Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Letter to Barbara Bodichon, 15 March 1870
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of Composition: 1870 March 15
Type of Manuscript: letter
Scribe: DGR

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



Dear Mme. Bodichon,
I have not yet written to thank you for a much more independent and promising pied-à-terre than I could have found in the tents of the stranger. Today things look sunny again—the snow is beginning to vanish—and I no longer feel so sure that my bones are tubes after all and that the devil is turning them to use as wind-instruments. I am getting a little to work steadily and may perhaps do something or may not, but at any rate cannot but benefit by the change in one way or another. Good quiet Stillman is the best of accommodating companions (surely his name must indicate the hereditary character of race), and walks with me, talks with me, and avoids me with the truest tact in the world. His grave dark face on the snowy roads would make any perceptive person turn round and feel an interest and curiosity about him. He has fallen to work a little on painting, but has some preoccupations of a kind which are apt to interfere with art. By the bye he tells me, from your information, that there is a British beauty at hand in the shape of a gamekeeper's daughter. Do you think one could ask her to sit for her portrait in chalks? I dare say I could knock off 50 guineas worth of her at a sitting or two, and would give her a sketch of herself besides. But ought one to ask?
I remember the Bayeux Tapestry here of old, and have an impression that, of the three sketches over the fireplace, the two side ones are yours and the middle one by A. M. Howitt (“as was”). The Oriental and Italian pottery is delightful, and there are some splendid indented tiles (I suppose ancient) lying in a heap on the shelves on the landing. I will keep you informed of all the more stirring order of adventurous accidents by flood and field (which should not be lacking to such a Don Quixote as Stillman and such a Sancho as myself), and meanwhile am
Ever yours sincerely,

D. G. Rossetti
P.S. I copy on the spare leaf a sonnet I have just written on Burne-Jones's Circe, which I know you saw at the Water Colour Gallery. I wanted to have some record of his work in my book. I have tried in the first lines to give some notion of the colour, and in the last some impression of the scope of the work—taking the transformed beasts as images of ruined passion —the torn seaweed of the sea of pleasure. You will remember that in the picture the window shows a view of the sea and the galleys which bear the new lovers and victims of the enchantress.
I heard from Allingham this morning. He has had a press appointment offered him and thinks of trying London again. Absit Omen!
  • Why sink those black drops in that golden wine,
  • Shed from thy hand, O dusk-haired gold-robed dame,
  • Where o'er the spread feast gleams the fragrant flame
  • And the dark-hearted golden sunflowers shine?
  • Doth Helios here with Hecatè combine
  • O Circe, thou their votaress! to proclaim
  • For these thy guests all rapture in thy name,
  • Till pitiless Night give Day the countersign?
  • Lords of their hour, they come. And by her knee
  • 10 Those cowering beasts, their equals heretofore,
  • Wait; who with them in new equality
  • To-night shall echo back the unchanging roar
  • Which sounds for ever from the tide-strewn shore
  • Where the dishevelled seaweed hates the sea.
Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: dgr.ltr.0564.rad.xml