Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné vol. 1, 211 (plates 440, 441).◦
Bryson and Troxell, 31-33.
Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the Princeton/Taylor
This work locates a nexus of texts and pictures that is unusual even for
Rossetti. The complication centers in a strange and witty mirroring between two very
different texts: on one hand the comic epigram “Parted Love!”; on
the other the serious love sonnet with virtually the same
Love”. The latter, written a month before the epigram, has as its primary
reference point DGR's love for Jane Morris. The epigram recapitulates the sonnet's lament
of separation from the beloved in a parodic vein. In the case of the epigram, DGR has in
view his latest pet animal, a wombat, which arrived at his house in London while he was
sojourning in Scotland at Penkill Castle.
The textual disjunction of sonnet and epigram is refigured in a new way in the drawing
that shows Jane Morris leading a wombat on a leash. She and the wombat are both supplied
with aureoles as signs of their sacred and beloved status. Isolated from its relation to the “Parted
Love” sonnet, the significance of
the drawing would be held in secret, as it would if it were only seen in relation to its
natural equivalent, the comic epigram. But when one realizes that DGR has written the epigram to
recode the erotic sonnet, the full significance of the entire textual-pictorial network begins
to expose itself.
In a sense the drawing represents an unusual literalization of DGR's central subject, the
relation of soul's beauty to body's beauty. Rarely does DGR, especially in the last fifteen years
of his life, resort to a comical treatment of this subject.
William Bell Scott, who first published a text of the epigram, read it as “chaff directed to my Sonnets” (see his
), but his reading is mistaken.
Three texts of the epigram survive: one in the British Library
(untitled) that DGR sent in a letter to Mrs. Jane Morris
on 11 September 1869 (reproduced in
Bryson and Troxell,
); another (titled) on a small sheet gathered in a
various MSS in the library of Princeton University (the page is dated 10 September 1869); and a third (untitled) torn from a (now fragmentary) letter DGR wrote to his sister Maria on
10 September 1869. The manuscript at Princeton was probably the text from which William Bell Scott's 1892 text of the poem ultimately derived (see below)
The drawing of Mrs. Morris leading a wombat was
executed sometime between 10 September and early November 1869.
The text of the verses was first printed in William Bell Scott's
. WMR then reprinted it in
though it's clear he had access to a manuscript and did not use Scott's text as his copy.
In fact, both of these printed texts are non-authoritative. Printing from memory, Scott alters the final line. WMR's text, on the other hand, lacks the crucial title of the epigram that DGR fixed
to the original manuscript of the work.
The drawing was first reproduced in
facsimile in Apollo Magazine
in March 1965 (page 181), and again in Surtees, plate 441.