The Laird of Waristoun

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

A. C. Swinburne

General Description

Date: 1861
Rhyme: abcb
Meter: imabic tetrameter
Genre: ballad


◦ Francis James Child, ed., English and Scottish Ballads, III. 107-109, 316-323

◦ Anne Henry Ehrenpreis, “Swinburne's Edition of Popular Ballads”, 559-571

◦ Benjamin Franklin Fisher IV, “Rossetti and Swinburne in Tandem: The Laird of Waristoun” , 229-239


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the Princeton Library Manuscript.

Scholarly Commentary


Written sometime in 1861 when DGR and Swinburne were working closely together, this ballad is their joint composition, as the transcribed text of the surviving draft shows. DGR wrote the first 80 lines and Swinburne completed the work. Nonetheless, despite this collaboration, the poem is clearly dominated by Swinburne's style and imagination, and not by Rossetti's. The poems by DGR that stand closest to this work are “Stratton Water”,, “Dennis Shand”,, and “Sister Helen”,

Textual History: Composition

Only one manuscript witness survives, the corrected draft manuscript that was jointly composed by DGR and Swinburne. The corrections in the text are mostly Swinburne's: all of the corrections are his except for a few that DGR made in his section of the ballad, the first 80 lines, as he was composing it. Swinburne himself revised both his own text and DGR's after their initial acts of composition. DGR began the poem, Swinburne finished it. In completing the work, Swinburne clearly made revisions that stamped the poem with his inimitable style of ballad pastiche.

Printing History

The ballad was first printed in 1973 by Benjamin Franklin Fisher IV (see bibliography). The text there is not completely accurate.


The poem is a literary reworking of the old Scottish ballad of the same title. DGR and Swinburne found their text in the 1861 edition of Francis Child's English and Scottish Ballads 1861 III. 107-109, 316-323 .

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 4-1861.raw.xml