Baum, Analytical List of Manuscripts in the Duke
University Library, 5-6
The poem is more an intellectual exercise than anything
else. Although DGR had very little practical knowledge of music,
the idea of music was extremely important to him, and it appears
repeatedly in both his textual and pictorial works in central ways, as
a figure for a Pythagorean ideal of harmony. In this respect, the poem should be read with any of the other poems in the “Lyrics &c.” section of the 1881 Ballads and Sonnets—a group of poems where the musical forms of verse are a recurrent and predominating occupation.
In his journal entry for 28 December 1849 WMR noted that
DGR had just written this poem under the title Lines and
Music. The draft of this early text is at Duke. He made a
copy of the poem in the summer of 1869 and printed it in August among the poems included in the Penkill Proofs, but he removed it from those works very quickly.
DGR first printed the poem in August 1869 among the poems included in the
Proofs, but he did not print it in the subsequent proofs. He
first published the poem in his volume Ballads and Sonnets.