For critics like John Ruskin and Walter Pater, Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1892) was one of the great creative figures of the day, a painter and a poet of major stature. Yeats and the young Pound regarded him as an exemplary figure of solitary dedication to art and beauty.
Rossetti's most original work may have been in preparing the way for the modernists, who in turn dethroned him. He called the sonnet 'a moment's monument', and his best short lyrics are instants of oppressed emotion cut free of time. In this, as in the suggestiveness of his imagery, he anticipates the French Symbolists. He can also be regarded as the founder of modern verse translation, not only for the freshness of his versions but also for his choice of poets---Villon, Cavalcanti and the young Dante.
In this selection, Clive Wilmer has made a personal choice, emphasizing the 'pure poetry' of the lyrics at the expense of the more conventionally Victorian monologues and narratives. He has also included a generous selection from the translations, and provided a biographical and critical introduction.