William Morris.

The poems of William Morris online

. (page 1 of 24)
Online LibraryWilliam MorrisThe poems of William Morris → online text (page 1 of 24)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


THE- POEMS -OF





SELECTED&EDITED



THS TOSMS

of
WILLIAM



SELECTED AND EDITED
BY

COLJTGLL




NEW YORK

T. C<f(pWELL & CO-
PUBLISHERS






Copyright, 1904
by Thomas Y. Crowe/I W Co.



CONTENTS.

PAGE

BIBLIOGRAPHY xi

INTRODUCTION xv

EARLY ROMANTIC POEMS 1

The Defence of Guenevere 3

King Arthur's Tomb 12

Sir Peter Harpdon's End 24

Rapunzel 48

Concerning Geffray Teste Noire 59

Old Love 65

Shameful Death 67

The Eve of Crecy 69

The Gilliflower of Gold 70

The Judgment of God 72

The Haystack in the Floods 74

Riding Together 79

Winter Weather 80

The Blue Closet 83

Praise of my Lady 85

Summer Dawn 88

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF JASON (Selection of Songs) . 89

A Garden by the Sea 91

" O surely, now the Fisherman " 92

" Alas 1 for Saturn's Days of Gold " . . . .92
vii



2037813



viii CONTENTS.

PAGE

O Death, that maketh Life so Sweet " . .95

The Argonauts and the Sirens 96

To Geoffrey Chaucer 102

THE EARTHLY PARADISE (Selections) .... 103

An Apology 105

The Author to the Reader 106

L'Envoi 107

The Months 110

Song from The Love of Alcestis 117

Song from Cupid and Psyche 118

Song from The Hill of Venus 119

Song from The Man who never Laughed Again . 120
Atalanta's Race . . . . , . . .121

Ogier the Dane 140

The Fostering of Aslaug ...... 178

SIGURD THE VOLSUXG (Selections) 217

Regin 219

Brynhild . . . . . ., . . .257

Gudrun 275

POEMS BY THE WAY. SOCIALISTIC, ROMANTIC, AND

ICELANDIC 287

From the Upland to the Sea 289

Hope Dieth : Love Liveth 290

The Hall and the Wood 291

Goldilocks and Goldilocks . . . . . .296

The Son's Sorrow 319

Gunnar's Howe above the House at Lithend . . 321

The Folk-mote by the River 322

The Burghers' Battle . . . . . . .329

The Voice of Toil . 331



CONTENTS.

PAGE

The Day is Coining 332

The Message of the March Wind . . . .335

Drawing near the Light 338

Mine and Thine 338

A Death Song . - 339

Down among the Dead Men 340

Songs from Love is Enough 341

Verses for a Bed Hanging 343

Lines from Title Pages 344

" Masters in this Hall " 345

NOTES 349

INDEX OF TITLES 359



BIBLIOGRAPHY.

I. POEMS FIRST PUBLISHED SEPARATELY.



1858. Sir Galahad, a Christmas Mystery. The Defence of
Guenevere and Other Poems.

1867. The Life and Death of Jason.

1868. The Earthly Paradise.

1870. Certain Songs from the Elder Edda: In " Volsunga
Saga " : Translated from the Icelandic. (In collabo-
ration with Eirikr Magniisson.)

1873. Love is Enough, or the Freeing of Pharamond: A
Morality.

1876. The Two Sides of the River, Hapless Love, and the First

Foray of Aristomenes. (Not for sale.) (See also
under II, Poems First Published in Periodicals.) The
JEneids of Virgil : Done into English verse.

1877. The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the

Niblungs.

1878. Wake, London Lads: Air, "The Hardy Norseman's

Home of Yore." (Pamphlet for distribution at an
Exeter Hall meeting on January 16, 1878.)

1885. The Day is Coming: Chants for Socialists: No. 1.
(Pamphlet.) Down among the Dead Men : Chants
for Socialists : No. 7. (In pamphlet with six other
chants.) (See II, Poems First Published in Periodi-
cals.)

1887. Alfred Linnell : Killed in Trafalgar Square, November
20, 1887: A Death Song. (Pamphlet with music.)
The Odyssey of Homer : Done into English verse.

1889. A Tale of the House of the Wolfings and All the Kindreds

of the Mark : Written in prose and in verse.

1890. (" The Roots of the Mountains " contains a number of

songs.)

1891. Poems by the Way. (" The Glittering Plain " contains

a number of songs.)

1895. The Tale of Beowulf : Done out of the Old English

tongue. (In collaboration with A. J. Wyatt, M.A.)

1896. Poetical Works. Cheaper issue in ten volumes.

1897. (" The Sundering Flood " contains a number of songs.)

xi



xii BIBLIOGRAPHY.



H. POEMS FIRST PUBLISHED IN
PERIODICALS.

(Most of these were subsequently collected in "Poems by the Way.")

1856. Various contributions to the Oxford and Cambridge
Magazine : " Winter Weather," January ; " Riding
Together," May; " Hands," July ; "The Chapel in
Lyoness," September; "Pray but One Prayer for us,"
etc., October.

1860. Masters in this Hall. Twelve quatrains in "Ancient
Christmas Carols," by Edmund Sedding.

1868. The God of the Poor: Fortnightly Review, August,

1868. The Two Sides of the River: Fortnightly
Review, October, 1868.

1869. On the Edge of the Wilderness : Fortnightly Review,

April, 1869. Hapless Love : Good Words, April, 1869.
1871. The Seasons : Four stanzas : The Academy, February,

1871. (This poem appears in " Poems by the Way,"

with a new stanza in place of that on " Winter.") The

Dark Wood : Fortnightly Review, February, 1871.
1876. The First Foray of Aristomenes : Athenaeum, May 13,

1876.
1879. The Legend of the Briar Rose. Quatrains on the Four

Pictures, by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, R. A. Black-

burne's Grosvenor Notes, 1879.

1884. Three Seekers: To-day, January, 1884. Meeting in

Winter: English Illustrated Magazine, March, 1884.
The Voice of Toil : Chants for Socialists : No. 2,
Justice, April 5, 1884. All for the Cause : Chants for
Socialists : No. 3, Justice, April 19, 1884. No Master :
Chants for Socialists : No. 4, Justice, June 7, 1884.

1885. The March of the Workers: Chants for Socialists:

No. 5, Commonweal, February, 1885. The Message
of the March Wind : Chants for Socialists : No. 6,
Commonweal, March, 1885. (This also forms Book I
of "The Pilgrims of Hope.") Socialists at Play:
Prologue spoken at the entertainment of the Socialist
League, June 11, 1885 : Commonweal, July, 1885.
The Pilgrims of Hope : A poem in thirteen books :
Commonweal, March, April, May, June, August, Sep-
tember, and November, 1885, and January, March,
April, May 8, June 5, and July 3, 1886.

1888. The Burgher's Battle : Athemeum, June 16, 1888.

1890. The Hall and the Wood : English Illustrated Magazine,
February, 1890. The Day of Days : Time, November,
1890.



BIBLIOGRAPHY. xiii

1892. May Day : Justice, April 30, 1892.

1893. The Ordination of Knighthood: Translation in verse

of "L'Orderre de Chevalerie" in "The Order of
Chivalry."

1894. May Day, 1894 : Justice, May 5, 1894.



in. SOME APPRECIATIONS AND CRITICISMS.

1858. Athenaeum, April 3, 1858. (Defence of Guenevere.)
Spectator, February 27, 1858. (Defence of Guene-
vere.)

1867. Athenaeum, June 15, 1867. (Life and Death of Jason.)

A. C. Swinburne in Fortnightly Review, July, 1867.
(Life and Death of Jason.) Prof. C. E. Norton in
Nation, August 22, 1867. (Life and Death of Jason.)
Henry James in North American Review, Vol. CV,
p. 688. (Life and Death of Jason.) Spectator, June 15,
1867. (Life and Death of Jason.)

1868. Athenaeum, May 30, 1868. (The Earthly Paradise.)

Saturday Review, May 30, 1868. (The Earthly Para-
dise.) Westminster Review, 1868, p. 300. Spectator,
June 20, 1868. (The Earthly Paradise.)

1869. Blackwood's Magazine, July, 1869. Temple Bar, Au-

gust, 1869.

1870. Quarterly Review, January, 1870.

1871. Edinburgh Review, January, 1871. (The Earthly Para-

dise.) New Monthly Magazine, September, 1871.
" Our Living Poets." By H. Buxton Forman. XFV,
William Morris.

1872. Quarterly Review, January, 1872. (The Earthly Para-

dise.) Athenaeum, November 23, 1872. (Love is
Enough.)

1873. Spectator, January 11, 1873. (Love is Enough.)

1874. Henry G. Hewlett in Contemporary Review, December,

1875. H. Nettleship in Academy, November 13, 1875.

1876. R. H. Stoddard in Appleton's Journal, 1876, p. 673.

1877. Henry G. Hewlett in Eraser's Magazine, July, 1877.

(Sigurd the Volsung.) Prof. Henry Morley in Nine-
teenth Century, November, 1877. (Sigurd the Vol-
sung.)
1882. Andrew Lang in Contemporary Review, August, 1882.

1887. E. D. A. Morshead in Academy, April 30, 1887. (Odys-

sey of Homer.)

1888. Prof. E. Dowden in " Transcripts and Studies."

1889. W. H. Pater in "Appreciations." Charles Elton in

Academy, February 9, 1889. (House of the Wolfings.)



xiv BIBLIOGRAPHY.

Henry G. Hewlett in Nineteenth Century, August,
1889. (House of the Wolfings.) Athenaeum, Sep-
tember 14, 1889. (House of the Wolfings.) Saturday
Review, Vol. LXVII, p. 101. (House of the Wolfings.)

1891. M. Hewlett in National Review, August, 1891. Francis

Watts Lee in "William Morris: Poet, Artist, Socialist."
A selection from his writings, together with a sketch
of the man. New York.

1892. Athenaeum, March 12, 1892. (Poems by the Way.)

Louise C. Moulton in Arena, June, 1892.

1894. Prof. George Saintsbury in the Critic, August 18, 1894.

1895. Theodore Watts-Dunton in Athenaeum, August 10, 1895.

(Beowulf.) Prof. G. Saintsbury in " Corrected Im-
pressions," XIX and XX, William Morris.

1896. Andrew Lang in Longman's Magazine, October, 1896.

Joseph Pennell in Daily Chronicle, October 5, 1896.
Edmund Gosse in St. James' Gazette, October 5, 1896.
Richard le Gallienne in The Star, October 7, 1896.
Theodore Watts-Dunton in the Athenaeum, October 10,
1896. Arthur Symons in the Saturday Review, Octo-
ber 10, 1896. Walter Crane in Progressive Review,
November, 1896. Bookman, September, 1896. Spec-
tator, October 10, 1896.

1897. Edinburgh Review, January, 1897. D. F. Hannigan in

Westminster Review, February, 1897. Aylmer Val-
lance, " Morris, his Art, his Writings, and 'his Public
Life." Nowell Smith in Fortnightly Review, Decem-
ber, 1897.

1898. Stephen Gwynn in Macmillan's Magazine, June, 1898.

1899. The Life of William Morris, by J. W. Mackail, 2 Vols.

Quarterly Review, October, 1899.

1900. Edinburgh Review, April, 1900.

1901. Irene Sargent, " William Morris : Some Thoughts upon

his Life, Work, and Influence."



INTRODUCTION.
WILLIAM MOERIS (1834-1896).

THE MAN.

"You would think him one of the finest little fellows
alive, with a touch of the incoherent, but a real man,"
wrote Dante Gabriel Eossetti to William Allingham, of
his new follower and friend, William Morris. This char-
acterization of the enthusiastic young poet seems to con-
tain a subtle perception of the general qualities which
underlay the whole life of the great craftsman and artist ;
he was a dreamer, ever, but always "a real man."

William Morris was born at Elm House, Clay Hill,
Walthamstow, on the 24th of March, 1834. His father,
William Morris, was a prosperous banker of Welsh
descent ; his mother, Emma Shelton, came of a sturdy
old Worcestershire family of the middle class. Morris
himself was the third of nine children and the eldest
son. He was delicate in his early years, and, perhaps
because of this, was a precocious book-worm, reading the
Waverley novels at the age of four. From the very
beginning he was noticed to possess a remarkable mem-
ory and power of observation.

When the lad was six years old, his family moved to
Woodford Hall, which stood in a small park on the edge
of Epping Forest. He lived an out-of-door life here,
growing into a strong, healthy boy, and learning to love
the birds and beasts of the forest, as well as the forest
itself a "great wood of hornbeams." He was born
with a love for all things mediaeval ; and this love was
fed by some of the customs of old England that were
still observed in his father's house, Twelfth Night rev-
els, a certain independence of life begot by the self-
reliance of a large estate that kills its own meat and
brews its own beer, and the old-fashioned relation between
master and dependents. A suit of armour, in which he
dressed himself for pony-riding, was one of his toys.



xvi INTRODUCTION.

His love for architecture became evident at this early
age ; a visit to Canterbury Cathedral, when he was only
eight years old, made a lasting impression. His mem-
ory for details of landscape and of architecture was
wonderful.

The boy was sent to a small preparatory school at
Walthamstow, kept by the Misses Arundale, when he
was nine years old, and was kept in this school till the
death of his father in 1847. The next four years he
spent at Marlborough College, near Savernake Forest.
The school system here was new, half-formed, and not at
all rigid. The boy did nearly what he pleased, reading
archaeology and ecclesiastical architecture, and, although
he was "strong and thickset," preferring long walks
over the downs and exploration of old barrows, to
cricket and foot-ball. A year with a private tutor inter-
vened between Marlborough and the University of Ox-
ford. Already Morris was a " dreamer of dreams " ; he
was forever making stories in his mind about people and
places that were familiar to him; not ordinary stories,
but dream stories, endeavouring to " make it something
different from what it was."

In the years 1853-1855, Morris lived at Oxford as an
undergraduate in Exeter College. Here, in the first two
or three days of residence, he met Edward Burne-Jones,
who was thenceforth his lifelong friend and comrade.
The two young men were both designed for Holy Orders.
Morris was, at this period, a complete aristocrat and high
churchman. He conceived a very great contempt for the
educational system and the intellectual life of Oxford,
which had just been roused from its mediaeval slumber by
the Tractarian movement, and was lying open to the inva-
sion of modern ideas. He seems to have lived his own life
here quite as thoroughly and as satisfactorily as he had
at Marlborough, but here he was not alone. He read
aloud to Burne-Jones much old theology, the new gos-
pel of Euskin, the rich new poetry of Tennyson. He
adopted The Heir of Reddyffe as his pattern of manhood;
and in Thorpe's Northern Mythology he got the first
glimpse of that great store of Teutonic legend which be-
came, in later years, the dominant force in his life. A
vacation journey to North France and Belgium, in 1854,
gave him a new point of contact with the Middle Ages, in



INTRODUCTION. xvii

a personal familiarity with the landscape and architecture
of a region in which the name of every village recalls a page
of Froissart or some chronicle of the older, heroic days.
But, perhaps, of all the influences recorded during the Ox-
ford days there is none more important than that of " the
Brotherhood," which included, besides Morris and Jones,
Fulford, Faulkner, Canon Dixon, Cormell Price, and Harry
MacDonald. These men, from a similarity of tastes and
aims, gradually drew together, with Godfrey Lushington
of Balliol, and Vernon Lushington and Wilfred Heeley of
Trinity College, Cambridge, to accomplish certain definite
purposes. But several of them formed a little coterie about
Morris during most of the college days ; out of their talk
of high things came high resolves, and among them the
poet found his first appreciation.

There is something dramatic in Canon Dixon' s account
of the discovery of Morris's poetic talent, an unsuspected
quality in his vigorous personality. Dixon and Price
went into his room one evening and were greeted by
Burne-Jones with the exciting exclamation that "Topsy "
so called because of "his mass of dark, curly hair
and generally unkempt appearance " was a great poet.
They listened, then, to the reading of his first poem, TJie
Willow and the Red Cliff, which was destroyed afterward,
and never published. Dixon records that the poem was
"perfectly original and truly striking and beautiful."
It was as if a prospector, looking for silver or copper, or
almost any kind of metal, were to come at once upon a
vein of virgin gold. " If this is poetry, it is very easy
to write," said Morris. That was in 1855. Thereafter
the writing of poems was his frequent pleasure ; it was
never his sole, nor, except for short periods, his chief
occupation.

During the months that followed this discovery, he
was influenced to some extent by Mrs. Browning, whose
poetry at that time enjoyed its highest popularity. Her
influence was remarked by his friends in several poems
which he destroyed unpublished, and in a few which
have survived, though not printed in any collection of
his writings. At the same time, also, he discovered that
he could write prose, and produced several prose ro-
mances which were afterward printed in The Oxford and
Cambridge Magazine.



xviii INTRODUCTION.

This periodical was the result of a resolve of the
Brotherhood "to found and conduct a Magazine of a
really high order." The Germ had lately run its short
course and stopped publication, but the influence of the
Pre-Raphaelites had laid hold of the enthusiastic mem-
bers of Morris's coterie, and it produced positive results
in their work. The first number of the magazine ap-
peared, January 1, 1856, and eleven monthly numbers
followed, completing the year, before issue was sus-
pended. Contributions were made by Bernard Cracroft
and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, outside the Brotherhood.
Morris's contributions were the most valuable, including
The Hollow Land, and several other prose romances, and
Winter Weather, Hands, and two or three more of the
finest poems of his early inspiration.

Meanwhile, in 1855, Morris went, during the long
vacation, on a walking tour in France with Burne-Jones
and Fulford, and upon this journey Morris and Burne-
Jones definitely decided to withdraw from their designs
upon the clerical life, and to be artists, the one an archi-
tect, the other a painter. Morris apprenticed himself to
Mr. Street, an architect in Oxford, on January 21, 1856.
About this time, he added to his methods of recreation,
wood-carving, clay-modelling, and illuminating, in all of
which he seems to have been self-taught, following old
models.

During this winter, Burne-Jones met Dante Gabriel
Rossetti, at the Working Men's College in great Ormond
Street, and soon introduced him to Morris. The tremen-
dous personal magnetism of Rossetti quickly influenced
both the young men who had already been enthusiastic
worshippers of his genius. A close friendship sprang
up. Both came to London and became pupils of the Pre-
Raphaelite school, working under the personal direction
of Rossetti. Morris gained, also, at this time, the friend-
ship of Robert Browning, whose influence upon his early
poetry is easily discernible, but the powerful personality
of Rossetti dominated his life completely for the time
being, disturbing his equanimity, withdrawing him from
the study of architecture, and setting him, along with
Burne-Jones, to learn the art of painting. He had a
wdhderful eye for colour, but could never draw the human
figure successfully ; and although he worked hard for a



INTRODUCTION. xix

year under the master's eye, lie was not in entire har-
mony with himself during that time.

But this unsettled period was a time of beginnings.
Besides the various forms of decoration at which he had
already tried his hand, he was led, almost by chance, it

3. He



seemed, into the designing of furniture. He took un-
furnished rooms in Red Lion Square. The ugly, frail,
modern furniture in the shops excited his disdain, and
he started, with characteristic self-confidence, to design
for himself a few pieces which should be both useful
and decorative. These were built and ornamented by
Morris and his friends. A curious incident of this period
was the attempted decoration of the walls and ceiling of
the library of the Oxford Union, which was undertaken
by Morris, Burne-Jones, and Rossetti, Arthur Hughes,
Spencer Stanhope, Val Prinsep, and Hungerford Pollen.
None of them knew anything about fresco-painting, and
their enthusiasm was balked by their ignorance of some
of the first principles of the art ; but the eager months
spent at Oxford restored Morris to his usual equability
of mind.

He spent the autumn of 1857 and the following winter
in the university town, working variously. He added the
designing of stained glass and embroidery to his list of
crafts, and made the acquaintance of Swinburne who was
at Balliol. In the following March he published his first
volume of poems, TJie Defence of Guenevere. It was
hailed with delight by his friends, and severely criticised
by the reviews ; it never gained much popularity, in spite
of its splendid dramatic qualities and the genuineness of
its medieevalism. He paid little attention to the criticism
and went serenely about his own business, undisturbed
by what people said of his work. He worked primarily
for his own approval, always. Yet serenity could hardly
be said to be a dominant quality of his temper. He was
given to violent and picturesque outbursts of temper ; and
Burne-Jones writes of him, at this time, alarmed because,
having fallen in love, he is so mild that in six months he
has kicked out only one door panel.

While working on the Union Library at Oxford, Morris
and Kossetti met Miss .Jane Burden, a daughter of Mr.
Robert Burden of Holywell Street. They were first at-
tracted by the peculiar beauty of her face, familiar in sev-



XX INTRODUCTION.

eral of Eossetti's paintings, and persuaded her to sit
as their model, but with Morris the attraction was much
deeper, and he was married to her on April 26, 1859. The
removal of Morris from the Bohemian life of the circle was
the end of the active, united work of the Brotherhood.

In 1860, Morris built for himself Red House, near
Upton, in Kent. His contempt for modern designs was
a serious bar to the work of procuring furniture for his
home, and led to the establishment of the firm of Morris
& Co., in April, 1861. Rossetti and Peter Paul Mar-
shall, designers, and Morris, Burne-Jones, Ford Madox
Brown, Webb, and Faulkner, "craftsmen," were the
members of the firm, and in the beginning did most of
the work themselves. Besides the production of furni-
ture for Red House, church decoration was their main
employment. They occupied the old rooms at Red Lion
Square, and advertised themselves as " Fine Art Work-
men in Painting, Carving, Furniture and the Metals."

At Red House, Morris lived for four happy years.
Two children were born here, Jane Alice in 1861, and
May in 1862. During these years, he projected a cycle of
poems upon the Trojan War, and wrote a great part of it,
but it was never finished, and none of the single poems
were published. The business of the firm increased.
Morris furnished most of the capital and was, from the
start, the most active of the partners. In 1865, he took
a house in Queen Square, Bloomsbury, and moved thither
both his family and his business.

A great deal of his time was occupied by the managing
of the business, and by the actual work of the craftsman,
but the brain of Morris, as well as his body, was indefati-
gable, and the intervals of toil were occupied by the
composition of The Earthly Paradise. Ten years before,
he had read Chaucer, and forthwith had become a rever-
ent admirer of the great master of narrative poetry.
Now he designed a long series of narrative poems, bound
together by a prologue, as in TJie Canterbury Tales. He
openly called Chaucer his master, but one can find little
imitation in The Earthly Paradise. A very elaborate
edition was designed, to be illustrated with a great num-
ber of wood-cuts by Burne-Jones, but the difficulties in
the way of such a publication were, at that time, insur-
mountable, and it had to be given up. Morris worked



INTRODUCTION. xxi

rapidly at the writing of the different tales that composed
the series. The first volume was published by Ellis, in
1868, and the remaining parts in the year that followed.
The Life and Death of Jason was originally designed to
take a place in the series, but outgrew the plan, and was
published by itself, earlier, gaining instant popularity
and the applause of the critics, which stimulated Morris
to the completion of The Earthly Paradise, and prepared
a favourable reception for it.

In 1869, Morris began the study of Icelandic with
Magnusson. Kossetti's influence had been waning for
some time, and disappeared from his artistic life, per-
haps with the rise of this vigorous Northern influence.
With Magnusson, Morris published translations of the
Grettis Saga, and several other Icelandic stories in the
following months, notably a prose version of the Volsunga
Saga, in 1870. After finishing The Earthly Paradise, he
went to work with renewed vigour at the illumination of
manuscripts, introducing new and original methods into
this craft, in which he took peculiar delight.

In 1871, he bought Kelmscott Manor, on the Thames,
thirty miles above Oxford. In the same year he made
his first journey to Iceland, riding over a great part of
the island, visiting the scenes of the historical sagas,
and increasing at every step his enthusiastic veneration
for this bleak land whose half-forgotten literature had



Online LibraryWilliam MorrisThe poems of William Morris → online text (page 1 of 24)