The House of Life: 97. A Superscription

By Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828–1882
Look in my face; my name is Might-have-been;
         I am also call'd No-more, Too-late, Farewell;
         Unto thine ear I hold the dead-sea shell
Cast up thy Life's foam-fretted feet between;
Unto thine eyes the glass where that is seen
         Which had Life's form and Love's, but by my spell
         Is now a shaken shadow intolerable,
Of ultimate things unutter'd the frail screen.

Mark me, how still I am! But should there dart
         One moment through thy soul the soft surprise
         Of that wing'd Peace which lulls the breath of sighs,—
Then shalt thou see me smile, and turn apart
Thy visage to mine ambush at thy heart
         Sleepless with cold commemorative eyes.

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Poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828–1882

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Philosophy, Arts & Sciences, Disappointment & Failure, Living, Religion, Death

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Biography

Dante Gabriel Rossetti was born 12 May 1828 in London, the second child and eldest son of Italian expatriates. His father, Gabriele Rossetti, was a Dante scholar, who had been exiled from Naples for writing poetry in support of the Neapolitan Constitution of 1819. Rossetti’s mother had trained as a governess and supervised her children's early education. Few Victorian families were as gifted as the Rossettis: the oldest child, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Philosophy, Arts & Sciences, Disappointment & Failure, Living, Religion, Death

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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