WMR, DGR as Designer and Writer, 244.◦
Baum, House of Life, 193.
Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the Poems (1870) First Edition Text.
The sonnet is unimpressive. Nonetheless, its
temporal structure underscores the double-focus that organizes so much of
the material in The House
of Life. The sense of the poem would be markedly
affected if we knew it had been written at any early date. In that
case the opening words of the octave and the sestet would function as
part of a rhetoric of repetition, doubling the melancholic reflection.
The terminus ad quem for the poem's composition is
September 1870, when it was added to the
A2 Proofs for the
coming 1870 volume. Whether the
sonnet was written at that time, or whether
it was an earlier, recovered work is uncertain, nor does the printer's copy manuscript in the
Troxell Collection clarify the matter.
Two other manuscript copies survive: an early draft in the Library of Congress and the corrected copy in the Fitzwilliam composite “House of Life” sequence. The poem is titled “Tree and Stream” in the Library of Congress manuscript.
The poem was first printed in the
A Proofs, where it is titled “Joy Delayed”. That
was corrected to the received title in the proof process of 1869-1870,
when two other small substantive changes were also made. The sonnet's
text does not change after 1870.
First printed in September 1869 as part of the
A2 Proofs, the sonnet remained
in all proof stages and was published in the 1870 Poems and thereafter. It is
The House of Life Sonnet
XXXVIII in the 1870 volume, and Sonnet
LXXII in 1881.
The sestet distinctly recalls Keats's “To Autumn”.
The poem stands open to an autobiographical reading,
particularly if at the fictive level it is read as addressed
by the poet to the Innominata. In that event it would intimate a regret for
the “lost hours” of their lives unspent together.