Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Astarte Syriaca

[Click on image to enlarge] Astarte was a Syrian goddess of fertility and love. The model for the painting is Jane Morris, William Morris's wife, with whom Rossetti was deeply in love. The poem (1877) explicates details of the painting. Taken together, they show how Rossetti mythologized in his art relationships in his personal life.



Mystery: lo! betwixt the sun and moon
      Astarte of the Syrians: Venus Queen
      Ere Aphrodite was. In silver sheen
Her twofold girdle clasps the infinite boon
Of bliss whereof the heaven and earth commune:
      And from her neck's inclining flower-stem lean
      Love-freighted lips and absolute eyes that wean
The pulse of hearts to the spheres' dominant tune.

Torch-bearing, her sweet ministers compel
      All thrones of light beyond the sky and sea
      The witnesses of Beauty's face to be:
That face, of Love's all-penetrative spell
Amulet, talisman, and oracle, —
      Betwixt the sun and moon a mystery.

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