshipped God, saying, Amen; B l e s s i n g and g l o r y , and wisdom, and t h a n k s g i v i n g , and honour, and power, and might be unto our God f o r ever and ever. Amen."• Such passages must s u r e l y have been i n R o s s e t t i ' s mind when he wrote h i s poem, i n a d d i t i o n to h i s memories of Dante. The stream i n t o which the l o v e r s w i l l step down and bathe, and "That l i v i n g m ystic tree .Within whose s e c r e t growth the Dove Is sometimes f e l t to be," may a l s o be tra c e d to the B i b l e . For we f i n d : "And he showed me a pure r i v e r of water o f l i f e proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the s t r e e t of i t , 1. R e v e l a t i o n s 4 -.4. 2. R e v e l a t i o n s ' 7 :11-12 -118-and on either side of the river, was there the tree of l i f e , which bare twelve manner of fruits and yielded her fruits every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of nations." " M W .'The conception of the lady Mary as a queen surrounded by her maidens i s , of course, purely Roman Catholic and Medieval. As we have already remarked in an earlier discussion of this poem, it is impossible to say how great is the single influence of Dante and how great that of Church legend and belief derived from, other sources. It is at any rate clear that the Catholic conception of Heaven must have been as strong in. Rossetti 8 s mind when he wrote The Blessed Damozel as i t was in Dante's when he wrote the Divine Comedy. So that the poem i s probably best considered as an expression of Roman Catholicism as seen in the vision of Dante in the thirteenth Century and interpreted by Rossetti in the nineteenth century. Although not, s t r i c t l y speaking, a religious poem, the strange imitation ballad Eden Bower is perhaps worthy of discussion here because although the legend of l i l i t h , the f i r s t wife of Adam, i s a Jewish myth, Rossetti has linked i t to the story of the f a l l of man, which i s , of course, Christian and therefore Catholic. Of l i l i t h legend te l l s us "Hot a drop of her blood was human, -But she was made like a soft, sweet woman," 1. Revelations 22;1-2. -119-She is supposed s t i l l to exist and a man who f a l l s under her spell is found, when he dies, to have a single golden hair bound firmly about his heart. Rossetti relates that it was this beautiful, golden-haired witch who tempted Eve in the shape of a serpent, He pictures l i l i t h ' s jealousy of Eve and shows that i t was to revenge herself on her hated r i v a l that she tempted the woman to eat the forbidden apple, Says L i l i t h , plotting with the serpent • "Lo, Eve bends to the breath of L i l i t h ! (Sing Eden Bower!) 0 How then shall my heart desire A l l her blood as food to its f i r e ! " "Then Eve shall eat and give unto Adam; (Alas the hour!) And then they both shall know they are naked And their hearts shall ache as my he.art hath ached." And she foretells the sorrows that shall come to the man and woman when, by her contriving, they shall have been cast out of Eden: "Lo! two babes for Eve and for Adam! (Alas the hour;') Lo! sweet snake, the travail and treasure— Two men children born for their pleasure 1 The f i r s t is Gain and the second Abel; (Sing Eden Bower!) The soul of one shall be made thy.brother And thy tongue shall lap the blood of the other (Alas the hour! )" It i s a strange poem with i t s sense of weird, e v i l power expressed i n the vicious hatred of L i l i t h and her association with the snake. Her jealousy we can understand, for i t is human: but that she should seek assistance from the loathsome -120-serpent i s somehow unnatural and repellent. The suggestion of physioal contact "between the coils of a reptile and the body of a beautiful woman i s particularly repulsive. "0 bright Snake, the Death-worm of AdamI (Sing Eden Bower: ) Wreath thy neck with my hair 1s bright tether, And wear my gold'and thy gold together!" And again; "O my love, come nearer to l i l i t h ! (Sing Eden Boweri) In thy sweet folds bind me and bend me, And let me feel the shape thou shalt lend me." Surely Rossetti has created a vivid and haunting poem by his union of old Jewish mythology with Christian tradition. The quaint naivete and beauty of many ancient Church legends appealed to Rossetti as did so many old and lovely things. Nor are the references to them confined to the religious poems where we should naturally expect to- find them. In this group, of course, they are numerous. In Ave, for example, i s a reference to Mary's supposed summoning to death by the Archangel Michael; "But ohI.what human tongue can speak .That day when Michae1 came to break Prom the tired s p i r i t , like a veil,' Its covenant with Gabriel Endured at length unto the end?" According to tradition, Michael "the Great and Wonderful" i s the angel of Death. On the day appointed he appeared to the Virgin Mother, bearing a palm branch and "clothed in light as with a garment" to warn her of her approaching end. The -121-sonnet f o r A Marriage of S a i n t Catherine is based on the legendary m y s t i c a l union of S t . Catherine to C h r i s t . The myth t e l l s us that she was the daughter of King Konetos of A l e x a n d r i a , e i g h t e e n years o l d , wise , and b e a u t i f u l . Having r e j e c t e d many o f f e r s of marriage, she was taken to. heaven i n a v i s i o n and betrothed to C h r i s t by the V i r g i n Mary. l a t e r she was t o r t u r e d f o r her f a i t h by the command o f a Roman g e n e r a l , but the wheel to which she was bound broke at her touch . She was f i n a l l y beheaded and her body was born by angels to Mt. S i n a i where J u s t i n i a n I founded a monastery i n her honour. In the n o n - r e l i g i o u s poems R o s s e t t i makes use of at l e a s t two other myths concerning "the lady Mary". In the sonnet, Beauty and the B i r d , we find these l i n e s : "And l i k e the c h i I d i n Chaucer, on whose tongue , The Bles.sed Mary laid, whan he was dead, A g r a i n — w h o straightway p r a i s e d her name in song,'—" Here R o s s e t t i i s o b v i o u s l y r e f e r r i n g to the rniracle of the V i r g i n r e l a t e d by Chaucer's "Lady P r i o r e s s e " . The sto r y i s of a l i t t l e school boy who was murdered by the Jews because he always sang a hymn to the V i r g i n as he went t o sch o o l and as he r e t u r n e d . The murderers h i d h i s body, but searchers were l e d t o i t by a sound of s i n g i n g . Nor would the c h i l d , although dead, cease his Alma Redamptoris u n t i l a g r a i n which the V i r g i n had p l a c e d on h i s tongue was removed. T h i s r e f e r -ence i s i n t e r e s t i n g because, b e s i d e s showing the appeal which such old t a l e s made to R o s s e t t i , i t i s one of the few traces -122-of Chaucer and h i s work to be found i n our poet. The second myth is employed i n Sister Helen, One of the most remarkable features of this imitative ballad i s the strange refrain which, with s l i g h t variations, recurs in each Terse* "(0 Mother, Mary Mother, Three days today between Hell and Heaven!)" The appeal to the Virgin, however, does not alter and seems to have been employed because, besides being the patron of women, she was supposed to have been the only power to whom those guilty of witchcraft dared to pray. I t was her task to i n t e r c e d e at the throne of judgement f o r those who had committed t h i s u n f o r g i v e a b l e crime. S t i l l another legend employed by R o s s e t t i i s that which r e l a t e s how Jesus, a f t e r h i s C r u c i f i x i o n , spent the three days b e f o r e h i s R e s u r r e c t i o n , i n H e l l , and there saved c e r t a i n s o u l s of the dead, t a k i n g them up to Heaven with him. A c c o r d i n g to Dante, he so rescued Adam, Noah, Moses, Abraham, David, I s r a e l , Rachel, and o t h e r s whose g r e a t e s t s i n was that they had not been b a p t i z e d . T h i s s o - c a l l e d "Harrowing of H e l l " i s one of the most wi d e l y known of Church legends. I t i s a p p a r e n t l y of t h i s episode that R o s s e t t i i s t h i n k i n g when i n the sonnet Love's Testament he says: "0 what from th*e the grace, to me the p r i z e , And what to Love the g l o r y , — w h e n the whole Of the deep s t a i r thou t r e a d ' s t to the dim shoal And weary water o f the p l a c e of s i g h s , - l a s -Ana there dost work d e l i v r a n e e as thine eyes Draw up my p r i s o n e d s p i r i t to thy soul'." I t was not, however, merely the t r a d i t i o n a l legends of the Roman C a t h o l i c Church which l e f t t h e i r impression on the mind of R o s s e t t i . The medieval Church s t r e s s e d c o n s t a n t l y the importance of the s p i r i t u a l and su p e r n a t u r a l i n the l i f e of a m a t e r i a l world. As Mr. Root r e m a r k s , 1 , the medieval mind, through the i n f l u e n c e o f the Church, had i t s gaze p r i m a r i l y f i x e d upon the s p i r i t u a l and a b s t r a c t . Heaven came very near to e a r t h i n those days; s h i n i n g ones bearing the Holy G r a i l might appear to worthy k n i g h t s ; the old men saw v i s i o n s and the young men dreamed dreams of s a i n t s and angels; good and e v i l s p i r i t s walked the e a r t h and might mingle i n the a f f a i r s of men by t a k i n g human shape; and b e l i e f i n m i r a c l e s , such as the h e a l i n g of the s i c k by a touch of a holy r e l i c , was common. Such ideas were encouraged by a Church which, as Mr. Pater s a y s , 2 " "by i t s a e s t h e t i c worship, i t s sacramentalism, i t s r e a l f a i t h , i n the r e s u r r e c t i o n of the f l e s h , had set i t s e l f a g a i n s t the Manic he an o p p o s i t i o n o f s p i r i t and matter." So much d i d i t i n s i s t upon the pre sence of the s p i r i t u a l i n the p h y s i c a l t h a t , i n the minds of many men, the a c t u a l wo r i d g r a d u a l l y d i m i n i s h e d i n importance and human emotions became s p i r i t u a l i z e d u n t i l , as i n the case of Dante, 1. Root, R.E., op. c i t . p. 2. p a t e r , W.H., A p p r e c i a t i o n s , (Maomillan and Company, Li m i t e d , London, 1918'), p. 212. -124-"The s o u l could soar from e a r t h ' s v a i n throng, -And Heaven and H e l l f u l f i l the song."l« The e x i s t e n c e of the unseen behind the seen, of vast powers moving i n mysterious ways to a f f e c t the l i v e s of men, was among the most c h a r a c t e r i s t i c teachings of the Church of the Middle Ages. I t was t h i s mysticism, t h i s r e c o g n i t i o n of the d u a l -ism of the world and of man's nature which impressed R o s s e t t i so s t r o n g l y . He was c o n s t a n t l y attempting to r e c o n c i l e the s p i r i t u a l and the p h y s i c a l which, he r e a l i z e d , are so s t r a n g e l y mingled i n human l i f e . That t h i s a t t i t u d e i s shown i n h i s treatment o f love , we have a l r e a d y demonstrated i n the s e c t i o n d e a l i n g w i t h the i n f l u e n c e of Dante. Says h i s l a d y i n P a s s i o n and Worship, "Thou a r t P a s s i o n o f l o v e and t h i s Love's Worship, bot h he p l i g h t s . to me ." The i d e a l love must be a p e r f e c t union of both body and s o u l . And to R o s s e t t i , so completely are f l e s h and s p i r i t fused i n t o one that the p h y s i c a l takes on a s p i r i t u a l s i g n i f i c a n c e while s p i r i t u a l experiences are i n t e r p r e t e d by p h y s i c a l e x p r e s s i o n . "Thy s o u l I know not from t h y body, nor Thee from myself, n e i t h e r our love from God." he says i n the sonnet Heart' s Hope. And i n Love L i l y : "Whose speech t r u t h knows not from her thought Nor Love her body from her s o u l . " 1. R o s s e t t i , D.G., "Dante at Verona", P o e t i c a l Works, ( P . P . C o l l i e r and Son, Hew York, 1902), p. 1. -125-As Mr. Benson expresses i t ; "For him human p a s s i o n was i n e x t r i c a b l y connected w i t h i t s outward m a n i f e s t a t i o n s , i n the emotions s t i r r e d by the apprehension of beauty a l i k e d e f i n i t e and i n d e f i n i t e , the g r a c i o u s mysteries of which human form and f e a t u r e s , gesture,, movement, and glance seem a sacramental e x p r e s s i o n , " 1 ' But i t i s not onl y i n h i s a t t i t u d e toward love t h a t we are c o n s c i o u s o f t h i s f u s i o n o f the two elements of l i f e , The poem Troy Town, f o r i n s t a n c e , i s e n t i r e l y v i s i o n a r y , yet i t c o n t a i n s imagery which i s p e r f e c t l y v i v i d and e s s e n t i a l l y sensuous. "Heavenborn Helen, Sparta's queen, ( 0 Troy Town I ) Had two b r e a s t s of heavenly sheen, The sun and moon o f the hea r t ' s d e s i r e ; A l l Love's l o r d s h i p l a y between, (0 Troy's down, T a l l Troy's on f i r e . ) " S t i l l i t g i v e s no imp r e s s i o n of r e a l i t y . Yenus and Cup i d , a l though they have names, are not people but only s p i r i t s . Helen i s r e a l , but the o n l y other human touch comes i n the l a s t verse : " P a r i s turned i n h i s bed, . (0 Troy Towni ) Turned upon h i s bed and sa i d Dead at heart with the hea r t ' s d e s i r e — 1 oh to c l a s p her golden headI' ( 0 Troy*s down, T a l l Troy's on f i r e 2)" 1. Benson, A.C., R o s s e t t i , (Macmillan and Company, L i m i t e d , London, 1904), pp, 78-79. -126-While The P o r t r a i t , at f i r s t a simple d e s c r i p t i o n of the beloved and the hoars spent w i t h her, takes on, a t the end, a m y s t i c tone as the poet speaks of t h e i r u l t i m a t e u n i o n : "Even so, where Heaven holds b r e a t h and hears . The beating heart of l o v e ' s own b r e a s t , — Where round the s e c r e t of a l l spheres A l l angels l a y t h e i r wings to r e s t , — How s h a l l my s o u l stand r a p t and awed, When, by the new b i r t h borne abroad Throughout the music of the suns, I t e n t e r s i n her s o u l at once And knows the s i l e n c e there f o r God." And yet t h i s s p i r i t w i l l have eyes "even than the "old gaze t e n d e r e r " . In The S t a f f and S c r i p too there i s an e x p r e s s i o n of the consciousness of the unseen behind the seen. As the p i l g r i m k n i g h t looks at the Queen "Right so, he knew t h a t he saw weep . Each n i g h t through every dream The Queen's own face, confused i n sleep .With v i s a g e s supreme Hot known to him." In s h o r t , R o s s e t t i ' s i s a "Romantic mysticism with f a i t h i n the presence, of s p i r i t u a l f o r c e s i n p l a y at a l l p o i n t s upon the human soul."' 1"* Another aspect of t h i s r e a l i z a t i o n of the i n t e r p l a y between the s p i r i t u a l and the p h y s i c a l i s R o s s e t t i ' s frequent use of the s u p e r n a t u r a l . For i f s p i r i t u a l powers are present i n the world, i t i s only n a t u r a l to suppose t h a t they w i l l sometimes ma n i f e s t themselves i n ways i n e x p l i c a b l e to our 1. Wood, Es t h e r , Dante R o s s e t t i and the Pre-Raphaelite Movement, (S. Low, Marston and Company, Lim i t e d , London, 1894), p. 244. - 1 2 7 -simple human minds. So in h i s t a l e from S c o t t i s h h i s t o r y , The King's Tragedy, R o s s e t t i i n t r o d u c e s the o l d woman who thrice warns the king of h i s approaching death, t e l l i n g him of her successive v i s i o n s of him wrapped i n a shroud which rose from h i s f e e t t i l l at last i t covered h i s eyes and mouth, when she knew he was doomed to die: "For every man on God's ground, 0 King, ..His death grows up from his "birth In a shadow p l a n t c o n t i n u a l l y ; And thine towers high, a b l a c k yew-tree, O'er the Charterhouse of P e r t h . " Sister Helen i s based on the o l d superstition that a man might be made to die i f his image were moulded of wax and melted over a f i r e . The death would be s w i f t or l i n g e r i n g according to the length of time taken to melt the wax. And so, in the poem, as the last of the wax drops from i t s place, the t o l l i n g of the passing b e l l i s heard and Helen's vengeance i s c o m p l e t e — " ( l o s t , l o s t , a l l l o s t , between H e l l and Heavenl)" Rose Mary c e n t r e s on the b e l i e f in crystal gazing which i s s t i l l o u r r e n t . But i n t h i s case, the pictures were supposed to be formed by s p i r i t s which i n h a b i t e d the Beryl stone. I t could only be read by one who was completely pure and innocent and so , by her s e c r e t s i n , Rose Mary worked her d e s t r u c t i o n . "We whose home is the Beryl, . F i r e spirits of dread desire, Who entered i n By a secret sin 'Gainst whom a l l powers that strive with ours are s t e r i l e , — We cry woe to thee, Mother I -128-What hast thou taught her, the g i r l thy daughter, That she and none other Should this dark morrow to her deadly sorrow imperil?" In the unfinished prose story, S t . Agnes of the I n t e r c e s s i o n , R o s s e t t i employs the f a i r l y wide-spread belief i n a former existence; for the hero, in the nineteenth century, finds the faces of h i m s e l f and h i s beloved i n p o r t r a i t s drawn by a fifteenth century painter. While Hand and S o u l , in which an artist makes a picture of his own soul and then dies, is d e r i v e d from the o l d s u p e r s t i t i o n o f the existence o f a phantom, s p i r i t u a l s e l f which, i f seen by the r e a l person, i s a s i g n o f death. The same belief i s the su b j e c t of R o s s e t t i ' s p i c t u r e How They Met Themselves, i n whioh two l o v e r s meet t h e i r w r a i t h s i n a wood; and i t seems to be r e f e r r e d to i n the t h i r d verse of The P o r t r a i t —where the poet speaks of a wood whe re i n you hear "your own foot steps meeting you." I t i s n o t i c e a b l e that some of Rossetti's most effective w r i t i n g i s found i n passages d e a l i n g with such s u p e r n a t u r a l elements. The whole of S i s t e r Helen i s unsur-passed f o r i t s f e e l i n g of t e r r i b l e suspense and unholy triumph. I t has been termed "the strongest emotional poem as yet i n the language,"1* And i n The King's Tragedy the v e r s e s d e a l i n g with the old woman and her prophecy are among the most memorable in the poem. Against a background of w i l d sea and 1. Dr. Gordon Hake, the poet. Quoted by R o s s e t t i , W.M., op. c i t . , v o l . I, p. 167. -129-sky, and b l a c k rocks dimly s i l v e r e d w i t h moonlight, stands a f i g u r e as uncouth as the scene i t s e l f . And a v o i c e b o l d l y d e c l a r e s t o the King the s w i f t n e s s w i t h which h i s end i s approaching. "Pour years i t i s s i n c e f i r s t I met, .  Twixt the Buchray and the Phu, A shape whose f e e t clung c l o s e i n a shroud, And that shape f o r thine I knew. e a e And when I meet thee again, 0 King, That of death hast such sore d r o u t h , — Except thou t u r n a g a i n on t h i s s h o r e , — The winding sheet s h a l l have moved once more And covered t h i n e eyes and mouth." The mystery of the woman's appearance i n such a p l a c e and the g h o s t l i n e s s of her solemn warning produce a f e e l i n g o f dread which overshadows the d e s c r i p t i o n s of a l l the f e s t i v i t i e s t h a t f o l l o w . But perhaps the passage which i s most p e r f e c t l y e x p r e s s i v e of mystery and d e s o l u t i o n , of the memories o f days long dead which yet are s t r a n g e l y a l i v e , occurs i n The P o r t r a i t ; " I n p a i n t i n g her I s h r i n e d her face 'Mid mystic t r e e s where l i g h t f a l l s i n Hardly at a l l ; an overt p l a c e Where you might t h i n k to f i n d a d i n Of d o u b t f u l t a l k , and a l i v e flame Wandering, and many a shape whose name Hot i t s e l f knoweth, and o l d dew, And your own f o o t s t e p s meeting you, And a l l t h i n g s going as they came." I t i s a l l quit© v i s i o n a r y and u n r e a l , but R o s s e t t i has s u r e l y never c r e a t e d b e t t e r an impression of nameless dread; while the conception of the t h i n g s o f yesterday "going as they came" seems t o give a l a s t touch of strange sadness to the whole -ISO-weird p i c t u r e . Because of his mysticism, i t i s not s u r p r i s i n g to f i n d t h a t R o s s e t t i employed symbolism v e r y e x t e n s i v e l y . This trait too may be t r a c e d to the i n f l u e n c e of the Roman C a t h o l i c Church. In i t s l i t e r a t u r e , i t s a r t , i t s r i t u a l , always i t i n s i s t s on the "outward and v i s i b l e s i g n of an inward and s p i r i t u a l grace." Consider, f o r example, the frequent use of s t a t u e s i n Roman C a t h o l i c churches, so o f t e n condemned by P r o t e s t a n t s as an approach to i d o l a t r y — t h e worship o f the man-made, m a t e r i a l f i g u r e r a t h e r than of the s p i r i t u a l God represented. Though such degeneration may undoubtedly take p l a c e , the s t a t u e s were o r i g i n a l l y meant simply as v i s i b l e symbols of an i n v i s i b l e D e i t y ; an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f the I n f i n i t e comprehensible t o finite minds. S i m i l a r l y the use of the r o s a r y must have o r i g i n a t e d i n an attempt to reduce to a simple and understandable form something s p i r i t u a l and i n t a n g i b l e which t h e r e f o r e , to our human understanding a t l e a s t , must always remain a mystery. The only way i n which we can g a i n any understanding whatever of such matters i s through t h e i r symbolic r e p r e s e n t a t i on i n the forms o f t h i n g s which are f a m i l i a r to us. So God i s p i c t u r e d as a Zi n g i n h i s power, and as a g e n t l e and l o v i n g Saviour i n h i s mercy. A bead, i n Roman C a t h o l i c r i t u a l , i s made to stand f o r a prayer, and a r i s i n g c l o u d of incense f o r p e t i t i o n s ascending to God, while a g r a c e f u l , winged f i g u r e s i g n i f i e s a pure s p i r i t * I t i s a l l symbolism—an attempt to i l l u s t r a t e and e x p l a i n at l e a s t a part of something which, t o our minds, i s incomprehensible i n i t s e n t i r e t y . With suoh symbolism, R o s s e t t i , as we have shown, must have been f a m i l i a r . So when he began to w r i t e i t i s not s u r p r i s i n g that he e x h i b i t e d r e f l e c t i o n s of i t i n his poetry. The f l o w e r s of the B l e s s e d Damozel, f o r i n s t a n c e , are a white rose, the flower of the V i r g i n , and three white l i l i e s f o r p u r i t y — t h r e e being the number of the Holy T r i n i t y . Seven was a l s o c o n s i d e r e d to be a mystic n u m b e r — i n Re v e l a t i o n s , St. John t e l l s us that there were seven churohes i n A s i a , that he saw seven gold c a n d l e s t i c k s , and that in the hand of the angel were seven s t a r s — a n d the Damozel has seven s t a r s i n her h a i r . While Lady L i l i t h , the embodiment of sensuous beauty, has f o r her flowers r o s e s and poppies s i g n i f y i n g love and sleep or death. "The rose and poppy are her f l o w e r s ; f o r where Is he not found, 0 L i l i t h , whom shed scent . And s o f t shed k i s s e s and s o f t sleep s h a l l snare?" S i m i l a r l y the rose r e p r e s e n t s Mary Magdalene — "Why w i l t thou cast the roses from thine h a i r ? g .Pay, be thou a l l a r o s e — w r e a t h , l i p s , and cheek." * But f o r Mary V i r g i n , i n Mary's G i r l h o o d , there are the T r i -p o i n t — p e r f e c t i n two p o i n t s only, s i g n i f y i n g that C h r i s t i s 1, R o s s e t t i , D.G., "Body's Beauty", P o e t i c a l Works, (P.P. C o l l i e r and Son, Hew York, 1902), p. 219. 2. R o s s e t t i , D.G., "Mary Magdalene at the House of Simon the P h a r i s e e " , op. c i t . , p. 314. not yet b o r n ; — t h e books whose names are the v i r t u e s , guarded by the l i l y which i s innocence; the seven-thorned b r i a r for, her great sorrow and the. seven-leaved palm f o r her g r e a t triumph. While i n The Passover i n the Holy Family the b i t t e r herbs she gathers represent her g r i e f ; and the e n t i r e r i t u a l of the f e a s t stands f o r the C r u c i f i x i o n i t s e l f , when should "meet together the p r e f i g u r i n g day and day p r e f i g u r e d " . Even i n the d e s c r i p t i o n of the c h a p e l of the B e r y l i n Rose Mary, R o s s e t t i has made use of symbolism; f o r here, we are t o l d , were the f o u r symbols of the world ' s b i r t h — e a r t h , water, f i r e and a i r : "To the n o r t h , a f o u n t a i n g l i t t e r e d f r e e ; ..To the south, there glowed a red f r u i t - t r e e ; To the e a s t , a lamp flamed high and f a i r ; To the west, a c r y s t a l casket rare Held f a s t a c l o u d of f i e l d s of a i r . " 1 " But i t i s i n h i s p a i n t i n g s even more than i n h i s p o e t r y that R o s s e t t i ' s use o f symbolism i s so n o t i c e a b l e . Always, we f i n d , he endeavours to symbolize h i s main subject i n the d e t a i l and background work of h i s p i c t u r e . Says Mr. H u s f f e r i n speaking of Dante Drawing an Angel i n Memory of B e a t r i c e : "The d e s i r e to f i l l up every corner with something-symbolic i f p o s s i b l e — leads to the i n t r o d u c t i o n of a row of seraphs' heads; a Madonna and C h i l d ; a m i r r o r ; an hourglass; a pomegranate; many other t o o l s ; an a r c h i t e c t u r a l landscape seen through a window; a doorway; a c o r r i d o r and a p i e c e of an 1, R o s s e t t i , D.G., "Rose Mary", P a r t I I I , op. c i t . , p . 1 3 2 . - 1 3 3 -o re hard g arden." 1* In the Beata Beatrix, representing Beatrice in a trance shortly "before her end, are a s u n d i a l , the f i g u r e s of Love and of Dante, and a dove bearing a poppy--the symbol of death. The Damsel of the San G r a e l has behind her head the dove of p u r i t y , and around the edge of the p i c t u r e t r a i l grape l e a v e s . Joan of Arc i s represented w i t h the white l i l y of innocence and k i s s e s the blade of a sword before the crossed f e e t of a c r u c i f i x . And Mary Magdalene, g l o r i o u s i n her halo of bright h a i r , i s p l a c e d a g a i n s t a background of b r i a r r o s e s . Fiametta "A presage and a promise stands; as 'twere -On Death's dark storm the rainbow of the S o u l . " 2 > The incarnation of Spring, of new l i f e a f t e r the death of Winter, she i s surrounded by apple-blossoms with a s c a r l e t b i r d perched above her head. Such examples might be m u l t i -p l i e d many times over, but these serve to show the mystic trend of R o s s e t t i ' s mind, which c o n s t a n t l y saw the s p i r i t u a l and the p h y s i c a l , the a b s t r a c t thought, and the concrete symbol, so s t r a n g e l y i n t e r t w i n e d . But not only does he symbolize i n concrete form an a b s t r a c t i d e a . So s t r o n g l y conscious i s he of t h i s i n v i s i b l e i d e a , of the s u p e r n a t u r a l or s p i r i t u a l background of a l l m a t e r i a l expressions of l i f e , that he at times v i z u a l i z e s t h i s 1. Hueffer, P.M., op. c i t . , p. 56. 2. R o s s e t t i , D.G. , "Piarnetta", op. c i t . , p. 360. - 1 3 4 -element as c l e a r l y as he does that w h i c h . a c t u a l l y meets h i s eye. The v i s i o n s of l o v e , l i f e , and death, which we have p r e v i o u s l y mentioned as being derived from s i m i l a r v i s i o n s In Dante, are examples of t h i s phase of mysticism. The love which s a t upon the woodside w e l l with R o s s e t t i i n the Willow-wood sonnets i s as r e a l to us as the water, the weary wood, and the poet h i m s e l f . The B l e s s e d Damozel and the Heaven i n which she i s placed are p u r e l y s p i r i t u a l and imaginative, y e t we see them as d e f i n i t e l y as we could any m a t e r i a l p l a c e s or people. C e r t a i n l y the p i c t u r e s which R o s s e t t i p a i n t e d so many years l a t e r to i l l u s t r a t e h i s d e s c r i p t i o n of the maiden give l i t t l e i d e a of ah i n v i s i b l e , s p i r i t u a l being. "She had three l i l i e s i n her hand and the s t a r s i n her h a i r were seven," while "Her h a i r that l a y along her back was yellow l i k e r i p e c o r n . " both the d e s c r i p t i o n and the p i c t u r e have the d e t a i I s which might be expected from one who had a c t u a l l y seen her. The house of God, moreover, i s no shadowy cloud palace but a b u t t r e s s e d c a s t l e of the Middle Ages. The Queen of Heaven s i t s surrounded by her maids " .whose names -Are f i v e sweet symphonies, C e c i l y , Gertrude, Magdalen, Margaret and Rosalys." And they are engaged i n spinning (as the attendants of any medieval lady might be ) f o r i t i s they who f a s h i o n the golden b i r t h robes " f o r them who are j u s t born, being dead." I t i s a p e r f e c t l y r e a l i s t i c p i c t u r e o f a purely imaginative and un--135-r e a l scene. In the sonnet S t i l l b o r n Love too, there i s a c l e a r v i s u a l i z a t i o n of the u n s e e n — t h e l i t t l e , l o n e l y , outcast hour which on the "immortal s t r a n d " j o y f u l l y g reeted the f i n a l l y wedded s o u l s — "And leaped to them and i n t h e i r f a c e s yearned;--'I am your c h i l d ; 0 p a r e n t s , ye have come!'" While i n another sonnet, 1" death i s " . . . . . . an i n f a n t C h i l d ..Which her worn mother L i f e upon my knee Has set to grow my f r i e n d and p l a y w i t h me." Song has h a i r which "blew l i k e a flame and blossomed l i k e a wreath;" and a r t , eyes which "were worlds by God found f a i r . " So r e a l to R o s s e t t i was the unseen which mingles with and transcends our v i s i b l e world t h a t he endowed i t with the p h y s i c a l and m a t e r i a l a t t r i b u t e s of the w or Id which he saw and l o v e d . In consequence of h i s apprehension o f the dualism of the world and o f man's nature, of the s p i r i t u a l and p h y s i c a l which, while mingled, are s t i l l c o n s t a n t l y at war w i t h each other, comes a "conception o f r e t r i b u t i o n and punish-ment 'not (as Hegel puts i t ) as something a r b i t r a r y , but as the other h a l f of s i n . " t 2 . Thus Rose Mary b r i n g s about her unhappiness and f i n a l l y her death through her own s e c r e t s i n ; and though she i s f i n a l l y j u s t i f i e d because of her true heart 1. R o s s e t t i , D.G., "Newborn Death", op. c i t . , p. 230. 2. Wood, E s t h e r , op. c i t . , p. 233. -136 of l o v e , she has "been o b l i g e d to pass through s u f f e r i n g which came upon her by no out s i d e agency, but p u r e l y as a r e s u l t o f her own a c t i o n . S i m i l a r l y S i s t e r Helen, although she achieves her vengeance, pays w i t h the l o s s of her own s o u l f o r her crime of w i t c h c r a f t . "»AhJ what white t h i n g at the door has cro s s ' d , S i s t e r Helen? Ah', what i s t h i s t h a t sighs i n the f r o s t ? ' 'A s o u l t h a t ' s l o s t as mine i s l o s t , L i t t l e b r o t h e r ! ' " The B r i d e ' s P r e l u d e , incomplete as i t i s , i s simply a p i c t u r e of the t e r r i b l e r e t r i b u t i o n which came upon Aloyse as the d i r e c t r e s u l t of her wrong doing. The consciousness of her g u i l t weighed upon her heart t i l l a l l her l i f e was a nightmare of shame and d e s p a i r . "My shame possessed me i n the l i g h t .- And pageant, t i l l I swooned." Most orue 1 was the memory of her l o s t c h i l d . "The mother leaned along, i n thought , A f t e r her c h i l d ; t i l l t e a r s , B i t t e r , n o t l i k e a wedded g i r l ' s P e l l down her b r e a s t along her c u r l s And ran i n the c l o s e work o f p e a r l s , " And as the f i n a l phase of her t e r r i b l e self-wrought s u f f e r i n g , i n o rder to c l e a r the honour of her house, she i s to be u n i t e d to the man who betrayed her and whom she now hates w i t h a l l her s o u l , Yet a l l her punishment c o n s i s t s of the p e r f e c t l y n a t u r a l consequences of her surrender to that lower nature which i n every man and woman i s waging a constant s t r u g g l e w i t h the higher and n o b l e r urges so s t r a n g e l y mingled w i t h i t . -137 .Likewise a r i s i n g from h i s consciousness of the d u a l -ism of human nature, we f i n d i n R o s s e t t i ' s p o e t r y a r e a l i z -a t i o n of the problem of the dual p o s s i b i l i t i e s of womanhood. By an indulgence of the lower side of her nature i s produced the p u r e l y p h y s i c a l and s e n s u a l beauty which i s embodied in R o s s e t t i 1 s c o n c e p t i o n o f Lady L i l i t h and d e s c r i b e d i n h i s sonnet Body's Beauty• "And s t i l l she s i t s , young while the e a r t h i s o l d , - And, s u b t l y of h e r s e l f contemplative, Draws men to watch the b r i g h t web she can w eave, T i l l heart and body and l i f e are i n i t s h o l d . " I f , on the other hand, she develop her higher impulses she may become an e x p r e s s i o n of ". . . that Lady Beauty, i n whose p r a i s e Thy voice and hand shake s t i l l , — l o n g known to thee By f l y i n g h a i r and f l u t t e r i n g hem,—the beat Fol l o w i n g her d a i l y of t h y heart and f e e t , How p a s s i o n a t e l y and i r r e t r i e v a b l y , In what fond f l i g h t , how many ways and days!" Or we may c o n t r a s t h i s touching d e s c r i p t i o n of the depraved but s t i l l l o v e l y Jenny, whose l i l i e s are dead and t h e i r p e t a l s "spread l i k e w i n t e r on the garden bed," w i t h h i s b e a u t i f u l p i c t u r e s of the pure young maiden who i s h e r s e l f "an angel watered l i l y that near God grows and i s q u i e t " . Both are women. "Of the same lump ( i t has been s a i d ) For honour and dishonour made, Two s i s t e r v e s s e l s . " 2 . 1. R o s s e t t i , D.G., "Soul's Beauty", op. c i t . , p. 218. 2. R o s s e t t i , D.G., "Jenny", op. c i t . , p. 95. -138-And Jenny's f e a t u r e s are as l o v e l y as those by which the p a i n t e r s of o l d represented Mary V i r g i n . But i n the one the p h y s i c a l element has been developed u n t i l the s p i r i t u a l i s almost l o s t ; i n the other the p h y s i c a l , recognized but con-t r o l l e d . , f u l f i l l e d , but n o t abused, i s mingled with a v e r y r e a l s p i r i t u a l l i f e . The d i f f e r e n c e between them i s as wide as that between death and l i f e , between h e l l and heaven. I t i s with the outlook o f mysticism too that R o s s e t t i f a c e s the problem of v i c a r i o u s s u f f e r i n g . With, h i s deep reverence f o r the person of C h r i s t as a s t a r t i n g p o i n t , he grows t o see i n him the s t a i n l e s s Paschal Iamb who became "(by h i s one o b l a t i o n of h i m s e l f once o f f e r e d ) a f u l l , p e r f e c t and s u f f i c i e n t s a c r i f i c e f o r the s i n s of the whole world." The s u f f e r i n g of the one atoned f o r the s i n of the many and through the death of an innocent man d i d "The seed 'o the woman b r u i s e the serpent's head". This b e l i e f l e a d s him to "moral c o l l e c t i v i s m , t h a t p r i n c i p l e t h a t 'soul must somehow pay f o r s o u l ' , " 1 * the innocent s u f f e r f o r the g u i l t y . For there i s , he sees, i n a l l humanity a s p i r i t u a l brotherhood, an "at-one-ment", which the Medieval Church recognized i n i t s c o n c e p t i o n of man as a member of a g r e a t s p i r i t u a l f a m i l y , the body o f C h r i s t . As R o s s e t t i h i m s e l f expresses i t i n h i s poem Soothsay; 1. Wood, E s t h e r , op. c i t . , p. 309. - 1 3 9 -"The w i l d waves ca s t up by the sea - Are d i v e r s e ever seasonably. Even so the s o u l - t i d e s s t i l l may land A d i f f e r e n t d r i f t upon the sand. But one the sea i s evermore: And one be s t i l l , twixt shore and shore, As the sea's l i f e , t h y s o u l i n thee." Because a l l souls oome from one g r e a t s p i r i t u a l source, a l l are r e a l l y merely d i f f e r e n t m a n i f e s t a t i o n s of the same l i f e ; t h e r e f o r e , s i n c e a l l are p a r t s of a great whole, there can, i n one sense, be no i n d i v i d u a l s i n or v i r t u e , and what appears to be the u n j u s t punishment of an innocent man i s "the other h a l f " of that s i n which i s l a i d to the account of humanity as a whole as h i s s u f f e r i n g w i l l be l a i d . That men should have l o s t s i g h t of t h i s s p i r i t u a l "at-one-ment" seems to R o s s e t t i one of the sadde st things i n h i s age. He laments i n the sonnet On the R e f u s a l of A i d Between Mations; " . . . . .Man i s p a r c e l l e d out i n men . Today; because, f o r any wrongful blow No man not s t r i c k e n asks, 'I would be t o l d Why thou dost thus;' but h i s heart whispers then, 'He i s he, I am I.' By t h i s we know That our e a r t h f a l l s asunder, being o l d . " Only by an apprehension of t h i s u n i v e r s a l brotherhood, t h i s strange union of s o u l with s o u l , can R o s s e t t i , a pparently, account s a t i s f a c t o r i l y f o r what appears to be the endless unmerited s u f f e r i n g i n the world of men; only by a r e c o g n i t i o n of the s p i r i t u a l bond, of the mysterious unseen of which we are a l l p a r t , can he p a r t i a l l y s o l v e the yet unanswered r i d d l e of l i f e . We see then that the i n f l u e n c e of Roman C a t h o l i c i s m -140-upon the trend o f Rossetti's thought was perhaps second in importance only to that of Dante, The two, however, are r a t h e r confused and the i n f l u e n c e of Dante may, in i t s religious and mystic aspects, be considered simply as a phase of the i n f l u e n c e o f Roman C a t h o l i c i s m , But however we t h i n k of them, i t i s certain that the mingling of body and soul, o f Heaven and e a r t h , to be d i s c e r n e d i n both, i s so magnified i n Rossetti's p o e t r y as to make i t "the embodiment of m y s t i c a l p a s s i o n " . He was always aware of mysterious s p i r i t u a l f o r c e s a t work in the w o r l d ; and, to him, they found e x p r e s s i o n through the p h y s i c a l which thus might take on an almost sac red s i g n i f i c a n c e . In the words of Mr. Payne • "He was at once the most s p i r i t u a l and the mo st m a t e r i a l of poets; and the a c c u s a t i o n of s e n s u a l i t y from which he was made to suffer c o u l d only result from i n a b i l i t y to see more than one side of the D r u i d s h i e l d of h i s p o e t i c p e r s o n a l i t y . " 1 * 1, Payne, W.M., "D. G. Rossetti", Warner's L i b r a r y of the World•s Best L i t e r a t u r e , ( J . A. H i l l and Company, Mew York, 1896)., v o l , XXI, p. 12415. -141-CHAPTER VII MEDIEVALISM IN ROSSETTI1S PAINTINGS The three f o r e g o i n g sections have shown t h a t the poetry of Dante with i t s glorification of love and of Beatrice, the gorgeous pageantry of Chivalry, and the mystic faith and quaint legends of the Roman C a t h o l i c Church are the c h i e f elements of Rossetti's medievalism as evidenced i n h i s poetry. But R o s s e t t i was a p a i n t e r as w e l l as a poet, and his drawings demonstrate the medieval qualities of h i s mind and work qu i t e as clearly as do h i s poems. Indeed no d i s c u s s i o n of his medievalism can he complete without a consideration of h i s pictures; for painting occupied quite as important a p l a c e i n h i s l i f e as d i d writing, which, i n h i s youth at l e a s t , was kept subordinate to i t . In 1848, indeed, he submitted some of h i s poems to Leigh Hunt, who replied t h a t he recognized i n them "an unquestionable poet, t h o u g h t f u l and imaginative and w i t h rare powers of e x p r e s s i o n , " But guessed that he was alto-gether "not so m u s i c a l as p i c t o r i a l ; " adding t h a t i f he p a i n t -ed he might become a r i c h .man, which he would never do as a poet, f o r poetry " i s not a t h i n g for a man to live upon while he i s i n the flesh, however immortal i t may render him i n s p i r i t , " 1 " 8 Accepting t h i s a d v i c e , Rossetti devoted h i m s e l f to p a i n t i n g though often i n a d e s u l t o r y way which at times aroused 1. Quoted by Gary, E.L., op. c i t . , p. 117. -142-the i r e of h i s f a t h e r , who d e c l a r e d him to he wasting time when he should have been working. About 1853 he i s supposed t e have decided to adopt p a i n t i n g as a p r o f e s s i o n , and even before t h a t , In a f a m i l y l e t t e r dated 1852, appears the. s t a t e -ment "I have abandoned p o e t r y " , 1 , I t was, a p p a r e n t l y a re s o l u t i o n e a s i e r to make than to keep, f o r to these years belong some of h i s b e s t known poems—The B r i d e ' s Prelude, Dante at Verona, A l a s t Confession, Jenny, The Burden of Pine yah, S t rat ton Water, W e l l i n g t o n ' s F u n e r a l , The S t a f f and  S c r i p , S i s t e r Helen. Some of them, however, as Jenny and .The:  B r i d e ' s Prelude, were not completed as e a r l y as the beginning -of 1854, R o s s e t t i i s s u e d no c o l l e c t i o n of h i s poems u n t i l seven years a f t e r the death of h i s w i f e . Then those which had been b u r i e d w i t h her were exhumed from the c o f f i n and p u b l i s h e d • w i t h some l a t e r compositions i n 1869. U n t i l that date h i s fame r e s t e d c h i e f l y upon h i s p a i n t i n g s . The c l o s e c o n n e c t i o n between the two forms of h i s a r t may be i n f e r r e d from h i s h a b i t of f r e q u e n t l y w r i t i n g sonnets to i l l u s t r a t e h i s p i c t u r e s . T h i s custom gave r i s e to 2 • Mr. W h i s t l e r ' s famous s t o r y . To quote Mr. Gary's account; ' W h i s t l e r on one o c c a s i o n found him "Quite eager over a pro-j e c t e d p i c t u r e w i t h which, some weeks l a t e r , he was progress-1. R o s s e t t i , W.M., op. c i t . , p. 168. 2. Cary, E.L., The R o s s e t t i s , (G.P.Putnam's Sons, New York and London, 1900), p. 32. ~ -143-i n g ' f i n e l y ' , — t h e frame having been made f o r the s t i l l blank canvas. L a t e r s t i l l , while the canvas was yet p r i s t i n e , a l l was reported as going w e l l , the sonnet having been w r i t t e n . W h i s t l e r ' s s u g g e s t i o n at t h i s point was that the sonnet should be put i n the frame, and the work considered over." A l l through h i s l i f e , because p a i n t i n g and w r i t i n g were so o f t e n going on p r a c t i c a l l y simultaneously, there i s n o t i c e a b l e a s o r t of p a r a l l e l i s m between the poems and the p i c t u r e s . I t i s not s u r p r i s i n g then, that we can t r a c e i n R o s s e t t i 5 s p a i n t i n g s the same elements of Medievalism which we found i n h i s p o e t r y . In the f i r s t p l a c e , the s u b j e c t s of many of h i s p i c t u r e s , as of h i s poems, r e v e a l h i s i n t e r e s t i n the Middle Ages. The Dante theme, f o r example, i s very important. There i s the pen and i n k of Dante drawing an angel from the  Memory o f B e a t r i c e , which belongs to 1851. I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g as being R o s s e t t i ' s f i r s t i l l u s t r a t i o n o f the V i t a Nuova. L a t e r came the water c o l o u r of B e a t r i c e a t the wedding f e a s t  denying her s a l u t a t i o n to Dante. For t h i s p i c t u r e , Miss S i d d a l was p a i n t e d as B e a t r i c e . She i s shown, i n the words of Mr. H u e f f e r , as "a haut beauty w i t h h a l f - c l o s e d eyes and a pose of f o r b i d d i n g drawing-back," 1' The best known r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of her as B e a t r i c e , however, i s i n the Beata B e a t r i x which R o s s e t t i p a i n t e d i n her memory about a year a f t e r her death, 1. H u e f f e r , F.M., R o s s e t t i , (Due lew or t h and Company, London, B.P.Dutton, New York, 19OS), p. 43. -144-as Dante had-drawn his angel. In a trance just before her end, she is seated on a balcony with upturned face bathed in the light of the setting sun. Behind her on the street can be seen the figures of Dante and of Love, who bears in his hand a flaming heart, on the ledge beside her a sundial marls:s the passing of time; and a dove bears in i t s beak a scarlet poppy which i t i s about to lay in her hands. On several occasions did Rossetti attempt the subject of The Salutation of Beatrice; at one time, in a water colour representing the meeting as occuring in the portico of a church; again, in a diptych, show-ing , in one compartment, Beatrice saluting Dante in a street in Plorence, in the other, their meeting in the fields of Paradise; and, in a third design, portraying her alone in the streets of Florence but within sight of Dante. There i s also the picture entitled The Boat of Love, having i t s origin in one of Dante's sonnets addressed to Guido Cavalcanti, The poet wishes that he, Guido and Lapo Gianni might take a voyage with their ladies—"O'er seas to move and not to talk of any-thing but love."—Rossetti represents the three pairs of lovers embarking in a boat which has for i t s steersman an angel. S t i l l another famous painting inspired by Dante is the Dante's Dream, illustrating the poet's vision of the death of his lady. On a couch lies Beatrice clad in white robes, while her maidens spread over her a purple pall f i l l e d with May blossoms. Through an opening in the roof is seen a flight of angels -145-bearing away her soul in the. shape of a white cloud. And love, h o l d i n g Dante by the hand, bends and k i s s e s B e a t r i c e thus making himself the r e c o n c i l e r between l i f e and death, of the incidents recorded by Dante a f t e r the death o f B e a t r i c e , R o s s e t t i has i l l u s t r a t e d , besides the passage concerning the a n n i v e r s a r y of her death, Dante's d e s c r i p t i o n of the p i t i f u l lady of the window who "became pale and of a piteous counten-ance as though i t had been with love" whenever she saw him. R o s s e t t i ' s picture is an unfinished study entitled Our Lady of  Pity and r e p r e s e n t s a b e a u t i f u l , dark woman w i t h true R o s s e t t i hands, and in her face,, as Mrs. Wood expresses i t " a l l the depth, a l l the tenderness, a l l the heroic s t r e n g t h of a d i v i n e sorrow t h a t sees the end of sorrow,"1* But the i n f l u e n c e of Dante i n the poe t r y of R o s s e t t i d i d not cease w i t h the treatment of themes i n s p i r e d d i r e c t l y by the medieval poet. I t permeated h i s whole thought and a f f e c t e d e s p e c i a l l y his c o n c e p t i o n o f love which f o r him took on a s p i r i t u a l q u a l i t y much l i k e t h a t of Dante's f o r B e a t r i c e . Woman too was i d e a l i z e d and regarded as an embodi-ment of the mystery and beauty of a l l l i f e . It i s i n the sonnets of the House of Life that we observe most c l e a r l y t h i s Dantesque i n f l u e n c e . With t h e i r g l o r i f i c a t i o n o f l o v e , their i d e a l i z a t i o n of the beloved, they seem an echo of D a n t e 1 s v o i c e i n a modern world. P a r a l l e l i n g these sonnets 1. wood, E s t h e r , op. c i t , , p. 257. -146-with t h e i r medieval outlook are R o s s e t t i 1 s numerous p o r t r a i t s of women. Such p i c t u r e s as Lady L i l i t h , Pandora, Prose r p i n e . Piametta are more than mere p o r t r a i t s ; they are expressions of l i f e i t s e l f . Lady L i l i t h , surrounded by her roses and comb-i n g her b e a u t i f u l golden h a i r w i t h which she ensnares the h e a r t s o f men, r e p r e s e n t s sensual beauty and i l l i c i t love. Pandora, mourning over her opened box from which a l l the s p i r i t s are escaping, seems,to stand f o r the g r i e f o f mankind over i t s i n f i r m i t i e s , P r o s e r p i n e , having eaten the forbidden f r u i t of lower knowledge, longs i n v a i n for the pure upper world which she can now I n h a b i t o n l y f o r l i m i t e d seasons. She i s the s u l l i e d soul g r i e v i n g for her lost innocence. While Piametta, bowered in apple blossoms, w i t h the j o y o f new l i f e i n her l o v e l y eyes, i s the embodiment of e t e r n a l youth and s p r i n g — w a presage and a promise . . . .as 'twere on Death's dark storm the rainbow of the S o u l . " In these p i c t u r e s the s u b j e c t s are more than merely b e a u t i f u l women; they are e x p r e s s i o n s of t r u t h s o f l i f e . Not, of course, t h a t R o s s e t t i always g l o r i f i e d h i s models thus. Often, as i n Le J o l l Ooeur, Lady w i t h the Pan, and The Loving Cup, he merely p a i n t s t h e i r p o r t r a i t s , but when, as i n the p i c t u r e s d i s c u s s e d , he expresses through them an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f l i f e , we f e e l the shadow of Dante's i d e a l i z a t i o n of h i s B e a t r i c e and th e r e f o r e of the thought of the Middle Ages, R o s s e t t i ' s poems of c h i v a l r y , p a r t i c u l a r l y such -147- , v i s i o n a r y compositions as The S t a f f and S c r i p a l s o have c e r -t a i n p i c t u r e s which seem to correspond w i t h them i n t h e i r g e n e r a l theme and f e e l i n g . The s e n s a t i o n of the u n r e a l i t y of the whole, the v i v i d n e s s o f imagination i n c e r t a i n r e s p e c t s , the r i c h wealth o f medieval d e t a i l , a l l of which are so n o t i c e -able i n - t h e poems, are repeated i n the p a i n t i n g s . The water c o l o u r , The Wedding of S t . George, f o r example, r e p r e s e n t s an episode unrecorded i n the legend of the k n i g h t — h i s marriage to the P r i n c e s s S a l e r a whom he has rescued from the dragon. The whole atmosphere i s as u n r e a l as the event; the knigh t i s an i d e a l i s e d I t a l i a n - m e d i e v a l f i g u r e i n gold armour ; g olden angels s t r i k e a row of l i t t l e b e l l s . Yet i n strange c o n t r a s t , the p r i n c e s s i s a r e a l woman; and from the corner of a box pro t r u d e s a d e l i b e r a t e l y humorous dragon's head; while the e n t i r e p i c t u r e i s decorated with numberless medieval d e t a i l s and o b j e c t s , most of them quite unnecessary. The Christmas  C a r o l r e p r e s e n t s a g i r l p l a y i n g an ancient instrument resembling a harmonium, while a f i g u r e on one side o f her combs her h a i r and another on the other side takes down some t i l i n g from a s h e l f . The costumes are done w i t h a good d e a l of minuteness, the hands of the p l a y e r are s u r p r i s i n g l y r e a l and the f i g u r e behind r e a l l y reaches up, but the whole, l i k e the former p i c t u r e , i s only a b e a u t i f u l dream. E q u a l l y charming and u n r e a l are the Tune of Seven Towers and The Blue Closet f o r which R o s s e t t i ' s f r i e n d , W i l l i a m M o r r i s , wrote a poem by the -148-same t i t l e . Arthur's f omb, probably inspired by Rossetti's reading of Tennyson's Mort d'Arthur. likewise represents an episode not recorded by legend—the appearance of Launcelot's ghost to Guinevere at the tomb of Arthur. Also dealing with the Arthurian legend are Launcelot in Guinevere's Chamber. . H * showing the meeting where the lovers were discovered together and launcelot' s hand wounded in a struggle; and Sir Tristram and La Belle Yesuit, which portrays the two unfortunate lovers drinking the fatal potion. Many of these pictures represent events which are not known to have taken place , but a l l might have occurred in those legendary days of romance and adventure. And a l l , with their quaint costumes, their strange jewel-Ilk© colouring breath most truly the spirit of the Middle Ages. There are ; too, several pictures, as there are several poems, dealing with religious subjects. Such are Rossetti's two earliest paintings. The f i r s t of these, already referred to several times, The Girlhood of Mary  "Virgin, shows the maiden, working with her mother, S t . Anna, at an embroidery frame. Outside the window S t . Joachim trains a vine which takes the shape of a cross. On the floor beside the two seated figures are six large books; on top of them stands a t a l l , white l i l y guarded by a quaint l i t t l e child angel. In Bcce Ancilla Domini, or The Annunciation, Mary has grown a l i t t l e older. Just awakened from sleep, she faces a white clad angel with an expression of wonder in her eyes. -149-The o u t s t a n d i n g impression g i v e n by this p i c t u r e i s i t s white-ness, which the r e l i e v i n g c o l o u r s — t h e red of the embroidery, the g o l d of the g i r l ' s h a l o , — s e r v e only to emphasize. So long was i t i n s e l l i n g that i t was termed by the painter "the white eyesore" and "The blessed white daub". " I t s most r e a l value as a work of art", says Mr. H u e f f e r , " l i e s In i t s catching, not of the religious, but of the human emotions of the V i r g i n — o f a young g i r l confronted by one of the great moments of l i f e . I t exists, and w i l l p r obably continue to e x i s t , on t h a t account r a t h e r than on any o t h e r — a s a piece of t y p i c a l l i f e observed and. rendered r a t h e r than an i l l u s t r a t i o n of a l i t e r a r y i n c i d e n t . " 1 . These two p i c t u r e s , be i t noted, express the same r e v e r e n t i a l a t t i t u d e toward the Virgin which has been seen i n v a r i o u s of the r e l i g i o u s poems. A f t e r these compositions, R o s s e t t i p r a c t i c a l l y abandoned the r e l i g i o u s . f i e l d , and only two or three other drawings can be i n c l u d e d i n t h i s group. The Passover in the Holy Family and Mary Magda-lene at the door o f Simon the Pharisee have a l r e a d y been d i s -cussed i n c o n n e c t i o n with the sonnets w r i t t e n f o r them. An e a r l y p i c t u r e , Bethlehem Gate shows the Holy Family i n flight from the Massacre of the Innocents; The C r u c i f i x i o n represents John l e a d i n g the Madonna from C a l v a r y ; and Mary i n the House  off John portrays the new home where they waited together f o r the fulfilment of C h r i s t • s promise, "Surely I came q u i c k l y " . 1. Hueffer, F.M., op. c i t . , p. 3 6 . -150-John has been writing and Mary lights a lamp which hangs at the intersection of the window bars so that the light shines from the centre of the cross where the head of Christ should be—a delicate emblem of glory through sacrifice, of the light which lightens the darkness of sorrow. The treatment of these pictures is characterized by the same tendencies which have been noticed in Rossetti»s poetry. Very outstanding in their mystic quality—the abid-ing consciousness of that unseen and spiritual world which i s so strangely mingled with the physical; —witness the frequency with which he combines supernatural elements with human and real i s t i c features. Such are the child angel in The Girlhood of Mary Virgin, Gabrie1 in Bcce Ancllla Domini, the golden angels in The Wedding of St. George, the spirits of the man and woman in How They Met. Themselves, the figure of 1 ow- in Bea.ta Beatrix. The reality of such beings in the mind of the artist is evidenced by their vivid representation. There is no difference, in The Girlhood of Mary Virgin. and go ce  Ami 11a Domini, between the drawing of the angels and that of the human figures; a l l are equally substantial; in How They Met Themselves the wraiths of the man and woman are scarcely more shadowy than the figures of the lovers themselves; and love, in the Beata Beatrix, i s no less clearly seen than Dante. In his paintings, then, as In his poems, Rossetti insists on that mingling of the spiritual and the physical -151-which is so characteristic of his mode of thought. That phase of mysticism known as symbolism i s , as we have already pointed out, even more important on the pictorial side of Rossetti* s work than on the poetic. His idealization of women into symbols of various phases of l i f e has already been discussed. But also the bent of his mind, which cons tantly interpreted things unseen in the terms of things seen, delighted in reaffirming in the details of a picture the thought already expressed in the subject as a whole. In addition to the symbols already pointed out, we may notice that the character of Venus Astarte i s shown in the ros.es and honeysuckle by which she is surrounded; and that Beatrice in Dante1s Dream i s being covered with May blossoms to signify that the end came in the springtime of her l i f e . In Mary Magdalene at the door of Simon the Pharisee, the vine on the wall of the house takes the form of a cross, symbolic of the day that i s to come, when shall "the seed o' the woman bruise the serpent's head". While in Bethlehem gate, representing the Holy Family escaping from the wrath of Herod, an angel beside the Madonna bears a palm branch, emblem of delivrance and reward. Thus constantly did Rossetti translate things urB.een into visible expressions of his thought* The moral tone observable in his poetry is likewise repeated in his pictures. The inevitable punishment which must follow sin as i t s "other half" i s finely suggested in -152-glng Arthur's Tomb, Here Queen Guinevere, now an aged, and honoured abbess, v i s i t i n g the tomb o f her husband, i s con-fronted by the t e r r i b l e ghost of l a u n c e l o t ; while, as Mrs, Wood points out, the converse side of the p i c t u r e i s seen i n the design f o r the Oxford Debating Union, S i r launcelot  before, the Shrine of the Holy Grail, "He seems," she says, "to have almost attained the goal of h i s p i l g r i m a g e , the Holy G r a i l i s j u s t w i t h i n his grasp; but i n the hour that might have brought v i c t o r y , the old s i n b r i n g s mockery and defeat; the face that l o o k s out at him from the place of h i s hope i s the sad, r e p r o a c h f u l face of Guinevere,"1" The same t r u t h is suggested i n the P a o l a and Franc esc a da R i m i n i . The p i c t u r e shows the f i r s t embrace of the l o v e r s , but a l r e a d y , under a c u r t a i n , i s seen the f o o t of the approaching husband, bringing w i t h him i n e v i t a b l e r e t r i b u t i o n . While Found i s simply a p o r t r a y a l of the punishment which "as the night the day" must f o l l o w s i n : "AhI gave not these two h e a r t s t h e i r mutual pledge, Under one mantle, s h e l t e r e d 'neath the hedge In gloaming c o u r t s h i p ? And. 0 God J today He only knows he holds h e r ; — b u t what part Can l i f e now take? She c r i e s i n her locked h e a r t , — • Leave me — I do not know you—go away I' " 2 • A realization of the d u a l p o t e n t i a l i t y of woman i s a l s o to be found i n R o s s e t t i ' s p a i n t i n g s . As in the poems, 1. Wood, E s t h e r , op. c i t . , pp. 235-34. 2. R o s s e t t i , D.G., "Found", op. c i t . , p. 360. -153-there are represented both types, — the spiritual and the physical, beauty of soul and beauty of body. On the one hand are such intellectually and spiritually lovely faces as those of Beatrice, Monna Vanna, Sibylla Palmifera, Fiametta, Joan of Arc, and Mary Virgin. They are a l l representations of that nobility of womanhood which may "make brutes men and men divine". But also he shows us the shameful actuality which i s too often found. Such i s the tragic woman in Found, the sensuous appeal of lady l i l i t h , and the yet shamed figure of Ye sterday"s Ho se. So did he interpret and express the mysterious dualism of woman and man, in whom ev i l constantly wars with good in a struggle which has at stake the develop-ment or destruction of a human soul. "For the wages of sin i s death, but the g i f t of God i s eternal l i f e . " It is not that Rossetti always set himself delib-erately to express a moral truth in his paintings. Sometimes, to be sure, he did so, but such pictures are seldom his best. As Mr, Hueffer expresses i t : "When he was content, being in a certain mood, to observe and record, he was up to the limit of his powers successful; when he attempted to point his moral, to illustrate his mood, he was most liable to f a i l and to f a i l by exaggerating. It was a question of getting hold of one end or other of the stick . . . . . . Rossetti at his best was a painter in, not of, moods. He was most successful when, having recorded a type of feminine beauty—or even -154-repuIsive ness—he afterwards found a name for i t ; stood back in fact from his canvas and only then discovered the moral of what he had been painting." 1 . Even technically Rossetti has at least one character-i s t i c which might be termed "medieval". This is his use of clear, b r i l l i a n t colour. The most popular painters of his day shuddered at the thought of such crudeness as the painting of grass in its actual green. To their minds, such a colour should be toned down into a soft brown such as that found in the work of the Old Masters. In order to achieve this effect of age they deliberately covered over their pictures with varnish and used a spha ltum in their paint. (Mr. Mad ox Brown t e l l s us that Rossetti loved to quote from the diary of B. R. Haydon; "Locked my door and dashed at my picture with a brush dripping with aspha1turn.") Rossetti, however, insisted that the old masters themselves had originally used bright colours and that he too would represent objects as they really appeared to the eye. Hence his pictures are characterized by the pure, bright tone of colour which distinguishes him from so many of his contemporaries. The jewel-like effect of such a picture as The Beloved; the rich brilliance of Beata Beatrix, The Blue Closet, or La Ghirlandata constitutes one of their greatest charms and i s as important to their effect as in the use of picturesque and colourful words in poetry. This 1. Hue f far, P.M. , op. c i t . , pp. 142-44. -155-praotice in colouring sets him apart from the great body of painters of his time and links him with the painters of a day when art s t i l l looked to nature rather than to Raphael and his followers for i t s inspiration. And here, perhaps, should be said something concern-ing the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, i t s aims, and Rossetti's connection with i t . At a time when art was governed entirely by the precepts of Sir Joshua Reynolds, a few men realized that some change from the formal and li f e l e s s style of painting then in vogue was absolutely imperative . The popular artists of the day simply followed the advice of Sir Joshua when he told them to copy the old Masters; always to obey the rules of Raphael as to proportions, colouring, etc., so that nature, which i s not always beautiful, may be made so by means of his corrections; then, when the student could paint about as well as the Master could and in the same style, to add something original of his own; thus would he become an artis t . Such a method naturally produced painters who were l i t t l e better than copyists; their technique was frequently unexceptionable; but there was no v i t a l i t y , no l i f e , frequently even no thought in their work. They simply copied and attempted to improve on what had been done hundreds of times before. A l i t t l e group of young men, —Rossetti, Hoiman Hunt and Millais were the originals, with Madox Brown as friend and adviser, — r e a l i z e d that true art, in England, was at the point -156 was of death. They f e l t that a painter's inspiration should come primarily from the object to be reproduced, not from another' mail's interpretation of i t • that the message conveyed by the work was as important as i t s technique ; and that l i f e , not other pictures, should furnish subjects. This, of course, simply a movement parallel to the Romantic Movement in l i t e r -ature after the Heo-Classical Period of the eighteenth century, when literature had become almost as Imitative, and formal as was art now. In looking back over history these men thought that they should see i n the very early Renaissance art of Italy a s p i r i t similar to their own. In those days, i t seemed to them, painting, which for many years had been lifeless and stereotyped, employed almost entirely for religious purposes and limited by many conventions, began to take on a new vigour. The influence of long forgotten classic literature, of human-ism, began to make i t s e l f f e l t in this sphere as well as in others. Painting, they thought, began to express l i f e , to reproduce real people rather than conventional figures. Whether i t actually did so or not has l i t t l e bearing on the question. The young men had small knowledge of early Italian art, but they believed that i t had such vigour and freedom as they desired to infuse into their own. Therefore they took the name of Pre-Raphaelites e The group, as such, lasted only a short time. It was, according to Mr. Holman Hunt, directly inspired by a book -157-found one night at the home of M i l l a i s — l a s i n i o ' s engravings of the Campo Santo in Pisa. That was in 1848. By 1851 the brotherhood was dissolved. But during that time they had issued several numbers of their paper infelicitously named The .Germ, in the f i r s t of which were stated their aims, and had produced a number of works which take their place among the treasures of English art. Their purpose, according to W. H. Rossetti was simply: 1 11. To have genuine ideas to express; 2, to study nature attentively so as to know how to express them; 3, to sympathize with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parading and learned by rote ; and 4, and most indispensable of a l l , to produce thoroughly good pictures and statues." 8 Such an organization, it is apparent, brought no new elements of medievalism into Rossetti 1 s l i f e . It was ra the r a cry stalization of his own previous ideas; instead of i t s influencing him, it was he who influenced i t , to such an extent that he i s frequently regarded as i t s leader. His pictures produced during i t s existence — The Girlhood of Mary Virgin and Sees Anc i l i a Domini—do, by their quaint medieval accessories and their choice of subject, recall the Old Masters. But this is a result of Rossetti's study of the Italian Middle Ages rather than of early Italian art, of 1. Rossetti, W.M. , op. c i t . , p. 135. -168-which he had a c t u a l l y l i t t l e f i r s t - h a n d knowledge. He was in r e v o l t a g a i n s t the accepted canons of the Academy and because he was Italian and had s t u d i e d the Middle Ages w i t h great i n t e r e s t h i s p a i n t ings have a quaintness and a mysticism which strongly recall the early Italian a r t . But the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, r a t h e r than being regarded as one of the i n f l u e n c e s toward medievalism i n his l i f e , may better be considered as another expression of his medievalism. So although the Brotherhood i t s e l f soon passed, the medieval quality of Rossetti's a r t did not. As I have attempt-ed to show, i t was as s t r o n g l y ingrained in h i s p a i n t i n g as i n his poetry. The ideas and dreams of a bygone day were always so s t r o n g l y present i n h i s mind that at times he seems almost l i k e a medieval f i g u r e l o s t i n a V i c t o r i a n world. The mystic and yet human q u a l i t y of h i s p i c t u r e s i s as f o r e i g n to the average art of h i s day as would be Dante 1 s Divine Commedy to. the l i t e r a t u r e of the e i g h t e e n t h century. For to him many t h i n g s of the colourful and romantic past were f a r more r e a l and admirable than those of h i s v e r y p r a c t i c a l and p r o s a i c p r e s e n t . T h i s f e e l i n g i n r e l a t i o n to h i s p a i n t i n g , he ex-presses i n one of h i s sonnets on Old and New A r t — H o t as These : ' " I am not as these a r e ' , the poet s a i t h In youth's pri d e , and the p a i n t e r , among men At bay, where never p e n c i l comes nor pen, And shut about with h i s own frozen breath. To others, f o r whom only rhyme wins f a i t h -159-As poets,—only paint as painters,—then He turns in the cold silence; and again Shrinking, 'I am not as these are', he saith. And say that this is so, what follows i t ? For were thine eyes set backward in thine head, Such words were well, but they see on, and fa r . Unto the lights of the great Past, new-lit Fair for the Future's track, look thou instead, Say thou instead, 'I am not as these are„'" -160-CHAPTER YIII CONCLUSION J The medievalism of Rossetti i s , as have demon-strated, divisible into three main elements—those of Dante, of Chivalry, and of Roman Catholicism. Of these the f i r s t i s by far the most pervasive. lot only is i t reflected in the subjects of several of Rossetti's poems, but his whole treat-ment of the love theme i s coloured by Dante ' s worshipful adoration of Beatrice, and his glorification of the ethics of Courtly love. Even Rossetti 5s mode of expression is so affected, consciously or unconsciously, by the phrases and imagery of his great namesake, that while reading the poetry of the modern Dante we seem constantly to be hearing echoes of the medieval. Often i t i s only a word or a turn of thought not definite enough to be traced to any particular passage as a source, but sufficient to make us exclaim mentally, "Dante". The Roman Catholic element, second in importance to the -s, Dantesque , also affected Rossetti's thought in addition to inspiring various poems. It was not, however, the dogma of the Church which interested the poet, but i t s beautiful legends and mystic faith. These are responsible for the poet's emphasis on the dualism of a world in which the spiritual and the physical are so strangely mingled. The supernatural, to him, was a vary real force in the universe. These two elements of Rossetti's medievalism—the ideas of - 1 6 1 -Dante and of Roman Catholicism—are, at times, almost impossible to separate, for the mysticism of Dante in his Divine Comedy is based on the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church; and so when Rossetti writes of a l i f e after death, he is frequently combining ideas derived indistinguishably from the two sources. The Chivalric element i s , rather surpris-ingly, the least influential of the three. It appealed to Rossetti mainly from a picturesque point of view, affecting his thought only i n respect of the Courtly love regulations, which, after a l l , belong properly to the sphere of Dante whose poetry is the apotheosis of Courtly Love. These influences, be it noted, are a l l literary. They were the result of the poe t's early reading of knightly adventure, supernatural tales, and, later, the poetry of Dante and the early Italian soneteers. Of the actual l i f e of the Middle Ages he had l i t t l e definite knowledge. Therefore i t is not surprising that the medieval world of his creating is a beautiful dream land and that much of his art gives an impression of unreality. If we for a moment compare the actual medievalism of such a writer as Chaucer, who admits into his poetry, a l l sorts of people, high and low, picturesque and grotesque, fearlessly and uncompromisingly representing them as they appeared to him in daily l i f e , with Rossetti's decorative and highly selective art, his enchanted regions of romance. we realize at once the difference between the realist -162-and the idealist. - Chaucer reproduced what he saw; Rossetti, what ho would like to have seen. So we find that his characters are frequently merely graceful figures rather than real people. Rose Mary, Queen Blanchelys, Sir James of Heronhaye—what do we really know of them? We watch them play their parts with interest but with-out ever, identifying ourselves with them as we do with, say, Dickens' characters. Nor do we feel that we should immediately recognize them i f we happened to meet them. And in a l l the glittering group there is not one who stands out with the complete reality and vividness of such a personage as Chaucer's Wife of Bath. Equally vague and nebulous are the backgrounds of Rossetti's poems. While reading The Bride's Prelude and Rose Mary we are conscious of being in feudal castles, but just what they look like or where they are situated we cannot t e l l . We leave them 'with the feeling of one waking from a dream who, remembering that he has been wandering in a beautiful country, is unable to recall or describe i t distinctly. The supernatural elements so frequently intro-duced do not at a l l help to create an impression of actual l i f e . Such things as the magic beryl stone and Sister Helen's witchcraft, being removed from the common experience of the average reader, serve rather to strengthen the feeling of unreality. While such a poem as love 1s Hoc turn i s the essence of dreamy beauty. -163-This effect i s , of course, produced by Rossetti's very c a r e f u l s e l e c t i o n of the elements admitted into h i s work. •The ugly and the b r u t a l aspects of medieval l i f e are simply d i s r e g a r d e d . There are, with one or two exceptions, no peasants or poor f o l k i n h i s poems; only g a l l a n t k n i g h t s and b e a u t i f u l l a d i e s , are p o r t r a y e d , with a few angels and other , b l e s s e d s p i r i t s . Art has, of course, a perfect r i g h t to he-selective. Indeed, by i t s very nature i t must be so; for i t i s by means of s e l e c t i o n that i t creates an interpretation of l i f e which i s f r e q u e n t l y t r u e r than a c t u a l i t y . And R o s s e t t i ' s i n s i s t e n c e on the beauty and mystery of the Middle Ages no doubt results in a p i c t u r e o f the p e r i o d which i s t r u e r to h i s conception o f the s p i r i t of that age than i t s a c t u a l l i f e would have been. But i t i s not a complete representation of the l i f e of the times such as Chaucer gives us. I t i s i n s t e a d a h i g h l y i d e a l i z e d p o r t r a y a l of the most picturesque aspects of medieval life-~the p o r t r a y a l of a dreamer who saw in the past a l l the l o v e l i n e s s which he found so seldom i n the present. Many of his p a i n t i n g s show this even more clearly than do h i s poems. The Wedding of Saint George, The Christmas Carol, The Blue, C l o s e t , Dante's Dream—all are a r t i s t i c but chiefly imaginative portrayals of a charmed medieval age, glowing w i t h "the l i g h t t h a t never was on land or sea". In c o n c l u s i o n , I cannot do b e t t e r than to quote a paragraph by James Sinetham. I t was w r i t t e n in reference to -164 The Wedding of Saint George and captures perfectly a l l the dreamy "beauty, the mysticism and unreality of Rossetti' s medievalism, "One of the grandest things, like a golden dim dream, love credulous a l l gold; gold armour; a sense of enclosure i n 'palace chambers far apart"; but quaint chambers in quaint palaces, where angels creep in through sliding-panel doors and stand behind rows of flowers drumming on golden bells with wings crimson and green,"1" 1. Quoted by Hueffer, P.IvI. , op. c i t . , p. 73 I. BIBLIOGRAPHY Benson, A r t h u r Christopher Rossetti, Macmillan and Company, London, 1904 Caine, T. Hall, R e c o l l e c t i o n s of Pante G a b r i e l R o s s e t t i , E l l i o t Stock, London, 1882. Gary, Elisabeth Luther, The R o s s e t t i s : Dante G a b r i e l and C h r i s t i n a , G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1900. Crosland, T. W. H., The E n g l i s h Sonnet, Dodd, Mead and Company, New York, (1917). C u n l i f f e , John W., Leaders of the V i c t o r i a n R e v o l ution, P. Appleton-Century Company, New York, 1934. II Dante, Alighieri, Poems, P. E. Collier and Son, New York, 19OS, Davis, William Stearns, Life on a Medieval Barony, Harper and Brothers, Hew York, 19S3, Dodd, William George, Courtly Love in Chaucer and Gower, Ginn and Company, Boston and London, 1913. Elton, Oliver, A Survey of English Literature, Edward Arnold, London, 1920. Garnett, Richard, A History of Italian literature, D. Apple ton and Company, New York, 1928. I l l Gummere, F r a n c i s B., The Popular Ballad, Archibald Constable and Company London, 1907. Henderson, T. F., • The B a l l a d i n L i t e r a t u r e , University P r e s s , Cambridge, 1912. Hueffer, Ford Mad ox, R o s s e t t i ; A C r i t i c a l Essay on his A r t , Duckworth and Company, London, (1902). Mrs. Jameson, Legends of the Madonna, Longmans, Green and Company, London, 1899. Knight, Joseph, L i f e and Writings of Dante G a b r i e l R o s s e t t i , Walter Scott P u b l i s h i n g Company, London .OSOyU"), IT Legouis, Eraile, and Cazamion, Louis, A History of English, literature, J« M. Dent and Sons, l t d . , Toronto, (1930). Neilson, William Allan, The Origins and Sources of the Courts of love, G-inn and Company, Boston, 1899, Noble, J , Ashcroft, The Sonnet in England and Other Essays, Elk in Matthews and John lane, London, 1893. Pater, Walter, Appreciations, Maomillan and Cornpany, London, 1918. Ritson, Joseph, A Dissertation on Romance and Minstrelsy, E. G. GoIdsmid, Edinburgh, 1891. V Root, R. E., The Poetry of Chaucer, Houghton, M i f f l i n and Company, Boston and Haw York, 1906. Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, Poetical Works, P. P. Collier and Son, Hew York, 1902. Rossetti , Dante Gabriel, Collected Works, E l l i s and Elvey, London, 1890. Rossetti, William Michael, Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Letters and Memoir, E l l i s and Elvey, London, 1895. Rowbotham, John Frederick, The Troubadours and Courts of Love, S. Sonnensehein and Company, London, 1895. YI Thompson, A. Hamilton, "The Rossettis, William Morris, Swinburne .and Others," Cambridge History of English literature, University Press, Cambridge, 1917. Warre Cornish, Francis, Chivalry, S. Sonne rise he in and Company, london, 1908. Win war , Frances, Poor Splendid Wings, l i t t l e , Brown and Company, Boston, 1935. Wood, Esther, Dante Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelite Movement, Samson, low, Marston and Company, london, 1894. Periodicals Gosse, S i r Edmund, "Rossetti", The living Age, 334: 1077-1080, July, 1928. ¥11 Symons, Arthur, "A Note on Rossetti", North American Review, 204; 129-134, July 1916. Turner, Albert Morton, "Rossetti' s Reading and his Cr i t i c a l Opinions" , Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, 42; 465-491, June 1927. Waller, R. P., "The Blessed Damosel", The Modern Language ' Review, 26; 129-141, April 1931. Waugh, Evelyn, "Dante Gabriel Rossetti; A Centenary .Criticism", Fortnightly Review, 123 ; 595-604, May 1928. 

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