Poetical Scraps (from Note Books)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1848-1881


◦ Baum, ed., Manuscripts in the Duke University Library, 26-37.

◦ Burnett, The Ashley Library, 81-82

Scholarly Commentary


A distinctive feature of DGR's notebooks is the body of poetical “Scraps”, as WMR labelled them in his posthumous editions of his brother's work. The notebooks show that DGR's verse regularly grew out of some word or phrase or longer fragment of text that came to him at odd moments. The physical appearance of these scraps often shows as well that DGR was using the notebooks to try out variant phrasings for poetical works that must already have existed in some preliminary form. Many scraps survive that begin or end at what is clearly mid-line, as is apparent when the passages are collated with some received complete text. The significance of such irregular fragments is uncertain.

Many prose and verse fragments also survive that are not part of any known DGR work, perhaps indicating lost or discarded works by DGR. Some of the most interesting entries are DGR's lists of poetical names, poetical words, and rhyming words—for example, at the beginning of the notebook draft texts for “God's Graal”.

These materials are various and widely scattered in the Archive's manuscripts. They can also be located by searching Manuscripts under the term “poeticscraps”.

Printing History

WMR printed much of this material in his posthumous editions under different headings, but principally in the section he headed “Versicles and Fragments”. In the first of these editions, the 1886 edition, they come in toward the end of volume I as section “VI”. WMR kept this section heading through the 1911 edition but much augmented its contents in the intervening years. In addition, however, he added several brief sections for fragmentary materials—he called them “Scraps: Essays written in the interval of lock-jaw &c.”; “Sentences and Notes”; “Scraps: The Press-gang &c.”; “Scraps: There are certain passionate phases &c.”; and “Scraps: Round Tower at Jhansi &c.”;.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1