Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the Sonnets
of Three Centuries text.
The sonnet eulogizes Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618), the extraordinary
explorer, politician, and poet who was
a favorite of Queen Elizabeth. After her death in 1603, the new king James had Raleigh imprisoned in
the Tower on suspicion of treason. There he wrote his History
of the World, published in 1614 in five volumes. The history only
carried forward to approximately 130 b.c.
The date of the sonnet's composition is not known. WMR in his bibliography of 1906 stated that it
was composed “Before Autumn 1881”. I judge that it was probably written between
January and May 1881, and perhaps in February-March, when DGR was quite involved in discussions with
Caine about his own contributions to Caine's volume of sonnets.
The only known autograph manuscripts are the two copies in the library of the Delaware Art Museum,
the pencil draft and the
corrected copy in ink. A
fair copy made by
John Schott is also preserved in that library.
First printed in February 1882 in T. Hall Caine's edition of
of Three Centuries (1882)
DGR did not reprint it in either of the the 1881 volumes. WMR collected it in his first
1886 edition and
kept it in
the collected editions that followed.