Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Astarte
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.
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
Love-freighted lips and absolute eyes that
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.