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"Winter My Secret: Linoleum Engraving”

By Emily Holmes

For my creative assignment, I chose the medium of a linoleum engraving. This medium mimics the wood engravings in which the illustrations we study in class were constructed on. The specific type of linoleum block chosen was the softest linoleum available, as it was the most malleable and easiest to carve.

My layout of the image was done specifically to incorporate the notions of reflection that are present in Victorian literature, as the image of the woman is shown looking at her reflection in a mirror. The mirror acts as a portal into a “languid summer day” of which she states, would be the only condition she would tell her secret. As the woman’s secret remains secret in the poem, I did not want to make assumptions so I stuck with a fairly ambiguous image. A mirror reflection in Victorian literature is known to stand in as a symbol of vanity, but also mediation, and both of these themes apply to Rossetti’s poem as the speaker is self-involved and enraptured with the power that her secret holds over the reader.  The image is mediated, as it is separated into two “scenes”: the present time the speaker is in, and the imaginary time she describes in the text. In the present time, the scene out the window behind her head depicts a barren winter scene, while the image in the mirror is more of a vision or fantasy.

I embedded the title block into the text itself to further highlight the complexity of the “unknowability” of information found in Rossetti’s poem. By placing the title block in the middle of the text, it disconnects the reader, much like the disconnection of information given to the reader by the speaker.