This excerpt from Dante Gabriel Rossetti's poem, The Bride's Prelude", shows a coded Victorian language that speaks about the queering of race and refer's to the bride's room as a "chamber", suggesting some sort of forced or arranged marriage. There is a lot of reference to gold and jewels on the bride's head in this first section of Rossetti's poem, which alludes to Egyptian culture. None of Rossetti's poems really addresses or blatantly discusses the mullatto woman or Black woman (or any woman of color, for that matter), but in these codes that reference different geographical parts of the world and how it is used in juxtoposition with palesness and whitness form this queering of race when compared to Euro-centric, white features that are ideal in Victorian England.
“Sister,” said busy Amelotte
To listless Aloÿse;
“Along your wedding-road the wheat
Bends as to hear your horse's feet,
And the noonday stands still for heat.”
Amelotte laughed into the air
With eyes that sought the sun:
But where the walls in long brocade
Were screened, as one who is afraid
Sat Aloÿse within the shade.
And even in shade was gleam enough
To shut out full repose
From the bride's 'tiring-chamber, which
Was like the inner altar-niche
Whose dimness worship has made rich.
Within the window's heaped recess
The light was counterchanged
In blent reflexes manifold
From perfume-caskets of wrought gold
And gems the bride's hair could not hold,
All thrust together: and with these
A slim-curved lute, which now,
At Amelotte's sudden passing there,
Was swept in somewise unaware,
And shook to music the close air.
Against the haloed lattice-panes
The bridesmaid sunned her breast;
Then to the glass turned tall and free,
And braced and shifted daintily
Her loin-belt through her côte-hardie.
The belt was silver, and the clasp
Of lozenged arm-bearings;
A world of mirrored tints minute
The rippling sunshine wrought into 't,
That flushed her hand and warmed her foot.
At least an hour had Aloÿse—
Her jewels in her hair—
Her white gown, as became a bride,
Quartered in silver at each side—
Sat thus aloof, as if to hide.
Over her bosom, that lay still,
The vest was rich in grain,
With close pearls wholly overset:
Around her throat the fastenings met
Of chevesayle and mantelet.
Her arms were laid along her lap
With the hands open: life
Itself did seem at fault in her:
Beneath the drooping brows, the stir
Of thought made noonday heavier.
Long sat she silent; and then raised
Her head, with such a gasp
As while she summoned breath to speak
Fanned high that furnace in the cheek
But sucked the heart-pulse cold and weak.
(Oh gather round her now, all ye
Past seasons of her fear,—
Sick springs, and summers deadly cold!
To flight your hovering wings unfold,
For now your secret shall be told.
Ye many sunlights, barbed with darts
Of dread detecting flame,—
Gaunt moonlights that like sentinels
Went past with iron clank of bells,—
Draw round and render up your spells!)
Page numbers in original volume
Rossetti, Dante G. The Bride's Prelude. Dante Gabriel Rossetti's personal notebooks. Corrected by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Corrected Fair Copy. 1870-1880. British Library, Ashley collection. http://www.rossettiarchive.org/docs/2-1848.blms.radheader.html
Rossetti, Dante G."The Bride's Prelude". Poems. A New Edition. 1st Ed. Ellis & White, 1881. pp. ii,viii, 188-237. Alderman Library, U. of Virginia. http://www.rossettiarchive.org/docs/1-1881.1stedn.radheader.html
Rossetti, Dante G. The Bride. 1865-1866; 1873. Tate Gallery, London. http://www.rossettiarchive.org/docs/s182.rap.html