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Sonnet LXVI. The Heart of the Night.

Sonnet LXVI. The Heart of the Night.

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Text and Notes



177



III. THE HUSBANDMEN.



Though God, as one that is an householder,

Called these to labour in his vineyard first,

Before the husk of darkness was well burst

Bidding them grope their way out and bestir,

(Who, questioned of their wages, answered, “Sir,

Unto each man a penny:”) though the worst

Burthen of heat was theirs and the dry thirst:

Though God hath since found none such as these were

To do their work like them: – Because of this

Stand not ye idle in the market-place.

Which of ye knoweth he is not that last

Who may be first by faith and will? – yea, his

The hand which after the appointed days

And hours shall give a Future to their Past?



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Date of Publication: 1881, B&S

Date of Composition: 1848 (dated on Huntington MS; dated 1849 on

Beinecke MS but 1848 in Works 656)

Manuscripts:

(1) Huntington HM 6086a (2) (3) Fitzwilliam HL fols 92a, 93a (4) Beinecke,

Tinker 1798 (5) LC Misc. MSS 1390 (6) Ros. and DAM Proofs Sig. Q, p. 238, 4,

6 May

Revisions/Variants:

1. Hun. prefaces the text with the following passage copied by DGR from

the Bible:

‘To the young Painters of England,

(In memory of those before Raffael)

A man that was an householder went out early in the morning to hire laborers

into his vineyard; and he agreed with the laborers for a penny a day ... And

about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle in the

market-place ... and saith unto them; go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that ye shall receive; so when even was come, they that were

hired about the eleventh hour received likewise every man a penny. So the

last shall be first, and the first last.

S.Matt. Ch.XX.’



178



The House of Life



2. All MSS/B&S

title

To the young Painters of England,

(In memory of those before

Raffael)/ Hun.

Old and New/ Fitz.(1)

Old and New Art

III. The Husbandmen./ Fitz.(2),

Tink., LC

III. The Husbandmen.

4 bestir:/bestir, Hun.

6 penny”:/penny:” Hun., Fitz.(1)

7 theirs, and/theirs and Hun.

8 were,/were Hun.

10 market-place:/market-place. Hun.

11 knoweth, he/knoweth he Hun.,

Fitz.(1), Tink.

12 that his/ Hun. that his/ Tink.,

Fitz.(1)

yea, his/ yea, his

Fitz.(2)

13–14

Is not the hand which, after the

set days,

Shall give a Future to their

goodly Past?/ Hun.

13–14

Is not the hand which, after the

set days


goodly past?>

And hours, shall give a future to

their past?/ Fitz.(1)



13–14

Is not the hand which after the

set days

And hours shall give a future to

their past?/ Tink.

13–14


set days>

The hand which after the

appointed days

And hours shall give a Future to

their Past?/ Fitz.(2)

The hand which after the

appointed days

And hours shall give a Future to

their Past?

3. Revisions in proof:

2 WMR capitalized ‘His’ in his eds

of 1886, 1904 and 1911, without

MS authority.

6 WMR red-pencilled ‘penny:” ‘

on his copy of the 4 May DAM

proofs, saying ‘I shd. write “: ‘,

which form DGR had used in

Hun. and Fitz.(1), but he did not

restore it in B&S. WMR used his

own preferred reading in 1886

and 1904 but reverted to the B&S

reading in Works.

8 WMR replaced ‘hath’ with ‘has’

in his eds of 1886, 1904 and 1911,

without MS authority

10 market-place.

Ros., DAM 6 May



Text and Notes



179



SONNET LXXVII.

SOUL’S BEAUTY.



Under the arch of Life, where love and death,

Terror and mystery, guard her shrine, I saw

Beauty enthroned; and though her gaze struck awe,

I drew it in as simply as my breath.

Hers are the eyes which, over and beneath,

The sky and sea bend on thee, – which can draw,

By sea or sky or woman, to one law,

The allotted bondman of her palm and wreath.

This is that Lady Beauty, in whose praise

Thy voice and hand shake still, – long known to thee

By flying hair and fluttering hem, – the beat

Following her daily of thy heart and feet,

How passionately and irretrievably,

In what fond flight, how many ways and days!



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Date of Publication: 1868, Notes on the Royal Academy Exhibition, 48

1870, Poems (‘Sonnets for Pictures and

Other Sonnets’ 270)

Date of Composition: 1866 (DGRDW 55–56)

Letter:

DGR to ?George Rae, [May 66] (WEF 66.90.1,Vol. VI) : The oil Sibylla

Palmifera (S.193, Pl. 285) was painted between 1866–70 from Alexa Wilding

for DGR’s patron Rae, to whom he explained this title as marking ‘the

leading place which I intend her to hold among my beauties’ (WEF 66.6).

When he sent the canvas to be enlarged in May 1866, he wrote: ‘I have

somewhat extended my idea of the picture, and have written a sonnet

(which I subjoin and shall have put on the frame) to embody the conception

– that of Beauty the Palm-giver, i.e., the Principle of Beauty, which draws all

high-toned men to itself, whether with the aim of embodying it in art, or

only of attaining its enjoyment in life’ (quoted DGRDW 55–56). The sonnet

was never inscribed on the frame (see WEF 70.277&n1 and 73.330).

Manuscripts:

(1) DAM Box 22: not in PFB 3) (2) Fitzwilliam HL fol. 94a (3) Poems Proof

State 2 {Princeton} (4) Fitzwilliam HL fol. 9a



180



The House of Life



Revisions/Variants:

1. All MSS/B&S

title

Sibylla Palmifera./ DAM, Notes on R.A.

Sibylla Palmifera.

(For a Picture.)/ Fitz.(1), Poems all

eds

Soul’s Beauty

1 life,/Life all MSS, Notes on R.A.

7 Through sea/By sea DAM

13 irretrievably Fitz.

2. Revisions in proof:

1 Life Proof State 2, Prin.

14 [DGR wrote his publisher Ellis 18

May 70 (WEF 70.160) to complain

that ‘In’ had fallen out of this line

in the second ed., though it was



in place for the first; this error

was corrected in the third ed.]

3. DAM Box 43 contains pages from

the seventh ed. of Poems (1873) used

as printer’s copy for the two vols of

1881; on p. 270 DGR has marked

this sonnet for deletion from the

‘Sonnets for Pictures’ section. It was

then moved to HL.

4. On MS (4), which contains a fair

copy of Sonnet 5, DGR has written,

in a nearly-obliterated pencil note,

‘Palmifera and Lilith to be called

Soul’s Beauty and Body’s Beauty.’



5. WMR noted that the appearance of Sonnets 77–78 in 1868 marked ‘the

first move towards poetic publicity which had been made by Dante Rossetti

since the death of his wife’ (Works 656). Arguing against WBS’s attempt to

take credit for rekindling DGR’s interest in writing poetry when he feared

he could no longer paint because of failing eyesight, WMR notes that his

brother had resumed his career as a poet before he visited Penkill Castle:

‘[I]n the spring of 1868 Rossetti had already made an appearance in public

print as a poet; introducing, into a pamphlet-review of pictures of that year

[Notes on the Royal Academy Exhibition], three sonnets recently written for

paintings of his own – Lady Lilith, Sibylla Palmifera, and Venus Verticordia.

The two former have since been entitled Body’s Beauty and Soul’s Beauty.

This pamphlet-review was the joint work of Mr. Swinburne and myself, and

the sonnets were inserted in Mr. Swinburne’s section of the publication. I

can remember that the issuing of these sonnets was done with some definite

idea of following them up by other public appearances in verse, and therefore

the conception of “living for his poetry” was decidedly in Rossetti’s mind

before he went to Penkill in September 1868. The publication in the spring of

1868 was a sort of feeler, leading on to the printing of several sonnets in the

Fortnightly Review for March 1869’ (FLM 270–1).



Text and Notes



181



SONNET LXXVIII.

BODY’S BEAUTY.



Of Adam’s first wife, Lilith, it is told

(The witch he loved before the gift of Eve,)

That, ere the snake’s, her sweet tongue could deceive,

And her enchanted hair was the first gold.

And still she sits, young while the earth is old,

And, subtly of herself contemplative,

Draws men to watch the bright web she can weave,

Till heart and body and life are in its hold.

The rose and poppy are her flowers; for where

Is he not found, O Lilith, whom shed scent

And soft-shed kisses and soft sleep shall snare?

Lo! as that youth’s eyes burned at thine, so went

Thy spell through him, and left his straight neck bent

And round his heart one strangling golden hair.



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Date of Publication: 1868, Notes on the Royal Academy Exhibition 47

1870, Poems (‘Sonnets for Pictures and

Other Sonnets’ 269)

Date of Composition: 1864–65 (DGRDW 145 & 293)

MS Source:

Duke Notebook I [not printed in PFB 1)]:

‘LILITH

from Goëthe

Hold thou thy heart against her shining hair,

If, by thy fate, she spread it once for thee;

For when she nets a young man in that snare,

So twines she him he never may be free.’

WMR prints these lines in Works (541) as DGR’s translation from the

Brocken-scene in Faust, done while ‘my brother was projecting his picture of

Lilith towards 1866’ (Works 679).

In 1869 DGR completed his ballad Eden Bower, in which Lilith speaks these

lines:



182



The House of Life

‘All the threads of my hair are golden,

And there in a net his [Adam’s] heart was holden.’

[stanza 6, lines 3–4]



Compare also Sonnet 1, Love Enthroned, lines 5–8.

Letter:

DGR to T.G. Hake, 21 Apr 70 (WEF 70.110):

‘You ask me about Lilith – I suppose referring to the picture-sonnet.

The picture [S.205, Pl. 293] is called Lady Lilith by rights (only I

thought this wd present a difficulty in print without paint to explain

it,) and represents a modern Lilith combing out her abundant golden

hair & gazing on herself in the glass with that self-absorption by

whose strange fascination such natures draw others within their

own circle. The idea you indicate (viz: of the perilous principle in

the world being female from the first) is about the most essential

notion of the sonnet. I am glad you like Eden Bower.’

Manuscripts:

(1) Printed version (purportedly transcribed from picture-frame of S.205) in

F.G. Stephens 1894: 68 (2) Fitzwilliam HL fol. 95a (3) Written on the frame of

Lady Lilith (S. 205. pl. 293), oil painting in the Bancroft Collection, DAM and

printed with the picture in Surtees {see WEF 66.74n1} (4) Fitzwilliam HL fol.

9a (5) Poems, Proof State 2 {Princeton} (6) DAM and Ros. Proofs Sig. Q, p. 240,

4, 6, 9 May.

Revisions/Variants:

1. All MSS/B&S

title

Lady Lilith./ Notes on R.A., DAM

Lilith<(For a Picture)>/

Body’s Beauty Fitz.(1)

2 Eve)/ Notes on R.A.

Eve),/ Stephens Eve,)

6 by herself/of herself Stephens

7 net/web all MSS

9 Rose, foxglove, poppy, are her

flowers:

for where/ Fitz.(1)

Rose, foxglove, poppy, are her

flowers: for where/ Notes on

R.A., DAM

9 The rose and poppy are her

flowers; for where

11 soft-shed fingers/soft-shed

kisses Fitz.(1), Notes on R.A.,

DAM



soft-shed sleep/soft sleep Stephens

13 bent,/bent Notes on R.A.

2. Revisions in proof:

title

Lilith.

(For a Picture.) Poems – all editions

[untitled in early proof states of HL

section in B&S; title Body’s Beauty

added by DGR on DAM 4 May,

Ros. 6 May]

7 web DAM 9 May

9
flowers:>



The rose and poppy are her

flowers; Proof State 2, Prin.

11 soft-shed

kisses Proof State 2, Prin.

13 bent DAM 6 May



Text and Notes

3. Harry Buxton Forman, one of the

earliest critics to write sympathetically about DGR’s sonnets, preferred

the painterly and fleshly qualities of

Lady Lilith before it got revised in

proof to become Lilith: ‘In substituting at a later time “the rose and

poppy” for “rose, foxglove, poppy,”

and “soft-shed kisses” for “softshed fingers”, the poet doubtless

followed a delicate as well as an

artistic bent; but it is questionable

whether the changes do not rob the

sonnet of some pictorial beauty on

the one hand, and on the other of

some of its masculine force in

embodying a type of sensuous

beauty as distinct from spiritual

beauty’ (Forman 1871: 202–3). It is

interesting to note Forman’s

perception of a contrast here between

sensuous and spiritual beauty ten

years before DGR retitled these

sonnets and added them to HL as 77

and 78 in order to emphasize such a

contrast (see Note 5. below).

4. DAM Box 44 contains pages from

the seventh ed. of Poems (1873) used



183



as printer’s copy for the two

volumes of 1881; on p. 269 DGR has

marked this sonnet for deletion

from the ‘Sonnets for Pictures’

section. It was then moved to HL.

5. On MS (4), which contains a fair

copy of Sonnet 5, DGR has written,

in a nearly-obliterated pencil note,

‘Palmifera and Lilith to be called

Soul’s Beauty and Body’s Beauty.’

6. In RP, WMR printed an MS sent

to DGR by Ponsonby Lyons dated

18 Nov 69; containing several

paragraphs of curious lore about

Talmudic and other legends of

Lilith, it had evidently been

prepared at the poet’s request

(483–86). The sonnet and painting

resonate with significance for

Decadence, Symbolism and Art

Nouveau. Begun in 1864 with

Fanny Cornforth as the model and

completed for Leyland in 1868, it

was repainted with Alexa Wilding’s

face in 1872–73 (see Allan and Page

Life’s Appendix 3 on AW as DGR’s

model in WEF Vol VI).



184



The House of Life



SONNET LXXIX.

THE MONOCHORD.



Is it this sky’s vast vault or ocean’s sound

That is Life’s self and draws my life from me,

And by instinct ineffable decree

Holds my breath quailing on the bitter bound?

Nay, is it Life or Death, thus thunder-crown’d,

That ‘mid the tide of all emergency

Now notes my separate wave, and to what sea

Its difficult eddies labour in the ground?

Oh! what is this that knows the road I came,

The flame turned cloud, the cloud returned to flame,

The lifted shifted steeps and all the way? –

That draws round me at last this wind-warm space,

And in regenerate rapture turns my face

Upon the devious coverts of dismay?



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Date of Publication: 1870, Poems (‘Sonnets for Pictures and Other Sonnets’ 282)

Date of Composition: 1870, Poems, Proof State 15

Letter:

DGR to ACS [22 Mar] 70 (WEF 70.64):

‘I ... have written just a sheet of new matter for my book, which is gone to

the printer, and shall reach you as soon as I have a revise. It consists chiefly

of “The Stream’s Secret”. ... there are a few new Sonnets too – .’ DGR here

refers to Proof State 15 of Poems, a single printer’s sheet of 16 pages

containing The Stream’s Secret, paged 1–12 on this sheet, followed by four

sonnets to be added to HL and ‘Sonnets for Pictures’ sections: The Monochord

appears at the end of the latter section on p. 282 (p. 16 on this sheet). See

notes to Sonnets 11, The Love-Letter and 21, Love-Sweetness above.

Manuscripts:

(1) Bodleian Eng. poet. d. 44 fol. 7 (2) Poems Proof State 15: BL {Ashley 1404,

Add. MSS 45353}; {Princeton} (3) Beinecke Tauchnitz (4) B&S Proofs Sig. R,

p. 241: Beinecke {Tinker}, Ros., DAM 5, 9, 10 May.



Text and Notes



185



Revisions/Variants:

1. Bod. is the only complete MS

version:

DuringMusic

1 Is it the moved air or the moving

sound

2 That is Life’s self and draws my

life from me,

3 And by instinct ineffable decree

4 Holds my breath quailing on the

bitter bound?

5 Surely an imminent visage, from

some mound

6 Watching the tide of all

emergency

7 Now notes my separate wave,

and to what sea

8 Its difficult eddies labour

underground.

9 And what is this that knows the

road I came

10 The flame turned cloud, the cloud

returned to flame,

11 The lifted shifted steeps and all the

way? –

12 That enters with me now the

wind-warm space,

13 And in regenerate rapture turns

my face

14 Upon the devious coverts of

dismay?

2. Bod./B&S

title

During Music./The Monochord.

1 Is it the moved air or the moving

sound/

Is it this sky’s vast vault or

ocean’s sound

[No MS authority was found for

this revision]

5–6

Surely an imminent visage, from

some mound

Watching the tide of all

emergency,/



5–6

Nay, is it Life or Death, thus

thunder- crown’d,

That ‘mid the tide of all

emergency

8 underground./in the ground?

9 And what/Oh! what

12 That enters with me now the

wind-warm space,/

That draws round me at last

this wind- warm space,

3. Revisions in proof:

title

The Monochord. (Written during Music.)/

Poems Proof State 15, all eds The

Monochord1<(Written during Music)>

[below text] 1‘That sublimated

mood of the soul in which a

separate essence of itself seems as it

were to oversoar and

survey it.’/

[on p. 282 of Tauchnitz DGR has

deleted the subtitle and written the

note above the text; on p. 241 of the

first proofs of B&S the note was

printed as footnote 1 beneath the

text, the footnote number appearing

in superscript beside the title. On

the Ros. (5 May) and Tinker (9 May)

proofs, DGR deleted the footnote.

On the Tinker (9 May) and DAM

(10 May) proofs, the superscript 1

following the title was deleted, the

title thus becoming, simply, The

Monochord. In the fifth and sixth

eds of Poems, the period following

the title was omitted; it was

restored in the seventh ed.]

12 draws round

me Proof State 15, BL Add.MSS

4. Instructions written on proofs:

‘To come last in the book’ Prin.;

‘Comes last in the book’ Ash. 1404;



186



The House of Life



‘I have had no revise of this sheet

[Sig. R] as yet. I now send on a

second proof with further changes

in it.’ Ros.



5. DAM Box 44 contains the

Tauchnitz p. 282 on which DGR

deleted this sonnet in order to move

it into HL.



SONNET LXXX.

FROM DAWN TO NOON.



As the child knows not if his mother’s face

Be fair; nor of his elders yet can deem

What each most is; but as of hill or stream

At dawn, all glimmering life surrounds his place:

Who yet, tow’rd noon of his half-weary race,

Pausing awhile beneath the high sun-beam

And gazing steadily back, – as through a dream,

In things long past new features now can trace: –

Even so the thought that is at length fullgrown

Turns back to note the sun-smit paths, all grey

And marvellous once, where first it walked alone;

And haply doubts, amid the unblenching day,

Which most or least impelled its onward way, –

Those unknown things or these things overknown.



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Date of Publication: 1881, B&S

Date of Composition: 1871, WEF 71.153

Letter:

DGR to T.G. Hake, 22 Sep 71 (WEF 71.153):

‘I have some sonnets lying under my eye & will copy one instead of tearing

off the last leaf of this note.’ DGR enclosed a fair copy of From Dawn to Noon.

Manuscripts:

(1) DAM Box 22 {PFB 3): 55} (2) Fitzwilliam HL fol. 97a (3) Bodleian Eng.

poet. d. 43 fol. 70b (4) Princeton HL fol. 37a (5) WEF 71.153 (6) DAM and

Ros. Proofs, Sig. R, pp. 242–43, 5, 9, 10 May

Revisions/Variants:

1. DAM/B&S

4

all glimmering

9 Thought/thought





the Thought that is at length

fullgrown/

the thought that is at length

fullgrown



Text and Notes

10

sun-smit paths, all grey

13 impelled

2. Revisions in proof:

14 those things [then

‘o’ cancelled, ‘these’ marked

‘stet’ DAM, Ros. May 5]

3. In DAM 5 May, DGR changed the

sonnet number from 80 to 81; in the

DAM proof of 9 May it appeared as



187



81 on p. 243, having been interchanged with 84, Farewell to the Glen

(appearing on p. 243 in DAM 5 May)

but in the DAM proof of 10 May it

reappears as sonnet 80 on p. 242; in

the 10 May proof Farewell to the Glen

appears on p. 246 as 84 with Memorial

Thresholds printed on p. 243 as 81

(see note 3. under 81).

4. WEF 71.53 is identical with B&S.



SONNET LXXXI.

MEMORIAL THRESHOLDS.



What place so strange, – though unrevealèd snow

With unimaginable fires arise

At the earth’s end, – what passion of surprise

Like frost-bound fire-girt scenes of long ago?

Lo! this is none but I this hour; and lo!

This is the very place which to mine eyes

Those mortal hours in vain immortalize,

‘Mid hurrying crowds, with what alone I know.

City, of thine a single simple door,

By some new Power reduplicate, must be

Even yet my life-porch in eternity,

Even with one presence filled, as once of yore:

Or mocking winds whirl round a chaff-strown floor

Thee and thy years and these my words and me.

Date of Publication: 1881, B&S

Date of Composition: 1873, Works

MS Source:

Ashley Notebooks 1410 (BL)

Notebook No. 1, p. 40

‘As when a man whose brain is all on flame

Out of himself with wonder of new woe

Looks round upon all things he yet doth know

And on a [?dear dead face...the same]’



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