Marsh, DGR: Painter and Poet, 485-487
Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the The 1881 Ballads and Sonnets first edition text.
The poem is written on the occasion of the death of Oliver
(“Nolly”) Madox Brown, the brilliant son of Ford Madox
Brown. The young man of nineteen died of septicaemia on 5 November 1874 and
DGR wrote his memorial verses sometime before the funeral on 12 November.
The death of his son desolated Brown. In the Texas manuscript the sonnet is
titled “Dis Manibus”—an extremely
interesting choice since DGR would later use the same Latin allusion as a
title for his epigrammatic lines on the
death of Flaubert. The tag is a common funerary inscription, “to
the sacred spirits of the departed”.
Written around 10 November 1874, DGR must have revised the sonnet shortly
thereafter since the The Athenaeum text differs from the fair copy manuscript. The Texas manuscript is
a holograph fair copy that DGR may
well have given to his friend Brown as a gift. The other integral
manuscript, an untitled fair copy, is in the Bodleian.
First published in The Athenaeum (no. 2456, 21 November 1874, page 678). Published again in the 1881
Ballads and Sonnets and collected thereafter.