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apparently did not think that the reader might reasonably ask, brink of what ?'

54. selfish shores : it is not easy to see in what the selfishness of the shore lay, unless it was in declining to admit the encroachment of the sea, which was • hurt and wounded' on that account. But the

Spasmodic School' seem to have attached more importance to sound than sense.

387 WILLIAM MORRIS (1834–96), poet, craftsman, printer, and Socialist, was educated at Marlborough School and Exeter College, Oxford, where he formed a lifelong friendship with Burne-Jones. Together with Rossetti he helped to found the Germ (see No. 379), and in 1856 the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine. His best-known poem is The Earthly Paradise (1868–70), and his most read prose work News from Nowhere, a sketch of the Socialist Utopia. He also helped to translate many Icelandic sagas, as well as the Odyssey and the Aeneid. He indulged in all his books in an inordinate love of archaisms, which gives them an air of artificiality that is doubly unfortunate in a man who was the embodi. ment of directness, clear vision, and sincerity.

This poem and the three which follow it are all from Morris's first book, The Defence of Guenevere and other Poems (1858). The first three of the four are taken in style or circumstance from Froissart's Chronicle, which deals with the wars of the 14th century. In the first old Sir John comes to see Sir Giles, a friend of his prime, who is living at the Duke's court; here he meets the Duchess, who before she married the Duke had loved Sir John, and he finds that his heart beats no whit the faster, and that he can criticize calmly the alterations which time had made in her and in his own feelings.

5. basnet : (or basinet), a small light steel headpiece, somewhat globular in shape with a point over the forehead.

6. salade : (or sallet), a similar headpiece, but without the point. Unless it was to follow a change of fashion I cannot see why Sir Giles's armour was altered

in this way.

13. to court : i.e. to the Duke's court.

14. With eyebrows up : i.e. in surprise to see the outward insignificance of the famous old warrior. There should be at least a semicolon in the middle of this line.

19. pagans : Sir Giles means the Turks, who are no more Pagans than are the Christians. The Turkish invasion of Greece took place in the middle of the 14th century, and was shortly followed by the capture of Adrianople and, in 1453, of Constantinople, which put an end to the Eastern Roman Empire. Eight years later the Turks came into conflict with Venice (for which see note to No. 211), and won from her many of her eastern possessions. Morris has rather mixed up the chronology.

27. things outwear : i.e. his own feelings.

52. brave : ' handsome'; the apples embroidered on them formed part of the Duke's armorial bearings.

71. these : the incidents of his bygone love. 72. smutch :

connected with the earlier verb to ‘smudge.'



388 The speaker tells how his brother, Lord Hugh, was surprised and hanged by his enemies.

389 Sir Robert de Marny, an English knight who had fought at Poitiers (1356), is riding through France with Jehane his mistress and a small company, when they are confronted by Godmar, a traitorous French knight, who was waiting with his men near his castle to slay Robert and carry off Jehane. Robert's men refuse to fight and themselves bind him and hand him over to Godmar. The rest of the tale is clear from the poem.

9. kirtle : petticoat.'

41, 42. to rend Her coif the wrong way from her head : a coif was a close-fitting cap tied under the chin. Jehane tried to pull hers down over her eyes that she might not see her lover slain.

45. At Poictiers, etc. : 'he breaks off without finishing the sentence in which he was going to tell her that at Poictiers the French outnumbered the English by five to one, and yet were defeated.

47. The Gascon frontier : in the reign of Edward III Guienne and Gascony were English territory.

51. those six men : the judges who would try her as a witch, and order her to be imprisoned in the Grand Châtelet, the most terrible of the Paris prisons, standing where the Place du Châtelet now is, the prison having been destroyed in 1802. Taken thence, she would be flung into the Seine to test her guilt, a test which told hardly on the reputed witch, for if she swam she was adjudged guilty and put to death ; her innocence was only established by her being drowned.

66. sword-hilts : as late as the middle of the 18th century the plural ‘hilts’ was used for the singular with the same meaning.

102. would fail : both the 1858 edition and that of 1904 give a full stop after “know' (1. 103); but since he obviously means that he would tell, I have substituted a note of interrogation—' Do you imagine that I would fail to tell ?'

109. gag me Robert : Robert' is the object of 'gag! and' me' an Ethic Dative equivalent to at my bidding.' On hearing Godmar speak of Jehane's death Sir Robert had uttered a second protest, calling forth this order from Godmar.

153. fitte : (or fytte, or fit) an obsolete word for a canto or other section of a poem.


The first appearance of this poem was in the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine for November 1856 ; it was reprinted with The Defence of Guenevere (1858).

11. Through the long twilight, etc. : this is the reading of both the above copies ; but Morris, under pressure of his friends, who objected to the cockney rime' of dawn and corn, substituted in his latest edition an inferior line ending in new-born,' apparently without noticing that he had used the rime a few lines above.


JAMES THOMSON (1834–82), described in D.N.B., to distinguish him from his namesake, the author of The Seasons (for whom see note to No. 122), aspoet and pessimist,' was a secularist and a friend of Bradlaugh, to whose paper, the National Reformer, he contributed many of his poems, including his best-known work, The City of Dreadful Night, reprinted in book form in 1880. His life bore a striking resemblance to that of Mangan (see note to No. 304), both in the unhappy love-affair in his early manhood and the deplorable lapse into poverty, misery, and intemperance which ensued. Few of his poems are as bright as this extract from ‘Sunday at Hampstead, written 1863–65, and published in the same volume as The City of Dreadful Night.


392 ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE (1837–1909), the greatest master of metre and the writer of some of the most musical verse in the English language, came to the front with Atalanta in Calydon (1864), to be followed two years later by Poems and Ballads, which by the sheer force of its style and the magnificence of its rhythm carried away many people who would otherwise have looked askance at some of the sensuous pictures therein presented. A violent republican and contemner of conventions, Swinburne was always fiercely assailed by those who loved to walk in trodden ways; but the wonderful beauty of his verse, added to the keen critical faculty he displayed in his prose works, of which Essays and Studies (1875) is the best known, won him increasing admiration among those whose literary taste is likely to prove to be that of posterity. Songs before Sunrise and two other series of Poems and Ballads maintained Swinburne's reputation as a lyric poet ; and in addition to much other work he wrote several dramas which display his great gifts in a less popular form.

This poem is from the first series of Poems and Ballads (1866).

Itylus : Aëdon, wife of Zethus, king of Thebes, and mother of one only child Itylus, being envious of the twelve children of her sister-in-law Niobe, resolved to slay the eldest of them, but in mistake slew her own son. Moved by her lamentations, Zeus, to save her from her husband's vengeance, turned her into a nightingale. In Swinburne's poem Itylus is confused with Itys, for whose tragic tale see note on No. 34, 1. 23.

22. the light of the night on the dew : the reflection of the moonbeams in the dewdrops.

28. where thou fliest I shall not follow : in point of fact both the nightingale and the swallow migrate to North Africa for the winter.

48. Daulis : this town was some ten miles north of the Gulf of Corinth, and nowhere near the Thracian Sea, which was the name given to the northern part of the Aegean.

52, 53. Explained by the note referred to above.

393 From the same.

Proserpine, or Persephone, was the wife of Pluto and Queen of the Dead. The poppy, the symbol of her mother Ceres, is in its properties sacred to her, and any churchyard is her garden. 3. Dead winds' and spent waves' riot, etc. :

i.e. a mere tumult of the air and of the water which comes to nothing, and is based on no fact, nor even on anything so definite as a dream.

21, 22. Those who steer for the busy world run all adrift and know not what they are making for.

31. this : i.e. the poppy-head, whence is extracted opium.

59. the earth her mother : Ceres, or Demeter, mother of Proserpine, was the goddess of corn and the fruits of the earth.

72. strays : ‘straggling threads of water.'

394 From Poems and Ballads, Second Series (1878).

1. coign : corner,' now usually found only in the Shakespearian phrase "coign of ’vantage.'

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