Fancies at Leisure [Part I]

William Michael Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1849
Genre: bouts rimés


◦ Fredeman 145-148

◦ Fredeman, The P.R.B. Journal, 46

Scholarly Commentary


WMR said that he wrote these poems as bouts rimés in 1849 with John Everett Millais.

Along with Patmore's “Moon and Stars”, three of these poems (“Noon Rest”, “A Quiet Place”, and “A Fall of Rain”) were delivered to Tupper for the original proofs as a replacement for Cave Thomas's aborted article on “Nature”. WMR decided to include these in the second issue of The Germ in place of his blank-verse poem “The Castle”. In preparing the original three poems for publication, WMR wrote three more, also to be included among the “Fancies at Leisure”: “In Spring”, “In Summer”, and “Sheer Waste” (originally “The Far Niente”). The latter was included with the first three in the second issue, while the other two were reserved for the third issue of the magazine. WMR describes the second issue as follows: “The first three of these were written to bouts-rimes. As to No. 1, ‘Noon Rest’, I have a tolerably clear recollection that the rhymes were prescribed to me by Millais, on one of the days in 1849 when I was sitting to him for the head of Lorenzo in his first Preraphaelite picture from Keats's ‘Isabella’. No. 4, ‘Sheer Waste’ was not a bouts rimés performance. It was chiefly the outcome of an early afternoon spent lazily in Regent's Park” (“Introduction” to the 1901 facsimile reprint of The Germ, p. 22).

The whole sequence comprises nine poems. They were published, however, in two parts: four in The Germ no. 2 and five others in no. 3.

These poems are usefully compared with the series of bouts rimés sonnets that DGR composed in 1848 to rhymes set by WMR. The difference is striking. In terms of a traditional distinction made for Pre-Raphaelite work, WMR's poems are distinctly Ruskinian whereas DGR's already display a strong element of the Paterian. DGR's sonnets are gathered together by WMR in his 1911 edition at pages 263-267.

Printing History

First printed in The Germ no. 2, pages 76-78.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1