Rossetti and the wombat

Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington kindly reminded me that Dante Gabriel Rossetti loved wombats.

The wombat was to become a principal obsession of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and his unofficial trademark. He wrote loving poems about the creature and captured it in paint and pen. He later bought two of them for £8, and added them to his Cheyne Walk menagerie, naming one of them Top after his rival in love, William Morris. The attraction apparently lay in the sheer absurdity of the beast and its funny-sounding name. ‘The Wombat is a Joy, a Triumph, a Delight, a Madness!’ Rossetti declared, and before long his crowd of acolytes embraced the wombat cult as a badge of loyalty to their leader.

Story and pictures.

Karl Popper favoured koala bears. When he was looking for a move from New Zealand in 1945 he wrote to his friend Ernst Gombrich “You kindly advise me to prefer Otago to Perth. But I don’t think you really know enough of Australia. By far the nicest animal there (and perhaps the loveliest animal that exists) is the Koala bear.”

3 thoughts on “Rossetti and the wombat”

  1. I thought I knew a bit about The Brotherhood, but I knew nothing of the wombat. Thanks Rafe. It gave me a good laugh.

  2. Rafe, your post reminded me of this. On the wombat, I’m in agreement with Rosetti.


    As you pound along the track
    Eyes wide open and ears pinned back
    You may have noticed those queer square turds
    And thought if not expressed in words
    The pain of such defecation
    Baffles the imagination
    But it ain’t done to entertain us
    The wombat has an oblong anus
    So if at night you hear pained cries
    Outside your tent, feel no surprise
    With eyes shut tight, teeth clenched with pain
    A wombat’s gone and crapped again!

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