Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the DGR's fair copy manuscript.
The only manuscript witness for this poem is the one DGR copied into his
letter to WMR of 3 September 1850. DGR introduces it with a cryptic question
— “Can you explain the following?” —
that pretty well indexes the strange little set of verses, which DGR left
untitled. The pair of titles with the contemporary printed texts represent
elliptical interpretations of the poem.
The poem was presumably written at the time DGR sent it to his brother.
The poem was first printed after DGR's death in The Musical Review under the title “A Symbol” (27 January 1883).
WMR then printed it again from the manuscript letter in his edition of 1886
under the title “The Mirror”, and collected it
thereafter through his 1911 edition of DGR's works. WMR's text varies
slightly from the text in the manuscript letter but we have no indication
that the changes are DGR's.