The Blue Silk Dress

Time cannot dim the luxuriance of his paint,

nor similarly of Rosetti’s passion.

With every grandiose sweep of his paintbrush,

desire and emotion he’d fashion.


As Rosetti’s muse, Jane would sit and model,

The pair’s intensity all could plainly see,

but his engagement to Elizabeth Siddall

left Jane unhappy, alone and regretfully free.


Marrying Gabriel’s friend, William Morris,

seemed the sensible solution Jane had sought,

but when Lizzie died of an overdose,

Jane’s marriage immediately counted for nought.


Her passion with Rosetti rekindled.

Eleven years endured their love feast.

To save face and allow them more freedom,

Kelmscott Manor in Oxfordshire was leased.


It seems Morrris tolerated this dalliance.

Even encouraged it, some would suggest.

He spent time overseas, particularly in Iceland,

inspiration for designs his all-consuming quest.


How often Rosetti painted his muse,

we can only but hazard a guess .

Perhaps the most famous of those artworks

is unpretentiously named The Blue Silk Dress.


Jane gazes in wistful introspection,

who knows her thoughts at that time?

Had she tired of Rosetti and his drugtaking,

his low mental health and physical decline?


Eventually she broke off the relationship,

Rosetti left solely with laudanum and art.

Wilfred Blunt was a poet and activist

who then captured Jane’s mind and her heart.


This affair lasted far longer than Rosetti’s.

It seems Blunt was the love of Jane’s life.

Kelmscott was home for her and her daughters.

Not for her the role of dutiful wife.


Jane had joined the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood,

sewing, stitching, creating with zeal.

Her designs for wallpapers and fabrics,

Have a timeless and long-lasting appeal.


Jane outlived both Rosetti and Morris,

mixing in London with the most privileged set.

She’s buried in Kelmscott churchyard alongside her husband,

Were any of her choices a source of regret?


Today we wander Kelmscott Manor,

to pay homage to Morris and his Arts and Crafts space,

but overshadowing his exquisite designs and artwork,

Rosetti’s ‘The Blue Silk Dress’ takes pride of place.


  1. Phil

    Interesting biography of jane’s life and loves in poem form. And it rhymes, too, so it counts as a poem!

  2. Jacki

    I like this poem Lynne and the way in which the story is told.
    Like Phil, I do like poetry to rhyme.

    • Lynne

      Thanks Jacki. Thanks for the feedback. This is longer than many of my poems….once I started, I just couldn’t stop!


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