He was impetuous and vehe- ment, and necessarily therefore impatient; easily angered, easily appeased, although the embittered feelings of his later years obscured this amiable quality to some extent; constant and helpful as a friend where page: xxi. Of his manner I can perhaps convey but a vague impression. I have said that it was natural; it was likewise eminently easy, and even of the free-and-easy kind.
There was a certain British bluffness, streaking the finely poised Italian suppleness and facility. As he was thoroughly unconventional, caring not at all to page: xxii. The appearance of my brother was to my eye rather Italian than English, though I have more than once heard it said that there was nothing observable to bespeak foreign blood. He was of rather low middle stature, say five feet seven and a half, like our father; and, as the years advanced, he resembled our father not a little in a characteristic way, yet with highly obvious divergences.
Meagre in youth, he was at times decidedly fat in mature age.
The complexion, clear and warm, was also dark, but not dusky or sombre. The hair was dark and somewhat silky; the brow grandly spacious and solid; the full-sized eyes blueish-grey; the nose shapely, decided, and rather projecting, with an aquiline tendency and large nostrils, and perhaps no detail in the face was more noticeable at a first glance than the very strong indentation at the spring of the nose below the forehead; the mouth moderately well- shaped, but with a rather thick and unmoulded under- page: xxiii. My brother was very little of a traveller; he disliked the interruption of his ordinary habits of life, and the flurry or discomfort, involved in locomotion.
In boy- hood he knew Boulogne: he was in Paris three or four times, and twice visited some principal cities of Belgium. This was the whole extent of his foreign travelling. From page: xxiv. From an early period of life he had a large circle of friends, and could always have commanded any amount of intercourse with any number of ardent or kindly well-wishers, had he but felt elasticity and cheerfulness of mind enough for the purpose.
I should do injustice to my own feelings if I were not to mention here some of his leading friends. First and foremost I name Mr. Madox Brown, his chief intimate throughout life, on the unexhausted resources of whose affection and con- verse he drew incessantly for long years; they were at last separated by the removal of Mr. Brown to Man- chester, for the purpose of painting the Town Hall frescoes.
William Bell Scott was, like Mr. Brown, a close friend from a very early period until the last; Scott being both poet and painter, there was a strict bond of affinity between him and Rossetti. Ruskin was extremely intimate with my brother from till about , and was of material help to his professional career. As he rose towards celebrity, Rossetti knew Burne Jones, and through him Morris and Swinburne, all staunch and fervently sympathetic friends.
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Shields was a rather later acquaintance, who soon became an intimate, equally respected and cherished. Then Mr. Hueffer the musical critic now page: xxv. Before proceeding to some brief account of the sequence, etc. The first poet with whom he became partially familiar was Shakespeare.
Then fol- lowed the usual boyish fancies for Walter Scott and Byron. The Bible was deeply impressive to him, perhaps above all Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Apocalypse. Byron gave place to Shelley when my brother was about sixteen years of age; and Mrs. Browning and the old English or Scottish ballads rapidly ensued. It may have page: xxvi. The reader may perhaps be surprised to find some names unmentioned in this list: I have stated the facts as I remember and know them. It should not be supposed that he read them not at all, or cared not for any of them; but, if we except Chaucer in a rather loose way and at a late period of life Marlowe in some of his non-dramatic poems, they were compara- tively neglected.
Thomas Hood he valued highly; also very highly Burns in mature years, but he was not a constant reader of the Scottish lyrist. Of Italian poets he earnestly loved none save Dante: Cavalcanti in his degree, and also Poliziano and Michelangelo — not page: xxviii. I now pass to a specification of my brother's own writings.
Of his merely childish or boyish performances I need have said nothing, were it not that they have been mentioned in other books regarding Rossetti. It is of course simple nonsense. If what they do is meaningless, what they say when they deviate from prose is probably unmetrical; but it is so long since I read The Slave that I speak about this with uncertainty.
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Towards his thirteenth year he began a romantic prose-tale named Roderick and Rosalba. I page: xxix. Other original verse, not in any large quantity, succeeded, along with the version of Der Arme Heinrich , and the beginning of his translations from the early Italians. These must, I think, have been in full career in the first half of , if not in They show a keen sensitiveness to whatsoever is poetic in the originals, and a sinuous strength and ease in providing English equivalents, with the command of a rich and romantic vocabulary.
The Collected Works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, vol. 1 ()
In his nineteenth year, or before 12th May , he wrote The Blessed Damozel. Note: Page is misnumbered as xx. Dante Rossetti's published works were as follows: three volumes, chiefly of poetry. I shall transcribe the title-pages verbatim. Together with Dante's Vita Nuova. Translated by D. Part I.
Poets chiefly before Dante. Part II. Dante and his Circle. London: Smith, Elder and Co.
The rights of translation and reproduction, as regards all editorial parts of this work, are reserved. Revised and rearranged edition. Poets of Dante's Circle. London: F. Ellis, 33 King Street, Covent Garden. A new edition. The reader will understand that 1 b is essentially the same book as 1 a , but altered in arrangement, chiefly by inverting the order in which the poems of Dante and of the Dantesque epoch, and those of an earlier period, are printed.
In the present collection, I reprint 1 b , taking no further count of 1 a. The volume 2 b is to a great extent the same as 2 a , yet by no means identical with it. It thus became impossible for me to reproduce 2 a : but the question had to be considered whether I should reprint 2 b and 3 exactly as they stood in , adding after them a section of poems not hitherto printed in any one of my brother's volumes; or whether I should recast, in point of arrangement, the entire contents of 2 b and 3, inserting here and there, in their most appro- priate sequence, the poems hitherto unprinted.
I have chosen the latter alternative, as being in my own opinion the only arrangement which is thoroughly befitting for an edition of Collected Works. I am aware that some readers would have preferred to see the old order— i. Indeed, one of my brother's friends, most worthy, whether as friend or as critic, to be consulted on such a subject, decidedly advocated that plan. On the other hand, I found my own view confirmed by my sister Christina, who, both as a member of the family and as a poetess, deserved an attentive hearing.
The reader who inspects my table of contents will be readily able to follow the method of arrangement which is here adopted. I have divided the materials into Principal Poems, Miscellaneous Poems, Translations, and some minor headings; and have in each section arranged the poems—and the same has been done with the prose-writings—in some approximate order of date. This order of date is cer- tainly not very far from correct; but I could not make it absolute, having frequently no distinct information to go by.
The few translations which were printed in 2 b as page: xxxiii. There are two poems by my brother, unpublished as yet, which I am unable to include among his Collected Works. One of these is a grotesque ballad about a Dutchman, begun at a very early date, and finished in his last illness. To appreciate this and the other sonnets, it is necessary to know the beautiful story of the two poets.
Browning was six years older than her husband and a life-long invalid, expecting, as she says in this sonnet, Death rather than Love. Their marriage was supremely happy, and the great poet, when in England, used to visit the church in which they were married to express his thankfulness. He tells the love-story in the next quotation.
Wordsworth had written in The last verse, describing Mrs. Browning, makes it clear that the poet is speaking of his own love-story, although the scene is imaginary. You must not say that this cannot be, or that that is contrary to nature. You do not know what Nature is, or what she can do; and nobody knows.
Wise men are afraid to say that there is anything contrary to nature, except what is contrary to mathematical truth, as that two and two cannot make five. There are dozens and hundreds of things in the world which we should  certainly have said were contrary to nature, if we did not see them going on under our eyes all day long.
Suppose that no human being had ever seen or heard of an elephant. Charles Kingsley Water-Babies. This passage interested us greatly in the old days, and also another passage drawing a not very satisfactory analogy between the transformation of insects and our probable transformation at death.