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Siddal and Morris poems
By total chance I came upon two poems that are almost identical, one by Elizabeth Siddal and the other by William Morris. Does anybody know why? I am almost sure they knew each other.
by Elizabeth Siddal
Laden autumn, here I stand
With my sheaves in either hand;
Speak the word that sets me free,
Naught but rest seems good to me.
by William Morris
Laden Autumn here I stand
Worn of heart, and weak of hand:
Nought but rest seems good to me,
Speak the word that sets me free.
I did find this poem attributed to both after some searching. However, the attribution to Elizabeth Siddal is questionable because this particular site also claimed the model in a painting of Rossetti's was Elizabeth Siddal, when in fact it was Alexa Wilding. There were other such glaring errors on that site. I caught the second verse of this poem attributed to Morris on another site. But since it seemed to be submitted from an unreliable source - then it is also open to question. I searched for as many William Morris poems as I could find - from reliable sites - there are many poems - he was also a poet and translator - but I did not find this one poem. If you get any more information, I'd be interested. And vice versa, I'll post if I find anything. C.
Jan Marsh's 1991 catalogue of the Elizabeth Siddal exhibition at the Ruskin Gallery, Sheffield reproduces the text of all of the poems by Siddal that are contained in the original manuscripts in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. These include a piece headed 'Untitled Fragment':
Autumn leaves are falling
About her new-made grave
Where the tall grass bends to listen
To the murmur of the wave.
This and another quatrain attributed to Siddal, (but without manuscript authority) were apparently printed in the limited edition book of 'Poems and Drawings of Elizabeth Siddal' by Roger C Lewis & Mark Samuels Lasner (1978, Wombat Press, Wolfville, Canada). I wonder if the garbled William Morris verse originally found its' way into the Elizabeth Siddal ouevre here. The fact that Jan Marsh neglected to reproduce the poem in own her collection of Siddal's works may indicate that she had doubts about the attribution. Neither does it appear in her 1989 biography 'The Legend of Elizabeth Siddal'.
The 'Autumn' verse was published by Morris in 1891 as part of his 'Poems by the Way', although I can find no dates for when the individual poems were written. Other 'verses for pictures' by Morris from this book relate to Burne-Jones's 'Briar Rose' series, which suggests that they were written several years after Elizabeth Siddal's death.
And Chiaroscuro is right - one should never trust everything that one reads on the internet.
Thanks, StB. Doesn't sound as if there is a definitive answer. Although.. we could circulate a rumor that Dante Rossetti wrote it. I'm sure someone on the net will pick up that infinitesimal grain, bundle it neatly in a sheaf, and publish it as fact. C.
It's possible that Siddal wrote down Morris' stanza for a picture that never got done as a reminder. Hence the confusion!
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