The subject is taken from 'Passion and Worship', no. VIII in Dante Gabriel Rossetti's House of Life sonnet sequence, published in 1870.
One flame-winged brought a white-winged harp-player
Even where my lady and I lay all alone:
Saying: 'Behold, this minstrel is unknown;
Bid him depart, for I am minstrel here:
Only my strains are to Love's dear ones dear.'
Then said I: 'Through thine hautboy's rapturous tone
Unto my lady still this harp makes moan,
And still she deems the cadence deep and clear.'
Then said my lady: 'Thou art Passion of Love,
And this Love's Worship: both he plights to me.
Thy mastering music walks the sunlit sea:
But where water trembles in the grove
And the wan moon is all the light thereof,
This harp still makes my name its voluntary'.
Rooke began working for Morris and Co. in 1869 and was the studio assistant to Sir Edward Burne-Jones from that year until Burne-Jones's death in 1898. He worked closely with Burne-Jones on many important commissions and subsequently completed a number of works, such as the mosaics in the American Church in Rome, after Burne-Jones's death. He was deeply involved in the Arts and Crafts movement, decorating furniture, designing stained glass windows and helping to found the Art Workers' Guild in 1884. An accurate draftsman, he was recommended to Ruskin by Burne-Jones, who sent Rooke to Venice to record the mosaics in St Mark's. Consequently until 1893 Rooke spent half of his time abroad working for Ruskin and afterwards making similar drawings for the Society for the Preservation of Pictorial Records of Ancient Works of Art. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1871 and was elected a member of the Royal Water-Colour Society in 1903.