“Hardly more than metrical notes” is Baum's terse comment on this small late poem (Baum, Poems Ballads and Sonnets, 340n
). The remark is pertinent because the entirety of the “Lyrics &c.” section of Ballads and Sonnets is devoted to poems that exhibit more or less extravagant prosodic features. The poems are often quite cryptic as a result, but this piece is one the most enigmatic of the group.
This is a late poem, composed in 1881. A fragment of the first stanza is drafted into the small Notebook I in the British Library. Two integral manuscripts survive: a fair copy at Texas and the printer's copy at Princeton.
First published in the first edition of the 1881 Ballads and Sonnets, collected thereafter.