Friday, June 20, 2014

Alas! The Bitter Banks in Willowwood

O Ye, All Ye that Walk in Willow-wood
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

'O ye, all ye that walk in Willow-wood,
That walk with hollow faces burning white;
What fathom-depth of soul-struck widowhood,
What long, what longer hours, one lifelong night,
Ere ye again, who so in vain have wooed
Your last hope lost, who so in vain invite
Your lips to that their unforgotten food,
Ere ye, ere ye again shall see the light!

Alas! the bitter banks in Willowwood,
With tear-spurge wan, with blood-wort burning red:
Alas! if ever such a pillow could
Steep deep the soul in sleep till she were dead,
Better all life forget her than this thing,
That Willowwood should hold her wandering!'

This is the third of the four Willowwood Sonnets which Dante Gabriel Rossetti wrote after the death of Elizabeth Siddal, his wife. Obviously this is the sonnet to which Christina Rossetti 'hooks' her own response-sonnet, "An Echo from Willowwood". Christina shows herself easily to be the superior poet, although, of course, her brother's is deeply heartfelt.

Siddal, of course, has a very recognizable face, because she was one of the major models for Pre-Raphaelite paintings (which is how Rossetti met her). The following was painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti as a wedding portrait, followed by Siddal's own self-portrait from when she began studying painting:




  1. Itinérante7:21 AM

    Oh wow this is a wonderful post!
    I thought this poem is a bit similar in style to some of your poetry Brandon (I think you should publish some but that is my own unsolicited opinion).
    The first painting is just so beautiful!

  2. branemrys9:08 AM

    The poetry of the various Romantics is my major influence, so that probably accounts for the similarity.

    Dante Gabriel Rossetti has a lot of paintings with Elizabeth Siddel as his model. One of my favorites is Beata Beatrix. It is a painting of her from memory, since she had already been dead for some time.

  3. Itinérante2:43 AM

    This is the first time I see it and it is truly so so beautiful! It looks so peaceful!!
    I had a fear that I would forget how people look like after they die... I guess I should learn painting (or just take more pictures)...


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