Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Letter to Thomas Gordon Hake, 2 September 1871
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of Composition: 1871 September 2
Type of Manuscript: letter
Scribe: DGR

The full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.


2 September 1871
My dear Hake Hake (for ought we not to be dropping the Doctor-ial and Mister-ious* [not yet met with in Her Winning Ways] form of address?),
I have to thank you for two kind letters and a most capital instalment of H.W.W. which ends so suddenly just at the bottom of a page that the stab of disappointment on turning it made one feel how good the story was. Really and positively you ought to take this book in hand at once and get it out simultaneously with the parable volume. I think it very important you should do this, and should imagine your present publishers would undertake it without risk to you or nearly so. The impression of two such works together must be marked, much as the critics and public sulk habitually at versatility. I would at once take the book up again on returning to town, if you thought of bringing it out, and give you my detailed impressions as to changes which I think we are agreed would be necessary. Is Mr. Mackay the author of the article on Chaucer and Morris? It ranks M. justly with the most permanent poets, yet to listen to the writer, one hardly knows why, at so moderate a level does the analysis leave him. I think that critics do not sufficiently signalize, in writing about Morris, that with him the absence of dramatic concentration finds its substitute in a general intensity of pathetic treatment - not only (as one would think to read them) in a dreamy sympathy with men and nature. To prove this, his earliest volume, published some fourteen years ago, should be known, as showing clearly that the dramatic faculty is strong in him and so must be somewhere discoverable in all his writings.
In reading the “Blind Boy” yet again, mere trifles further occur to me. In verse 5 the expression “each other's sight” is perhaps doubtful, as one was blind, but being almost an idiom, is probably unobjectionable. In verse 18 I should prefer “foaming” to “foamy.” In verse 26 the word "shout" seems perhaps rather misleading. At first reading it suggested to me that voices of people in distress at sea might be reaching the speaker's ear! Perhaps however this merely belonged to the class of unlucky first impressions and does not deserve attention.
Thanks for all you so kindly say of my little poem last sent. I shall certainly adopt your suggested change “That beats to thy steps, O Time,” which is a decided improvement, as your view is quite just. A friend has suggested to me, since I last wrote you, that the closing word of the poem “still” was superfluous and rather ambiguous; and I propose probably to alter the five last lines thus: —
  • And what can our birthright be?
  • Oh never from thee to sever
  • *Thou Will that shall be and art,
or else
  • That wast and shall be and art,
  • And what can our birthright be?
  • Oh never from thee to sever
  • *Thou Will that shall be and art,
or else
  • That wast and shall be and art,—
only this seems perhaps like a personal God, which of course is not meant.
What do you think? I am afraid Lindley Murray would vote you right about “slain” used as a noun, but may it not conventionally pass muster?
The Madox Browns and Hüffer, as you probably know, went to Lynmouth, but have been back in London some weeks now. Brown is making a drawing to illustrate my verses about “Hurstcote” &c., which I have now called “Down Stream” (as the other title seemed dubious) and which are to appear in the Dark Blue as an appropriate outcome of Oxfordshire scenery and Oxford morals.
I'll copy another scrap opposite, which I think of augmenting.
Ever yours,

D. G. R.
P.S. I just remember you asked me about the drowning being true. It is mere moonshine.
  • Let no man ask you of anything
  • Not yearborn between Spring and Spring.
  • More of all worlds than he can know
  • Each day the single sun doth show:
  • A trustier gloss than you can give
  • From all wise scrolls demonstrative,
  • The sea doth sigh and the wind sing.
  • Let no lord awe you on any height
  • Of earthly kingship's mouldering might.
  • 10The dust his heel holds meet for your brow
  • Hath all of it been what both are now;
  • And he and you may plague together
  • A beggar's eyes in some dusty weather
  • When none that is now knows sound or sight.
  • Let no priest tell you of any home
  • Unseen above the sky's blue dome.
  • To have played in childhood by the sea,
  • Or to have been young in Italy,
  • Or anywhere in the sun or rain
  • To have loved and been beloved again,
  • Is nearer Heaven than he can come.
Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: dgr.ltr.0566.rad.xml