Unidentified Christina Rossetti Poem - Calling All Literary Detectives!
The Victorian era saw the rise of the private detective in both real life and in fiction. Long before Sherlock Holmes’s adventures in ‘The Strand Magazine’ kept London’s commuters on the edges of their seats, Ignatius Paul Pollaky’s real-life investigations caught the city’s imagination. Known as ‘Paddington’ Pollaky after his office at Paddington Green, the Hungarian-born detective became famous in the 1860s when he began to use the London Times ‘Agony’ column to publish cryptic communiqués such as ‘Marquise, have patience; 10 minutes after midnight – POLLAKY’. He was immortalised in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience in the lyric: ‘the keen penetration of Paddington Pollaky’.
If Pollaky were with us today he would almost certainly use the internet to post his messages, and so in that spirit, I would like ask for help from any aspiring literary detectives out there. I’ve received an enquiry from the British Library about a Christina Rossetti poem which has gone missing. The poem was last seen in the first Christmas special of ‘The Vicar of Dibley’. But enquiries to the BBC as to the poem’s source have so far gone unanswered. The British Library have only TWO clues to the identity of this Christina Rossetti poem:
Title: ‘The Hidden Heart’
One line: ‘I looked this morn upon my face’
I have been unable to trace it so far in any published collection of Rossetti’s poems. If you recognise this poem, approach it with caution. Then send it on to me, or post your discovery in the ‘Comments’ beneath this post. Any and all clues will be much appreciated! Even if your search proves fruitless, let me know your methods, as they may help bring us closer to solving the mystery. As Mr. Holmes might say, ‘when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth’.