Wellington's Funeral

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1852
Rhyme: a2b4b4b4a2
Meter: iambic
Genre: elegy


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the The first edition of the 1881 Poems. A New Edition.

Scholarly Commentary


Wellington died on 14 September 1852 and his funeral two months later turned into a monumental national event. The most famous of the poetical tributes is Tennyson's “Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington”, but DGR's briefer verse tribute—the draft manuscript is dated 18 November 1852— yields nothing in point of jingoist fervour to the ponderous encomium fashioned by the poet laureate. The reference to Napoleon II and the coup d'etat of December 1851 underscores the political currency that DGR (in contrast to Tennyson) gives to his verses. DGR's poem pivots on the contrasting legacies of Wellington and Napoleon I.

Textual History: Composition

Three manuscripts of the poem survive. The earliest is the draft which is housed in the library of the Delaware Art Museum. Of the two later copies, one (the earlier) is in the Beinecke Library, Yale University, the other is at the Lilly Library, University of Indiana. The Yale manuscript, which is crossed through by DGR, has a pair of notes by WMR: one states that it “is one of the various MSS. by my Brother which he buried in 1862 in the coffin of his wife, and which were recovered thence in 1869”; the other that “the writing is probably contemporaneous with the date when the poem was composed, toward the end of 1852”. WMR found the manuscript among DGR's papers in April 1882 shortly after DGR's death. The manuscript exhibits the deterioration at the top that is typical of the manuscripts that have survived from the exhumed volume.

The Lilly Library manuscript is a later fair copy—almost certainly made in 1869 from the exhumed manuscript. It introduces revisions at the title and lines 62 and 72 that bring the poem into its received textual state.

Printing History

DGR first printed the poem in his 1881 volume Poems. A New Edition and collected thereafter.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 3-1852.raw.xml