Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the Poems 1881 First Edition text.
The extreme artifice of the poem throws a decorative and
pictorial veil over the underlying romantic—indeed, Wordsworthian—
thematic structure. The work pivots around lines 13-14, which locate the
devotion of reciprocal blessings that are represented in the verse. As so
often in DGR's work, the implied temporality figured as the
poles of a then-now sequence is arrested and immobilized, as in a picture.
The signal opening word (“Peace”) transforms into the word
“still” (line 13), a conceptual rhyme that realizes the poem's
condition of stillness that is at once moral, psychic, and (ultimately)
textual. The poem is (literally) a prayer for peace that evolves into
an image of that prayer, or perhaps an icon of it.
According to WMR the poem was composed in
There is no evidence that confirms or disconfirms that dating, though it seems plausible. The
manuscript is a fair copy made in the summer of 1869, but it
could be a copy of an earlier text.
First printed as part of the pre-publication process
for the 1870 Poems,
in the Penkill Proofs, August 1869.
Those proofs have no special organization of the poetic units. At the next
proof stage, the so-called A Proofs
(Sept. 1869), this poem is placed in a loosely organized section under the heading
Sonnets and Songs,
Towards a Work to be Called The House of Life.
DGR experimented with the order of this section until, in the final proof stage
(realized at the beginning of March, 1870) this poem and ten others were grouped as
The House of Life's integral section of Songs. In the 1881 Poems. A New Edition, this
section is detached from The House of
Life and placed under the heading Lyrics, and two other
poems are added to the group.
The title is a recollection of Shakespeare,
“Sonnet 29” line 13.