Baum, ed., The House of Life, 78-79
WMR, DGR as Designer and Writer, 190-191
Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the Poems 1870 First Edition text.
The sonnet functions in
The House of Life sequence as an important transitional
device. The manifest iconographical structure of the sonnet is here focused on the
subject that has dominated the sequence to this point:
Love. But the artifice of this work is so extreme that another crucial motif
gets introduced obliquely: the subject of Art, and (implicitly) the relation of Art to
Love. The next sonnet in the sequence, “The
Portrait”, will open this topic in an explicit way. DGR will elaborate the
topic more thoroughly in the 1881 version of The House of Life, which
contains the Old and New Art
Various dates have been suggested: “Before April
1870” (see Peattie,
Letters of William Michael Rossetti
The House of Life, 78
; following Tisdel);
“Rossetti's ‘In Memoriam’”
The poem must have been written before early October 1869 since it appears
in the First Trial Book (early October
1869). It was probably written expressly for the evolving sequence of The House of Life, and so may be
assigned to August-September 1869. The only surviving manuscript is the draft in the Fitzwilliam composite “House of Life” manuscript.
Except for the changed title, the poem undergoes no important revisions after it appears
in print in the First Trial Book
in October 1869.
The allegorical form of this sonnet grounds its iconographical
structure. DGR gains an especially startling effect, however, because the sonnet
focuses on musical ideas. The interaction of these two schema establishes a synaesthesia
at a remarkably abstract level.
First printed in the First
Trial Book (early October 1869)
and kept through the remainder of the proofs for the 1870 Poems, where
it was first published, and retained in the corpus thereafter. It is The House of Life Sonnet VIII in
the 1870 volume, and Sonnet IX in
Like Love's Lovers, this poem is a highly mannered act of homage to stil
novisti and Petrarchan verse.