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Lost on Both Sides

As when two men have loved a woman well,
Each hating each, through Love's and Death's deceit;
Since not for either this stark marriage-sheet
And the long pauses of this wedding-bell;
Yet o'er her grave the night and day dispel
At last their feud forlorn, with cold and heat;
Nor other than dear friends to death may fleet
The two lives left that most of her can tell:--

So separate hopes, which in a soul had wooed
The one same Peace, strove with each other long,
And Peace before their faces perished since:
So through that soul, in restless brotherhood,
They roam together now, and wind among
Its bye-streets, knocking at the dusty inns.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti was one of the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood along with which rejected academic restrictions and emulated the idealized depiction of nature found in early Italian painting. Born in London to Gabriel Rossetti, a Dante scholar and Italian political exile. His mother, Frances Polidari Rossetti, was an Anglo-Italian whose grandfather had been the poet Byron's doctor. He excelled at both writing and art. The great love of his life was Elizabeth Siddal. He spent ten years dedicating his painting, drawings, sketches and poetry about her. Distraught over her death two years after their marriage he buried his poetry manuscripts when she was laid to rest. In 1869, Rossetti's friend William Bell Scott persuaded him to recover the poetry that had been buried in his wife's grave and the following year he published Poems which sparked the famous critique of the Pre-Raphaelites by Robert Buchanan called The Fleshly School of Poetry.

Lost on Both Sides highlights his quest for identity which occupied him throughout his varied career. An "as-so" sonnet where the first 8 lines are the "As" clause and the last 6 are the "So" clause. It was written between 1869 and 1878 it appeared in The House of Life. Deft and lucid, scholars speculate that the multi layered sestet may involve painting and literature, and that the soul is Rossetti's. A spectacle of meanings can be brought forth. He was an Italian living in London, an artistic prodigy disenchanted with the genre of his day, neoclassicism. Immersed in his adoration for a woman for a decade only to lose her. Starts a romantic relationship with Fanny Cornforth, one of his models and apparently, romantically involved with Jane Burden Morris, William Morris' wife. By the early 1870's he was indulging in the drug chloral because of chronic insomnia. Rossetti begins a descent into mental illness characterized by eccentric, and at times manic and delusional behavior. Despite all of this he continued to write and paint. A soul who was in more ways than one 'lost on both sides'

Selected References

Dante Gabriel Rossetti:

Poets' Corner

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