Alexandre Cabanel: Nymphe et Satyre (1860)

Theocritus: For a Statue of Æsculapius

FAR as Miletus travelled Pæan’s son;
There to be guest of Nicias, guest of one
Who heals all sickness; and who still reveres
Him, for his sake this cedarn image rears.
The sculptor’s hand right well did Nicias fill;
And here the sculptor lavished all his skill.

Translation by C. S. Calverley, 1869.

As a musician I tell you that if you were to suppress adultery, fanaticism, crime, evil, the supernatural, there would no longer be the means for writing one note.

Georges Bizet in a letter to Edmond Galabert, October 1866

Christina Rossetti: Song

When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.


From Goblin Market and Other Poems, 1862.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti drew this chalk portrait of his sister Christina in September 1866, when she was thirty-five years old. In that year, she published her second volume of poetry, Prince’s Progress and Other Poems. She received a proposal of marriage from a reclusive Dante scholar and former pupil of her father, Charles Bagot Cayley. To judge from a series of love poems written in Italian (Il Rosseggiar dell’ Oriente), which William found in her writing desk after her death, Rossetti loved Cayley very deeply. But she refused him after she “enquired into his creed and found he was not a Christian.” She never married.

Christina Rossetti: At Home

WHEN I was dead, my spirit turned
To seek the much-frequented house:
I passed the door, and saw my friends
Feasting beneath green orange boughs;
From hand to hand they pushed the wine,
They sucked the pulp of plum and peach;
They sang, they jested, and they laughed,
For each was loved of each.

I listened to their honest chat:
Said one: “To-morrow we shall be
Plod plod along the featureless sands
And coasting miles and miles of sea.”
Said one: “Before the turn of tide
We will achieve the eyrie-seat.”
Said one: “To-morrow shall be like
To-day, but much more sweet.”

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Boccaccio: Of his last sight of Fiammetta

ROUND her red garland and her golden hair
I saw a fire about Fiammetta’s head;
Thence to a little cloud I watch’d it fade,
Than silver or than gold more brightly fair;

And like a pearl that a gold ring doth bear,
Even so an angel sat therein, who sped
Alone and glorious throughout heaven, array’d
In sapphires and in gold that lit the air.

Then I rejoiced as hoping happy things,
Who rather should have then discern’d how God
Had haste to make my lady all his own,

Even as it came to pass. And with these stings
Of sorrow, and with life’s most weary load
I dwell, who fain would be where she is gone.


Translation by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, first published 1861.

Christina Rossetti: A Daughter of Eve

A fool I was to sleep at noon,
And wake when night is chilly
Beneath the comfortless cold moon;
A fool to pluck my rose too soon,
A fool to snap my lily.

My garden-plot I have not kept;
Faded and all-forsaken,
I weep as I have never wept:
Oh it was summer when I slept,
It’s winter now I waken.

Talk what you please of future spring
And sun-warm’d sweet to-morrow:—
Stripp’d bare of hope and everything,
No more to laugh, no more to sing,
I sit alone with sorrow.


Published in The Prince’s Progress and Other Poems, 1866.

Stéphane Mallarmé: Sea Wind

THE flesh is sad, alas! and all the books are read.
Flight, only flight! I feel that birds are wild to tread
The floor of unknown foam, and to attain the skies!
Nought, neither ancient gardens mirrored in the eyes,
Shall hold this heart that bathes in waters its delight,
O nights! nor yet my waking lamp, whose lonely light
Shadows the vacant paper, whiteness profits best,
Nor the young wife who rocks her baby on her breast.
I will depart! O steamer, swaying rope and spar,
Lift anchor for exotic lands that lie afar!
A weariness, outworn by cruel hopes, still clings
To the last farewell handkerchief’s last beckonings!
And are not these, the masts inviting storms, not these
That an awakening wind bends over wrecking seas,
Lost, not a sail, a sail, a flowering isle, ere long?
But, O my heart, hear thou, hear thou, the sailors’ song!


First published May 12, 1866, in Le Parnasse contemporain. Translation by Arthur Symons.

The Wiener Philharmoniker under Riccardo Muti play the Blue Danube Waltz, video with some really beautiful ballet scenes.