Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the The first edition of the 1881
A New Edition.
Wellington died on 14 September 1852 and his funeral two months later turned into a monumental national event. The most
famous of the poetical tributes is Tennyson's “Ode on the Death of the Duke of
Wellington”, but DGR's briefer verse
tribute—the draft manuscript is dated 18 November 1852— yields nothing in point of jingoist fervour to the ponderous
encomium fashioned by the poet laureate. The reference to Napoleon II and
the coup d'etat
of December 1851 underscores the political currency that DGR (in contrast to Tennyson) gives to his verses. DGR's poem
pivots on the contrasting legacies of Wellington and Napoleon I.
Three manuscripts of the poem survive. The earliest is the
draft which is housed in the library of the Delaware Art Museum. Of
the two later copies, one (the earlier) is in the Beinecke Library,
Yale University, the other is at the Lilly Library, University of Indiana. The Yale
manuscript, which is crossed through by DGR, has a pair of
notes by WMR: one states that it “is one of the various MSS. by my Brother which he buried in 1862
in the coffin of his wife, and which were recovered thence in 1869”; the other that
“the writing is probably contemporaneous with the date when the poem was composed,
toward the end of 1852”. WMR
found the manuscript among DGR's papers in April 1882 shortly after DGR's death. The manuscript exhibits
the deterioration at the top that is typical of the manuscripts that have survived from the exhumed volume.
The Lilly Library manuscript is a later fair copy—almost certainly made in 1869
from the exhumed manuscript. It introduces revisions at the title and lines 62 and 72 that bring
the poem into its received textual state.
DGR first printed the poem in his 1881 volume
A New Edition and collected thereafter.