Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: The Century, Volume 24 (1882)
Author: Century (publisher)
Date of publication: 1882 May - 1882 October
Publisher: The Century Co.
Printer: Francis Hart & Co.
Volume: 24 (old series)

The full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.

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page: 721
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Meanwhile, although the more vigorous

members of the brotherhood had shown no

special sympathy for Rossetti's religious mys-

ticism, a feebler artist, himself one of the orig-

inal seven, had taken it up with embarrassing

effusion. This was the late James Collinson,

whose principal picture, “St. Elizabeth of

Hungary” finished in 1851, produced a sort
Image of page 722 page: 722
of crisis in Rossetti's career. This painting

out-mystified the mystic himself; it was simply

maudlin and hysterical, though drawn with

some feeling for grace, and in a very earnest

spirit. Rossetti, with his strong good sense,

recognized that it would be impossible ever to

reach the public with art of this unmanly

character, and from this time forth he began

to abandon the practice of directly sacred art.

Meanwhile, as is proved by two sonnets which

Mr. W. B. Scott kindly permits me to print,

one of them for the first time, the poet con-

tinued to dwell on that field of thought from

which, as a painter, he had now shut himself

out. The earlier of these sonnets, which were

written in 1852, and sent to Mr. Scott at

Newcastle, was published for the first time,

with various alterations, in 1881:
“The Church Porches.”
  • “Sister, first shake we off the dust we have
  • Upon our feet, lest it defile the stones
  • Inscriptured, covering their sacred bones
  • Who lie i' the aisles which keep the names they gave,
  • Their trust abiding round them in the grave;—
  • Whom painters paint with silent orisons,
  • And to whom sculptors pray in stone and bronze;
  • Their voices echo still like a spent wave.
  • Without here, the church-bells are but a tune,
  • 10And on the gothic church-door this hot noon
  • Lays all its heavy sunshine here without:
  • But having entered in, we shall find there
  • Silence, and lighted tapers, and deep prayer,
  • And faces of crowned angels all about.
  • “Sister, arise: we have no more to sing,
  • Or say. The priest abideth as is meet
  • To minister. Rise up out of thy seat,
  • Though peradventure 'tis an irksome thing
  • To cross again the threshold of a king,
  • Where his doors stand against the evil street,
  • And let each step increase upon our feet
  • The dust we shook from them at entering.
  • Must we of very sooth go hence; the air,
  • 10Whose heat outside makes mist that can be seen,
  • Is very clear and cool where we have been.
  • The priest abideth ministering. Lo!
  • As he for service, why not we for prayer?
  • It is so bidden. Sister, let us go.”
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Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: ap2.c4.24.rad.xml