Originally written in the fall of 1849, when DGR was travelling with
Holman Hunt on the continent, the sonnet commemorates the infamous prison that
became the focus of the French Revolution. The sonnet is one of a group of works that address social and political issues
and that reflect commonplace English views of France from the period of the revolution to the end of DGR's life. See the commentaries for
“After the French Liberation of Italy”,
“The Can-Can at Valentino's”,
“Vox Ecclesiae, Vox Christi”,
and “On Refusal of Aid Between Nations”.
Three manuscripts survive: the text in DGR's letter to his brother of 8 October 1849; an
early fair copy with a correction,
and a fair copy that DGR made in 1881 for the work's
first publication in the Ballads and Sonnets volume.
First published in the first edition of the
1881 Ballads and
Sonnets and collected thereafter.