Parted Love!

Alternately titled: The Wombat

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1869 September 10
Date: 1869 September-1869 November (circa)
Rhyme: aaaa
Meter: anapaestic tetrameter
Genre: epigram


◦ Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné vol. 1, 211 (plates 440, 441).

Bryson and Troxell, 31-33.


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the Princeton/Taylor Manuscript text.

Scholarly Commentary


This work locates a nexus of texts and pictures that is unusual even for Rossetti. The complication centers in a strange and witty mirroring between two very different texts: on one hand the comic epigram “Parted Love!”; on the other the serious love sonnet with virtually the same title, “Parted Love”. The latter, written a month before the epigram, has as its primary reference point DGR's love for Jane Morris. The epigram recapitulates the sonnet's lament of separation from the beloved in a parodic vein. In the case of the epigram, DGR has in view his latest pet animal, a wombat, which arrived at his house in London while he was sojourning in Scotland at Penkill Castle.

The textual disjunction of sonnet and epigram is refigured in a new way in the drawing that shows Jane Morris leading a wombat on a leash. She and the wombat are both supplied with aureoles as signs of their sacred and beloved status. Isolated from its relation to the “Parted Love” sonnet, the significance of the drawing would be held in secret, as it would if it were only seen in relation to its natural equivalent, the comic epigram. But when one realizes that DGR has written the epigram to recode the erotic sonnet, the full significance of the entire textual-pictorial network begins to expose itself.

In a sense the drawing represents an unusual literalization of DGR's central subject, the relation of soul's beauty to body's beauty. Rarely does DGR, especially in the last fifteen years of his life, resort to a comical treatment of this subject.

William Bell Scott, who first published a text of the epigram, read it as “chaff directed to my Sonnets” (see his Autobiographical Notes II. 163 ), but his reading is mistaken.

Textual History: Composition

Three texts of the epigram survive: one in the British Library (untitled) that DGR sent in a letter to Mrs. Jane Morris on 11 September 1869 (reproduced in Bryson and Troxell, 31-33 ); another (titled) on a small sheet gathered in a notebook of various MSS in the library of Princeton University (the page is dated 10 September 1869); and a third (untitled) torn from a (now fragmentary) letter DGR wrote to his sister Maria on 10 September 1869. The manuscript at Princeton was probably the text from which William Bell Scott's 1892 text of the poem ultimately derived (see below)

Production History

The drawing of Mrs. Morris leading a wombat was executed sometime between 10 September and early November 1869.

Printing History

The text of the verses was first printed in William Bell Scott's Autobiographical Notes II. 163 . WMR then reprinted it in 1911, though it's clear he had access to a manuscript and did not use Scott's text as his copy.

In fact, both of these printed texts are non-authoritative. Printing from memory, Scott alters the final line. WMR's text, on the other hand, lacks the crucial title of the epigram that DGR fixed to the original manuscript of the work.

The drawing was first reproduced in facsimile in Apollo Magazine in March 1965 (page 181), and again in Surtees, plate 441.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1