Manuscripts in the Duke University Library, 14-16, 56-65
◦ Burnett, The Ashley Catalogue, I. 319
◦ McGann, The Game that Must be Lost, 63-64
◦ WMR, “Some Scraps of Verse and Prose”, 1898), 491-492
◦ Winwar, “Dante Gabriel's or William Michael's?” 1933, 312-315
This collection contains 5 texts and images, including:
Tinker Collection fair copy
According to WMR ( 1911, pages 673-674 ), this is one of a group of sonnets that DGR and his brother wrote to rhymes set by each other. For an example of WMR's efforts see “Concentred Companionship”. The brothers played this verse game with each other between 1847-1849, and principally in 1848. The rule was that the sonnet should be written quickly, in five to ten minutes. The importance of this matter emerges when it is weighed in relation to the later history of this work (see below).
This particular work gains further interest because one of its two surviving manuscript texts is also one of the three surviving manuscripts from the book of poems DGR placed in his wife's grave in 1862. One of these is a manuscript of this poem, the copy in the Ashley Library (B3870); another is the copy in the Houghton Library of the sonnet “Praise and Prayer”. The third is the copy (in four leaves) of “Wellington's Funeral”, now in the Beinecke Library, (Yale University).
These bibliographical facts lend great significance to the poem, especially since its subject anticipates the central conflict of The House of Life: between the claims of two loves. The early date of the poem is important because it reinforces the idea of fatality that grows increasingly important in DGR's work. Reading the sonnet with a self-conscious understanding of its history—which is what DGR would have done in 1862 (when he put it in the book he buried with his wife) and again in 1869 (when he exhumed the book for poems he wanted to publish in his 1870 Poems)—one can scarcely not be struck by its premonitory qualities. So the placement of the sonnet in the manuscript volume DGR interred with his wife's body amounts to a revisionary interpretation of the sonnet as a prophetic forecast of certain key events in his life.
The same thing must be said of two other of these early bouts rimés sonnets. See the other manuscript sonnet that comes from the buried volume, “Praise and Prayer”, and “The Heart of the Night”, whose early date—and consequent significance—has not previously been understood.
Textual History: Composition
The sonnet was written in 1848, according to WMR, and the earliest manuscript, in the Duke Library, is titled “One with Two Shadows”. On the later Ashley Library manuscript, the received title is clearly an addition: it could have been added in 1862, but its more likely date is 1869, when DGR had the volume of poems exhumed from his wife's grave. The other surviving manuscript, in the Tinker collection at Yale, is a fair copy with the received title.
First printed in 1898 by WMR from one of the two later manuscripts (see bibliography below, WMR, “Some Scraps of Verse and Prose” ). Paull Baum published the earlier text of the sonnet in 1931 (see Baum, Manuscripts in the Duke University Library, 14-15, 57-58 ).
Although composed before DGR had ever met either Elizabeth Siddal or Jane Morris, the sonnet appears to intersect with both women and with DGR's relations to them. As such, the sonnet gathers a powerful sense of the uncanny about itself.