Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the
DGR's manuscript letter to his brother
DGR's coarse sonnet is one of the most autobiographically revealing texts we have from him.
A classic example of sexist prurience, the lines are all the more valuable for the
unguarded character of their expression. Needless to say, and as DGR's comment on the lines indicates (see his letter to WMR of 8 October 1849,
where DGR sent the sonnet to his brother), he had no intention of seeing the sonnet pass beyond his brother's ken (or perhaps his brother and
some of the PRB brethren as well).
The sonnet was composed around 7 October 1849.
First printed by WMR, in an expurgated text, in
1911. First unexpurgated printing is in
Odd at first though it may seem, the sonnet is closely
connected with DGR's most politically and socially self-conscious writings. Modern Europe and especially France is the focus
of these works, as one can see by comparing this sonnet with (for example)
“After the French Liberation of Italy”
and “On Refusal of Aid Between Nations”, as
well as with the other poems associated more directly with those works: for example,
“On a Handful of French Money” and
“The Staircase of Notre Dame, Paris”
(both written in France at the same time as this sonnet),
and “Jenny”, DGR's great summatory treatment of the
set of related topics that run through these works.