Caine, Recollections, 162-166.
Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the Ballads and Sonnets first edition text.
The best commentary on the sonnet is DGR's own, which he wrote for Hall Caine in a letter of 27 July 1880, about a month after composing the sonnet: “About Coleridge (whom I only view as a poet, his other aspects being to my apprehension mere bogies) I conceive the leading point about his work is its Human Love, and the leading point about his career the sad fact of how little of it was devoted to that work. These are the points made in my sonnet, and the last is such as I (alas!) can sympathize with, though what has excluded more poetry with me (mountains of it I don't want to heap) has chiefly been livelihood necessity. I'll copy the sonnet opposite; only I'd rather you kept it to yourself. Five years of good poetry is too large a tether to give his Muse, I know”. These remarks show the secret personal inflection that runs through the sonnet.
DGR seems to have written the sonnet shortly before 20 June 1880 (see his letter to Watts-Dunton of that date in
Fredeman, Correspondence, 80. 223
). Two manuscripts of the sonnet are known—the fair copy in the British Library that was printer's copy for the 1881 printing, and another fair copy enclosed in DGR's letter to Caine of 27 July 1880.
It was first published in the 1881 Ballads and Sonnets as one of the group of sonnets he headed with the title Five English Poets. It was collected thereafter but in WMR's 1911 edition the five sonnets are detached from each other and printed separately.