Lady, we would behold thee moving bright
As Beatrice or Matilda mid the trees,
Alas! thy moan was as a moan for ease
And passage through cool shadows to the night:
Fleeing from love, hadst thou not poet’s right
To slip into the universe? The seas
Are fathomless to rivers drowned in these,
And sorrow is secure in leafy light.
Ah, had this secret touched thee, in a tomb
Thou hadst not buried thy enchanting self,
As happy Syrinx murmuring with the wind,
Or Daphne thrilled through all her mystic bloom,
From safe recess as genius or as elf,
Thou hadst breathed joy in earth and in thy kind.
What does this mean? Why do the speakers want to see Rossetti emulate Dante’s Beatrice and Matilda? What was Rossetti’s “moan”? How does a poet “slip into the universe”? What do seas, rivers and “leafy light” symbolize? In what “tomb” do the speakers regret that Rossetti buried herself? In what way are the nymphs Syrinx and Daphne good role models? What are “safe recess” and “thy kind”? What retrospective advice are the speakers giving Rossetti?