William Bell Scott
Biography of William Bell Scott
William Bell Scott (12 September 1811 – 22 November 1890), British poet and artist, son of Robert Scott (1777-1841), the engraver, and brother of David Scott, the painter, was born in Edinburgh.
While a young man he studied art and assisted his father, and he published verses in the Scottish magazines. In 1837 he went to London, where he became sufficiently well known as an artist to be appointed in 1844 master of the government school of design at Newcastle-on-Tyne. He held the post for twenty years, and did good work in organizing art-teaching and examining under the Science and Art Department.
He did much fine decorative work, too, on his own account, notably at Wallington Hall, in the shape of eight large pictures illustrating Border history, with life-size figures, supplemented by eighteen pictures illustrating the ballad of Chevy Chase in the spandrels of the arches of the hall. For Penkill Castle, Ayrshire, he executed a similar series, illustrating James I's The Kingis Quair.
In Newcastle, Scott was visited by all the Rossetti family, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti painted Maria Leathart's portrait at Scott's house 14 St Thoms' Crescent (plaque erected 2005). Algernon Charles Swinburne, who wrote two poems to Scott, spent much time with him in Newcastle after being sent down from Oxford.
After 1870 Scott was much in London, where he bought a house in Chelsea, and he was an intimate friend of Rossetti and in high repute as an artist and an author. He was, however, at daggers drawn with John Ruskin.
His poetry, which he published at intervals (notably Poems, 1875, illustrated by etchings by himself and Alma-Tadema), recalled Blake and Shelley, and was considerably influenced by Rossetti; he also wrote several volumes of artistic and literary criticism, and edited Keats, L.E.L., Byron, Coleridge, Shelley, Shakespeare and Scott.
He resigned his appointment under the Science and Art Department in 1885, and from then till his death he was mainly occupied in writing his reminiscences, which were published posthumously in 1892, with a memoir by Professor Minto. It is for his connection with Rossetti's circle that Bell Scott will be chiefly remembered
William Bell Scott Poems
Art For Art’s Sake
‘Art for art's sake,’—very well, Your picture you don't care to sell? Yes, yes, I do, and thus I try
Love And Death
‘Open the door! Thou canst not understand My mission, thou spoilt child of many a god, Thou who dost claim the heart for thy abode;
Dante And Beatrice
Ah, did she pass so coldly by The tenderest love in all the earth, Making his lifetime one long sigh, That never knew a morn of mirth?
In the first watch of the night, One candle all my light, I saw a Spirit near the door Standing raised above the floor,
The widow heard Elijah's tread, She heard his staff against the door, She wrapped the sackcloth round her head,
Another day hath dawned Since, hastily and tired, I threw myself Into the dark lap of advancing sleep.
Raphael’s Madonna Di San Sisto
Once and once only, and no more, Art hath reached the topmost bough; The goodliest fruit of all his store Our well-filled garner holds till now.
That foxglove by the garden gate, The very day the war began, Opened its first, its lowest flower.
A Lowland Witch Ballad
The old witch-wife beside her door Sat spinning with a watchful ear, A horse's hoof upon the road Is what she waits for, longs to hear,
The Which's Ballad
O, I hae come from far away, From a warm land far away, A southern land across the sea, With sailor-lads about the mast,
A celtic Saint this tale first told, Ere Dante's birth the saint was cold, But he in faith with mortal eyes Had been uplifted through the skies
Wm. Blake’s Designs For The Grave
There was a time before the chick could fly, But still was screened by the maternal wing,
Is this indeed All-Hallow's day, When fairies hold their annual play? As out of school like bees they fly,
An Autumn Evening
Dinner and day together go, As round the table still we dwell, Watching the sun descending slow,
In the first watch of the night,
One candle all my light,
I saw a Spirit near the door
Standing raised above the floor,
In the air he was, yet standing,
Feet placed flat as on some landing;
So I turned my elbowed chair.
He stood still there,—
Like tarnished silver, dark yet bright,