The Ashley Library, IX. 115-116
◦ Doughty 400-401, 688n
Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the Ashley Library text.
The poem is a companion piece to
Last Fire, one of the
so-called Kelmscott love sonnets DGR wrote in the summer of 1871. The poem was
written to be included in an expanded version of The House of Life, as the
Troxell manuscript shows,
but its erotic frankness almost certainly led DGR to keep the poem back. Buchanan's
notorious review attacking DGR's “fleshly” poetry, published in
the fall of 1871, appeared only a few months after this sonnet was written, and
caused DGR to remove Nuptial Sleep from his next edition of the sonnet sequence. If anything, “First Fire” would have seemed to
Buchanan an even more outrageous work.
Though neither this sonnet nor its companion “Last Fire” appear among the Kelmscott love sonnets, but the stubs in that book indicate that they must originally have been written there. The fair copy in the Ashley collection is almost certainly the text that was in that book.
Doughty (688n) dates this work 1869, but the manuscript in the
Troxell Collection at Princeton indicates 1871 as the date of this work.
DGR did not revise this poem for publication,
but the surviving documents show alternate readings at different points.
First published in 1960 by
Victorian Romantic, 400-401
Like the other erotic sonnets in The House of Life, this sonnet is a record of
DGR's relations with Jane Morris.