Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the Delaware Art Museum Manuscript.
DGR never published these two sonnets, either separately or together. WMR first published them as
distinct works, which in their initial composition they were. The first is the earlier, having been written in 1847; the
second was written in 1849 in Belgium when DGR was traveling with Holman Hunt. The first sonnet is
thus the earliest example we have of
one of DGR's most characteristic literary forms—the sonnet “for” a
picture. WMR said that his brother wrote it about a painting he had
seen “in an auction-room” (see
WMR's note to the (1911) text of the first
sonnet, which he published by itself in 1886 under the title “For an Annunciation. Early German”.
WMR published the second as “Returning to
Brussells”—part of the sequence he constructed from
DGR letters and manuscripts under the title
“A Trip to Paris and Belgium”.
It is interesting that DGR did not include these sonnets among
the Sonnets for Pictures he published in
Germ in 1850, or indeed in any of the later groupings
similarly titled. But in 1881, when he was preparing his 1881 Poems.
A New Edition for the presss,
he considered including both sonnets as a joined pair—a striking idea given their
disjunctive compositional relation. As the paired
title “Filii Filia” suggests, the significance of the sonnets gets shifted and
augmented when they are joined together.
The only surviving manuscript of the sonnet pair is
in the Delaware Art Museum library; it dates from 1881. The second sonnet exists in an
early manuscript version in
DGR's letter to his brother of
18 October 1849.
The two sonnets have not been published as a unit until now, although
they were first printed in the first revise proof
of Signature T of the 1881
Poems. A New Edition. DGR removed them from the book in
the next revise proof stage.
The second sonnet was first published by WMR in its earlier (1849) variant form under the title
“Returning to Brussels” (see
Family Letters (II. 79)),
and collected thereafter. The first was also printed posthumously
(in 1886) by WMR under the title “For an
The painting referenced in the first sonnet has not been identified.
It seems clear that WMR knew what the picture was, given his 1886 title for
the first sonnet.
The sonnets clearly have a close relation to the sonnets on “Mary's