Aspecta Medusa (for a Drawing)

Original Text: 
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Poems (Boston: Roberts Bros., 1870). PR 5240 E70 ROBA. Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Poems (London: Ellis and White, 1881). end R677 A155 1881 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
2Hanker'd each day to see the Gorgon's head:
4And mirror'd in the wave was safely seen
6                                        Let not thine eyes know
7Any forbidden thing itself, although
8It once should save as well as kill: but be
9Its shadow upon life enough for thee.


1] The lines were composed in 1865 as companion piece to a design for a painting. The painting itself was never completed because the patron who had commissioned it found the Medusa's severed head disconcerting. On his return from slaying the Gorgon, Medusa, Perseus came upon Andromeda about to be sacrificed to a sea monster in atonement for her mother Cassiopeia's pride. Perseus rescued and married her. Back to Line
3] The Medusa's head, if gazed on directly, turned the beholder to stone. Back to Line
5] the death she lived by. According to one version of the legend, Perseus destroyed the sea monster by holding up before its eyes the head of Medusa. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Margaret Frances (Sister St. Francis) Nims
RPO Edition: 
3RP 3.278.