Memorial Thresholds

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1873
Rhyme: abbaabbacddccd
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: sonnet


◦ WMR, DGR Designer and Writer, 243-244

◦ Baum, ed., House of Life, 191-193


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the 1881 Ballads and Sonnets first edition text.

Scholarly Commentary


The sonnet inevitably recalls Tennyson's urban wanderings in In Memoriam. To that degree its autobiographical reference leads to DGR's wife Elizabeth. But the sonnet connects with numerous passages within “The House of Life” sequence that evoke the figure of the Innominata: for example, “Secret Parting”, “Inclusiveness”, “Lost on Both Sides”. But connections ramify much further, as the relation of this sonnet to (for instance) “Soul's Beauty” also makes clear.

Textual History: Composition

Four manuscripts descend to us: a draft copy in the Delaware/Bancroft collection; a corrected copy in the Fitzwilliam composite “House of Life” sequence; a fair copy in the Library of Congress; another fair copy in the Bodleian “Kelmscott Love Sonnets”.

Printing History

First published in the 1881 Ballads and Sonnets, collected thereafter.


WMR has this comment on the sonnet: “I surmise that Rossetti may have been thinking of the conclusion of Edgar Poe's strange story, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym: Pym is represented as approaching the Antarctic Pole, and witnessing marvellous appearances, partly in the nature of an aurora borealis. This story—and many of the other stories and the leading poems by Poe—proved singularly fascinating to Rossetti in his youth: indeed he always entertained a very high estimate of the powers of Poe, and of his best performances.” (See WMR, DGR as Designer and Writer, 243n.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 7-1873.raw.xml