DGR wrote this poem during his
sojourn in 1873 at Kelmscott, where he went to regain his health after the crisis of 1872. Notable is the poem's imaginative
character (in contrast to the concretely observed detail of the sonnet “Winter”, which he wrote many months later and then made a companion piece to this sonnet). Everything represented here is being surmised, and the
final line makes the source of DGR's imaginative springtime explicit: DGR was back at Kelmscott with Jane Morris.
In its 1874 publication with “Winter”, the sonnet acquires a
slightly different inflection of meaning. It was written many months before the latter, but in its pairing it is placed second, not first.
The poem was written shortly before 14 May, when DGR enclosed a copy in a letter to Ford Madox Brown.
Four integral manuscripts survive: two fair copies, both at Princeton, one in a
green bound volume,
the other is a volume of bound
miscellaneous poems; another fair copy that DGR sent to
William Bell Scott in a letter of 22 May 1873; and a corrected fair copy that was
printer's copy for the 1874 printing.
First published in the 30 May 1874 issue of The Athenaeum as the second of the two sonnets headed together “Thames Valley Sonnets”. DGR then republished it as a separate sonnet in the 1881 Ballads and Sonnets and it has been collected thereafter.