by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 – 1882)
When do I see thee most, beloved one?
When in the light the spirits of mine eyes
Before thy face, their altar, solemnize
The worship of that Love through thee made known?
Or when in the dusk hours (we two alone,)
Close-kissed and eloquent of still replies
twilight-hidden glimmering visage lies,
And my soul only sees thy soul its own?
O love, my love! if I no more should see
Thyself, nor on the earth the shadow of thee,
Nor image of thine eyes in any spring,–
How then should sound upon Life’s darkening slope
The ground-whirl of the perished leaves of Hope,
The wind of Death’s imperishable wing?
Gabriel Dante Rossetti may have been blessed with artistic ability from birth by his parents honoring Dante as his namesake. Rossetti was an English poet, illustrator, painter and translator. He founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais and became the main inspiration for a second generation of artists like William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones.
I like his paintings, ornate with color and complex shading. They are highly stylized, erotic and beautiful, with imagery filled with symbols and connections to myth, religion and art. His poetry leans like his painting to the romantic, but there are deeper shades of meaning than just sweet nothings he is whispering in your ear. At a time when hope is something that many of us are finding in short supply, his poem The One Hope is a good reminder that hope is something we can obtain merely for the focus on the word alone. As silly as it may sound, I can find hope in Hope.
The One Hope
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
When all desire at last and all regret
Go hand in hand to death, and all is vain,
What shall assuage the unforgotten pain
And teach the unforgetful to forget?
Shall Peace be still a sunk stream long unmet,—
Or may the soul at once in a green plain
Stoop through the spray of some sweet life-fountain
And cull the dew-drenched flowering amulet?
Ah! when the wan soul in that golden air
Between the scriptured petals softly blown
Peers breathless for the gift of grace unknown,
Ah! let none other written spell soe’er
But only the one Hope’s one name be there,—
Not less nor more, but even that word alone.