On William Morris

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1871 September
Rhyme: aa
Meter: iambic tetrameter
Genre: epigram


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the 1911.

Scholarly Commentary


The sketch was executed on 11 September and has the couplet text subjoined below the drawing. Text and picture represent DGR's commentary on Morris's fishing at Kelmscott. DGR sent a copy of the couplet to William Bell Scott in a letter of 15 September 1871. Where the couplet in the drawing reads “Morris”, in the letter it reads “Poet”. When WMR published the couplet (see his 1911 edition), that word is “Skald”, a variant WMR derives from the first printing of the letter in Scott's Autobiographical Notes, II. 157 . Scott made the change in this first printed text, presumably, because DGR wrote several letters in which he remarked that after Morris's first trip to Iceland he ought thenceforth to be called not “Poet” or “Bard” but “Skald”.

The subject of the epigram is Morris's fondness for fishing, which had no interest at all for DGR. DGR's comment in the letter he wrote to Scott from Kelmscott is revealing: “One day [Morris] was here, he went for a day's fishing in our punt, the chief result of which was a sketch I inscribed as follows—‘Enter Poet, moored in a punt,/ And Jacks and Tenches exeunt.’” (see the letter to Scott of 15 September 1871 ).

Printing History

First published in William Bell Scott's Autobiographical Notes II. 157 , and first collected by WMR in his edition of 1911.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1