The Mirror

Alternately titled: A Symbol

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1850 September
Rhyme: abccba
Meter: iambic tetrameter
Genre: lyric


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the DGR's fair copy manuscript.

Scholarly Commentary


The only manuscript witness for this poem is the one DGR copied into his letter to WMR of 3 September 1850. DGR introduces it with a cryptic question — “Can you explain the following?” — that pretty well indexes the strange little set of verses, which DGR left untitled. The pair of titles with the contemporary printed texts represent elliptical interpretations of the poem.

Textual History: Composition

The poem was presumably written at the time DGR sent it to his brother.

Printing History

The poem was first printed after DGR's death in The Musical Review under the title “A Symbol” (27 January 1883). WMR then printed it again from the manuscript letter in his edition of 1886 under the title “The Mirror”, and collected it thereafter through his 1911 edition of DGR's works. WMR's text varies slightly from the text in the manuscript letter but we have no indication that the changes are DGR's.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 5-1850.raw.xml