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Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Aurora Leigh and Other Poems. Edited, John Robert Glorney Bolton and Julia Bolton Holloway. Harmondsworth: Penguin Classics, 1995. xx + 517 pp. ISBN 0-14-043412-7.


Oh Bella Libertà! Le Poesie di Elizabeth Barrett Browning. A cura di Rita Severi e Julia Bolton Holloway. Firenze: Le Lettere, 2022. 290 pp.

How did I come, a medievalist, to edit a Victorian poem? I was at Berkeley, studying for the Ph.D., with three small children and no money and writing my dissertation on Dante, Langland and Chaucer, when my father in Rome asked me to help him. He had a book contract to write on Elizabeth Barrett Browning - whom he, educated at Oxford, hated. But when I researched her I found there had been no edition of her poetry since the beginning of the twentieth century, only sentimental shallow biographies of her. I fell in love with her strong poetry, and so set myself to learn the languages she knew, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Italian, Portuguese, and to read the books she read, especially Apuleius' Golded Ass. In so doing I discovered that Julian of Norwich, whom I was also editing, knew Hebrew. Years later, when I was in my Anglican convent, Christopher Ricks and I signed the contract with Penguin for Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh and Other Poems, I in full pre-Vatican II Anglican rig, and I included in the contract that the cover with Michelangelo's Aurora was non negotiable.


Aurora Leigh (hereafter referred to as AL), published in 1856, is a male epic and a woman's novel, written in nine books, echoing the nine books of the prophetic Cumaean Sibyl and the nine months of a woman's pregnancy. It quarries the Bible and the Classics, Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Virgil, Apuleius, Dante, Langland, Shakespeare, Milton and Byron, while it also uses contemporary women's writings, Madame de Staël (1776-1817), George Sand (1804-76) and Charlotte Brontë (1816-55), and discusses Brook Farm's communism (1841-6), Ireland's Great Famine (1846-7), and the working conditions of women and children. EBB read the Bible's scriptures in Hebrew, Chaldean and Greek, the other texts in their original Greek, Latin, Italian, French and English; yet she filled her learning with life. Across AL's pages we hear dialectic and reconciliation, the voices of women and men, of poor and rich, and in its epic similes genders are generally reversed. The poem contains remarkable ethical, religious and soical phrases:

                               There's not a crime
But takes it proper change out still in crime,
If once rung on the counter of this world;
Let sinners look to it.  (III.869-72)

                   Earth's crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God.  (VII.821-2)

I . . . beheld his heaven
As blue as Aaron's priestly robe appeared
To Aaron when he took it off to die.  (IX.252-5)

And blow all class-walls level as Jericho's.  (IX.932)

AL, besides containing libraries of books, is also a roman à clef, keyed to flesh-and-blood people, and is shot through with EBB's autobiography. Virginia Woolf ovserved that 'Aurora the fictitious seems to be throwing light upon Elizabeth the actual'. EBB's brother, Edward Barrett Moulton Barrett, the heir to the Cinnamon Hill slave plantation in Jamaica, had died by drowning (11 July 1840), which EBB felt was her fault, precipitating her tuberculosis to a crisis and deepening her opium dependency. AL's two heroines are physically modelled on EBB herself (in the low-born Marian Erle) and on her surrogate self, the American Margaret Fuller (fragmenting as the aristocratic heroine Aurora and the titled villainess Lady Waldemar). Margaret Fuller, called 'New England's Corinna' by the Transcendalists after Madame de Staël's novel, had borne a child out of wedlock in the midst of the birth/death pangs of the Risorgimento's Roman Republic. She drowned at sea with her child and its father, the Marchese Ossoli, when crossing home to America on the ship Elizabeth (19 July 1850) after first establishing a great friendshiop with the initially disapproving EBB in Florence. Margaret's drowning in a namesake shi psychologically released Elizabeth to write this epit. Romney Leigh, the epic's anti-hero, likewise is a composite, of Robert Browning and of all EBB's previous loves, of the blind Greek scholar Hugh Stuart Boyd, of the social reformer and man of letters Richard Hengist Horne, and of EBB's cousin, the wealthy and most generous John Kenyon.

Critics observed that AL contained more lines than Paradise Lost or the Odyssey, yet they read to the end of it, enthralled. John Ruskin repeatedly praised AL, associating it with Shakespeare, William Morris recommended it to his working class audiences, Queen Victoria noted in her diary that it was 'a most extraordinary story and very strange for a woman to have written'. Virginia Woolf, in the Common Reader, showed how AL 'rushed' into stuffy Victorian homes: for EBB wrote to RB (27 February 1845), saying her future epic was to be

a sort of novel-poem - a poem as completely modern as 'Geraldine's Courtship', running into the midst of our conventions and rushing into drawing rooms and the like, 'where angels fear to tread'; and so, meeting face to face and without mask the Humanity of the age, and speaking the truth as I conceive of it plainly. That is my intention.

Some of AL is written in the 'State of England' genre of the novels written by Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-65), Charlotte Bront
ë (1816-55), Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81) and Charles Dickens (1812-70). It is also a global work, its settings veering from Dante and Milton and de Staël's Italy to Langland, Shakespeare and Dickens' England, then to George Sand's France and back again to Italy. Between the lines, it even includes America's phalanstery of Brook Farm and Jamaica's slave plantation of Cinnamon Hill. AL should be read with Madame de Staël's Corinne ou Italie (1807), RB's The Ring and the Book (1868-9) and Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Marble Faun (1860), as well as with an entire library of classic texts. It marries ancient and modern writing and includes its own literary theory, in the manner of Henry Fielding, within its Bildungsroman. Its two heroines are modelled on Miriam of the Heberew Scriptures and on Mary of the Greek Testament. Its Sibylline Aurora, the progeny of Madame de Staël's Sibylline Corinne, derives as well from Michelangelo's Medicean Tomb sculptures of Dawn and from his Sistine Chapel's Cumaean Sibyl, patroness of Virgil's Aeneas. AL is a woman's epic, earning Corinna's laurels.

EBB's prose publications were dedicated to her father. AL she dedicated (17 October 1856) to her dying benefactor, John Kenyon, with whom the Brownings were staying at 39 Devonshire Place, saying first that Kenyon as a cousin was far preferable to Romney, and then that 'I venture to leave in your hands this book, the most mature of my works, and the one into which my highest convictions upon Life and Art have entered'. The text given here follows that of the final revises for the first English ediction, published by Chapman and Hall in London (21 October 1856), and which were corrected by RB for the first American edition set from it. Bound as a volume, with the American typsetters' pagination marks upon the pages, this transatlantic text is now in the Robert Taylor Collection, Princeton University, Robert Taylor having kindly given assent to its use. Later and more laboured corrected versions of the text of AL, culminating in the fourth edition issued in 1859, lose some of the dash and spontaneity of EBB's initial version, though these corrections are used in the editions by Charlotte Porter and Helen A. Clarke (1900) and by Margaret Reynolds (1992). The poem's line numbers from the Penguin edition, edited by Julia Bolton Holloway (1995), are given in the notes in bold type.

First Book 

Aurora tells of her parents' courtship and of her birth in Florence: My mother was a Florentine . . . My father was an austere Englishman (lines 29, 65). she is closely modelled upon Madame de Sta
ël's heroine in Corinne ou Italie, likewise half Florentine, half English. (Anne Louise Germaine de Staël in real life was the daughter of Susanne Curchod, the historian Edward Gibbon's mistress.) Line 45 names the authorial heroine: I, Aurora Leigh, her first name evoking Michelangelo's sculpture of Aurora, Dawn, as well as being that of George Sand's true name, Aurore Dudevant, her last name being that of Byron's half-sister, Augusta Leigh. Aurora is first educated by her widowed father as if he were Prospero and she, Miranda in Shakespeare's Tempest. Next, orphaned, the grieving Florentine child is brought to England to be raised by a maiden aunt. This book discusses her education, the cultural wrench from Italy to England, and the beginning our her courtship with her cousin, Romney.

I.1 Of writing many books there is no end: Ecclesiastes 12.12; John 21.25. 2 in prose and verse: Milton, Paradise Lost, I.16, 'Things unattempted yet in Prose or Rhyme'. EBB begins AL by quoting the Bible and a Christian epic. 4-8: a veiled dedication to RB.

Florence and Childhood
22 Assunta: Catholic Florentine maid named after Assumption of the Virgin into Heaven. EBB's Florentine maid actually named Annunziata, after Annunciation to the Virgin. 24 scudi: plural of scudo, obsolete Florentine coin. The blonde hair and blue eyes of Aurora Leigh are modelled upon those of Margaret Fuller, 'New England's Corinne'. 41-2 lamb . . . fold: Dante, Paradiso XXV.4-9. 58 Which burns and hurts not: the burning bush, Exodus 3.2; see also AL VII.821-3. 77. Santissima: square in front of church of the Florentine Order of the Servites of Mary, the Santissima Annunziata (Most Holy Annunciation); see also AL VII.1278; date of the festa probably 25 March, Annunciation to the Virgin, shadowily making Aurora like Christ.

Engraving, Piazza Santissima Annunziata

A face flashed like a cymbal on his face: Exodus 15.20-21:
Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron's sister, took a cymbal in her hand; and all the women went out after her with cymbals and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them:
Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.
First of many allusions to Miriam in poem; see AL II.170-71, III.203, VIII.334-5, 1021-2; Casa Guidi Windows I.314. 100-101 make the stones Cry out: Luke 19.40. 102 Santa Croce: Franciscan church, south east of Florence's Cathedral, with funerary monuments to Michelangelo and Dante.

Colonel Goff, Santa Croce. In EBB's day the cloisters about it were filled with tombs.

111 Pelago: mountain village near the monastery of Vallombrosa. 114 Pan's white goats, with udders warm: for fresh milk during the voyage to America, Margaret Fuller's baby, Angelo Ossoli, nursed a goat on the ship Elizabeth. 127 picture of my mother on the wall: portrait painted by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-97) of RB's Creole grandmother who holds a copy of James Thomson's The Seasons (1730); see also AL III.973m VII.607; RB, when a child, saw her in her coffin. 130 cameriera: maid. 132 Pitti: grand ducal palace in Florence, almost opposite Casa Guidi; EBB attended a ball there. 155 Muse . . . Fate: female deities of art and death. 156 Psyche: (soul, butterfly) beloved of Love, Cupid, separated from him by jealous Venus, Apuleius, Metamorphoses (The Golden Ass) IV-VI. 157 Medusa: a Gorgon whose snake locks turned onlookers into stone. 160 Our Lady of the Passion: Mary, Christ's mother, told by Simeon that she would mourn her son's life and death, Luke 2:35; statue present in Florence's Santissima Annunziata.

James Rotherham, 'Mater Dolorosa', Santissima Annunziata

Lamia: the fatal snake woman of Keats' poem; see also AL IV.990, VII.147. 178 Lazarus: in Byzantine and Italian art shown in his shroud and bands as Christ restores him to life, John 11.44. 185-98, 720-28 Shakespeare, The Tempest, Prospero and Miranda; also EBB and her father. 204 nine: Dante's La Vita Nuova number for Beatrice, 'blessedness'. See also AL I.240, II.898.

England and Education
230-31: repetition used also by Dante to express grief, Purgatorio XXX.36,73. 235 suppliants: Homer, Odyssey VI.142.7; Aeschylus, Oresteia, Eumenides, lines 34-45. 238 pasture to the stars: Dante, Purgatorio XXXIII.142-5. 239-40: English Milton used ten as symbolic of completion, nine of gestation, Paradise Lost I.50, VI.194-5,871; see also AL VIII.45: Italian Dante, La Vita Nuova, had nine be sacred. See also AL I.204, II.898. 342 Tuscan: region around Florence, people and language. 390 lilies: symbol of Annunciation to the Virgin, and of Florence, in the latter case being the wild purple iris, here as Italian words, 'Bene', 'well', 'che ch'è', 'what is that?' 394-5 Articles . . . Tracts: Established Church of England's controversial Oxford Movement publications; EBB and RB both Dissenters, typical of West Indian Puritan stock; see also AL VIII.900. 395 Buonaventure's 'Prick of Love': Pre-Reformation devotional text. 420 noisy Tophet: Gehenna, furnaces for child sacrifices to Moloch, 2 Kings 23.10; Jeremiah 7.32. 424 Cellarius: a waltz. 454-5 tortoise-shell: Aeschylus' death caused by an eagle dropping a tortoise on his bald pate, which it mistook for a stone, killing him, Aelian VIII.16; tortoise-shell used for lyres by Greek epic and lyric poets. 467-9 Brinvilliers . . . water-torture: tiny Marie Marguerite, Marquise de Brinvilliers, forced to drink three buckets of water, drowning her lungs, then beheaded (1676) for multiple murders in her family for the sake of her lover, St Croix, discussed by Madame de Sevigny. 527-8 goats: Matthew 25.32-3. 563 visionary chariots: 2 Kings 2.11, Ezekiel 1.4-28. 567-614: description of EBB's Wimpole Street room, London, within Hope End landscape, Malvern. 612 my Giotto's background: Giotto's Byzantine and Gothic predecessors painted against a background of gold, Giotto broke from this convention. 616 Vallombrosa: monastery near Florence, which Milton (1638-9), and then the Brownings (1847), visited:
Thick as Autumnal Leaves that strow the Brooks
In Vallombrosa, where th'Etrurian shades
High over-arch't embow'r (Milton, Paradise Lost I.302-4);
Milton and Browning played on organ there. See also Casa Guidi Windows I.1129-64. 700-10 books: Milton, Areopagitica, Paradise Regained IV.321, 330. 710-28: Tempest, Prospero teaching Caliban and Miranda; Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, teaching Man Friday. 712 Theophrast: Theophrastus, friend and pupil of Aristotle, wrote Characters. 714 AElian: wrote Aesopic fables and histories: EBB's reading with her brother at Hope End. 723-6 Achilles' mother hid him, disguised as a girl, at the court of King Lycomedes so he would not fight at Troy, Odysseus finding him. EBB's classical similes generally involve gender reversals: see also AL I.454-5, 919-34, II.777-80, etc. 736-8 Ah, babe i' the wood, without a brother-babe: reference to loss of EBB's brother, Edward. 739-844: EBB here describes her father's library at Hope End, where she was allowed to read all the books except Edward Gibbons' Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-88) and a few others: library had to be stored in packing cases when Hope End was sold. 747 Too long beside a fountain: Narcissus and Echo, Ovid, Metamorphoses III.339-510. 767 Saul and Nahash: 1 Samuel 11,16.8-11, 2 Samuel 3. 792-800: argument of Milton's Areopagitica. 797 God: Blenheim soldier's prayer 'O God, if there be a God, save my soul, if I have a soul', EBB to RB (15 January 1846). 826 palimpsest: a manuscript whose previous text has been scraped away and a new text added to the parchment; holograph: a manuscript in author's writing. 828 The apocalypse, by a Longus!: a medieval manuscript of the Apocalypse replaced with the erotic text of the Greek and Renaissance Pastoral of Daphnis and Chloe. 831 alpha and omega: Revelation 1.8, 17, first and last letters of Greek alphabet, inscribed on God's book of the Apocalypse. 836-8: early Victorians recognized the discovery of fossils, such as the mastodon and dinosaurs, while believing the world to be aged only the biblical six thousand years. 845-54: Wordsworth, 'Composed upon Westminster Bridge' (1802). 855-80: Sir Philip Sidney, The Defense of Poesie (1598); Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry (1821), which relates the freeing of women and slaves and poetry; see EBB, 'A Vision of Poets' (1844). 865 shadow on a charnel-wall: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales IV.1315, VII.9; Pisa, Campo Santo, Francesco Traini, Triumph of Death, the fresco John Ruskin was sketching when Brownings were in Pisa on their honeymoon. Anna Jameson, EBB's great friend, also discussed the fresco and sketched a similar work for her book Sacred and Legendary Art, II.757-9. 867-9 measure: Revelation 21.17. 896-915: see EBB, Seraphim and Other Poems (1838). 919-34 My eagle: Zeus in the form of an eagle seized the beautiful young Ganymede to be his cupbearer on Olympus; EBB/Aurora instead gives cup to Zeus' wife, Heré. 941 Bourbon: French royalty imprisoned during Revolution, slept on straw while awaiting death. 948-9 Prodigal Son, Luke 15.11-32. 950 sit down under their own vine: 1 Kings 4.25; Jonah 4.5-11; Micah 4.4. 964 the god Term: Terminus, sacred boundary stones in Rome. 976-7 'Touch me not, do not taste': Colossians 2.21. 978 phorminx: seven-stringed harp or lyre in Homer, Apollo's instrument. 981 purple-braided head: Corinna won the laurel five times over Pindar, partly because of her great beauty, Pindar's description here being of both the Muses and of Corinna; see also AL II.33-53, VIII.1220-22; 'Sonnets from the Portuguese' XX. 990-1002: EBB is mocking her childhood poems, including the epic, The Battle of Marathon, written in 1819, when she was twelve and privately printed (6 March, 1820) by her father and her childhood lyrics as well. 1000-1002 wine-skins: Matthew 9.17; Mark 2.22; Luke 5.37-8. 1003-12 John Keats, see EBB, 'A Vision of Poets' (1844), lines 7-11. 1020-22 Shelley, 'Ozymandias'. 1061-4: EBB's anorexia nervosa over Bro's departure for Charterhouse. 1095-1100 Vincent Carrington: EBB's painter friend was the suicide Benjamin Haydon (1846); she especially treasured his portrait of Wordsworth on Helvellyn which hung in her room at Wimpole Street,

Benjamin Haydon, 'Wordsworth on Helvellyn'

he also painted Christ's Agony in the Garden, The Raising of Lazarus, Pharoah Dismissing the Israelites, Achilles at the Court of Lycomedes Discovering his Sex, The Antislavery Convention, etc. 1099 Master: God, Creator of the Soul. 1145 Deliver us from evil: Lord's Prayer, Matthew 6.13.

Second Book

In this book, on her twentieth birthday in June, Aurora cowns herself Poet Laureate with ivy, not bay, Romney Leigh's marriage proposal is rejected by her and, soon after, her maiden aunt dies, leaving her free and poor. This book is influenced by Genesis and Milton's Paradise Lost, IV, IX; by Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792); by Madame de Sta
ël's Corinne, ou Italie (1807), and by 'New England's Corinna', Margaret Fuller (1810-50) and her relationships with Emerson and Thoreau. EBB was proposed by the Athenaeum for Poet Laureate (1 June 1859).

II.33-53 Dante's own: laurel (bay) crown, Paradiso XXV.7-9; Petrarch's coronation with laurel (Easter 1341); Madame de Sta
ël's heroine similarly crowned on the Capitoline; see also AL I.981, VIII.122022; 'Sonnets from the Portuguese', XX (Aurora substitutes Bacchic ivy). 52 thyrsus: staff twined with ivy, surmounted with pine cone, sacred to Bacchus. 61-2 caryatid: Erectheum, on Athenian Acropolis has stone maidens hold up cornice on their heads. 66 Aurora: Dawn, figure upon Michelangelo's Medici Tomb, Florence. See also Casa Guidi Windows I.73-4, which in the 1851 text, presented in the Penguin edition, begins 'The sculptor's . . . ' but in the 1856 text has 'Michel's Night and day/ And Dawn and Twlight, wait in marble scorn', using Strozzi's 'talking statues' epigram:
The Night that here thou seest, in graceful guise
Thus sleeping, by an Angel's hand was carved
In this pure stone, but sleeping, still she lives.
Awake her if thou doubtest, and she'll speak.

Michelangelo, San Lorenzo, Medici Tomb, 'Aurora'

And Michelangelo's response in the face of Medicean tyranny:
Happy am I to sleep, and still more blest
to be of stone, while grief and shame endure;
To see, not feel, is now my utmost hope,
Wherefore speak softly, and awake me not
EBB adds that Florence is at last waking to a dawn of freedom, 'great Angelo! the day is come', Casa Guidi Windows I.145. 66-71 shipwrecked: reminiscent of her brother's and Margaret Fuller's shipwrecks, of Shelley's drowning and Keats' epitaph, 'Here lies one whose name was writ in water'. 76-7 lady's Greek/ Without the accents: 'naked' Greek. Bro and Ba studied the Charterhouse pronunciation together (1817-20), under their tutor, Daniel McSwiney, before Bro entered Charterhouse. EBB, when twenty, and Sir Uvedale Price (Wordsworth's friend), collaborated on a study of Greek metrics, which was published under his name (1827). The letters  between Ba and Sir Uvedale Price, carefully discussing the Charterhouse accentuation of Greek (taken up again by W.B. Stanford in living memory), are in the Armstrong Browning Library, Baylor University, Texas. 81-2 Ophelia's garlanded drowning 'There is a willow grows aslant a brook', Shakespeare, Hamlet IV.vii.166-83. 83 Oread: mountain nymph; Naiad, spring, river, lake nymph. 102 God's Dead: Revelations 7-9. 119-22: falcon similes, Dante, Inferno XVII.127-32; Purgatorio XIX.61-7; Paradiso XIX.34-6; Boccaccio, Decameron, V.IX; see also AL VI.521-5, VIII.22. 167 six thousand years: believed from the Bible to be the world's age. 169 sit upon a bank: Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream II.i.249-ii.32, III.i; The Merchant of Venice V.i.53-88. 170-71 Miriam: her song, Exodus 15.19-21; see also AL I.87-9, III.203, VIII.334-5, 1021-2; Casa Guidi Windows I.314. 175-9 sounding brass: 1 Corinthians 13.1; Virgil, Aeneid I.430-36; Dante, Paradiso XXXI.7-9; Milton, Paradise Lost I.690-776. 194-5 Your father were a negro: EBB's father partly was, from the Moulton side of the Barrett Moulton Barrett family; EBB published The Cry of the Children (1843), The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point (1848). 202 Tarsus: noted for opulent merchandise, Acts 9.1-31. 210 Cordelia: Shakespeare, King Lear IV.iii.11-24, vii.71-6. 269-70: Roman triumph with chariots, Arch of Titus reliefs, Dante, Purgatorio X.73-95; see also AL II.975-6. 277-9 Lazarus: Luke 16.20-31. 412 Hagar: bondmaid, Genesis 16,21. 415 chief apostle: Paul of Tarsus Epistles. 482: Charles François-Marie Fourier (1772-1837), French Utopian who influenced European and American thought during the 'Hungry Forties', years of social breakdown and famine in the nineteenth century; see also AL III.108, 583-4, V.720-28, 782-93, IX.868-9. Brook Farm in America, where Nathaniel Hawthorne and Margaret Fuller stayed, was a phalanstery using Fourier's principles. EBB wrote to Mary Russell Mitford:
I love liberty so intensely that I hate Socialism. I hold it to be the most desecrating and dishonouring to Humanities, of all creeds. I would rather (for me) live under the absolutism of Nicholas of Russia, than in a Fourier-machine, with my individuality sucked out of me by a social air-pump.
536 tribute: Christ's Temptation, Matthew 4.1-11; Luke 4.1-13. 611 entail: restrictions governing inheritance of estate to oldest male heir.  622-41 cousin: such marriages were common in the Barrett Moulton barrett family to ensure the entail of Jamaican slave plantations. 636 fiefs and manors: feudal rights and obligations of ownership. 678 altar-horns: Exodus 27.2, 38.1-2. Leviticus 4.25; Psalms 118.27; Revelation 9.13. 697-700 brand: mark of Cain, Genesis 4.15; Dante, Purgatorio IX.112-13. 759: EBB knows that swords have mouths in biblical, classical languages. 778-80 Iphigenia: her sacrifice at Aulis by her father to ensure success at Troy: Aeschylus, Agamemnon; Euripides, Iphigenia at Aulis. 792: patient Griseld's tale of spousal abuse: Boccaccio, Decameron X, Petrarch, De obedientia; Chaucer, Canterbury Tales XVII; EBB's slave-owning West Indian ancestors. 794 Ragged Schools: schools for pauper children. EBB's sister, Arabella, established one for girls; see 'A Plea for the Ragged Schools of London'. 810-12 dead love: Pedro of Portugal crowned and enthroned the exhumed body of his dead wife, Inez, Camoens, the Lusiads III.118-35; Pedro of Spain followed suit. 813-15 Olympian crowns: Hellenic and scriptural: 1 Corinthians 9.25; 2 Timothy 2.5. 817 Chaldean: (Aramaic), a language EBB could read. Romney will speak of Aurora's Sanscrit, AL VIII.477. 839 Write woman's verses: letter parallels RB's to EBB, written 15 August 1845, scorning George Sand's Consuelo: 'I shall tell you frankly that it strikes me as precisely what in conventional language with the customary silliness is styled a woman's book . . .' Here, in a George Sand-like AL, Romney scorns 'woman's verses' as he had earlier 'lady's Greek/ Without the accents', AL II.76-7. EBB kept the 'Sonnets from the Portuguese' (1846) secret from RB for three years because of a similar comment he had made to her about women sonneteers during the Wimpole Street courtship, finally giving the sonnets to him at Bagni di Lucca (1849). 834-5 Chaldean: prophets, seers, like the Sibyls. 853, 973 'Sister, viator': 'Pause, traveller', tomb inscriptions on the Appian Way. 863-5 Cleopatra's breast: Plutarch, Lives; Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra V.ii; Dryden, All for Love. 898 clock struck nine: as with Milton's Paradise Lost, Dante's La Vita Nuova, nine is crucial to AL's numerology; here it refers obliquely to the hour of Christ's death, at the ninth hour of daylight, Matthew 27.46. See also AL I.204, 240, IV.935. 960 Babylon or Balbec: Babylon was the name in medieval and Renaissance texts for Old Cairo in the Egyptian desert, with sands building up around the pyramids and Sphinx: Baalbek, also in ruins, in Syria. 975-6 Caesar's chariot: Dante, Purgatorio X.73-95; see also AL II.269-70. Emily Dickinson influenced by this line in 'The soul selects her own Society--' (1862). 990 chronicle the pence: Shakespeare, Othello II.i.157. 1068-9 ship: EBB's mother's family, the Graham Clarkes of Newcastle-on-Tyne, were in such commerce, EBB herself having shares in the ship David Lyon, which supported the Browning household. 1133-5: Shakespeare, Twelfth Night II.v.94-8. 1148-52 Solomon . . . his holy ring: shown to Jerusalem pilgrims. 1165 Valdarno: fallen leaves simile in Virgil, Aeneid VI.310-11; Dante, Inferno III.112-17; Milton, Paradise Lost I.301-4, in the last associated with Valdarno, I.290, the valley of river Arno in which Florence is situated, as well as Vallombrosa. 1170: Iliad III.2-6; Milton, Paradise Lost I.775-92; Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock (1714). 1237 seven years: biblical period of apprenticeship, Genesis 29-20; Deuteronomy 15.1, 12-18. 1245 divided rocks: Scylla and Charybdis, Odyssey XII.234-59.

Third Book

Aurora, now twenty-seven, is living independently as a writer in a London garret - like Harriet Martineau and Margaret Fuller. Titled Lady Waldemar, this poem's Lamia/ Medusa, tries to persuade Aurora to prevent Romney's marriage to working-class Marian Erle (whose name, however, suggests an aristocratic earlship). Aurora visits Marian, who tells her of her abused childhood ('There's not a crime/ But takes its proper change out still in crime,/ If once rung on the counter of this world', III.869-71) and of Romney's rescue of her. Marian's account in this book and the next, III-IV, followed by that in VI and VII, parallels otehr tales within tales, Odysseus' narration to King Alcinous and Queen Arete on Phaeacia, Odyssey, VII-XII; that of Cupid and Psyche the old woman tells in the robbers' den prior to hanging herself, Apuleius, Metamorphoses, IV-VI.

III.1-6 thou girdest up thy loins: Christ speaking to Peter, John 21.18-19, with the expression frequently used in Hebrew Scriptures. 4-11: Peter asked to be crucified upside down at Rome. 25 Susan: this maid, from Aurora's childhood house, AL II.930, has followed her mistress into London poverty. Elizabeth Wilson, EBB's maid, went with her to Italy, purchased her laudanum. 42-4 letters with red seals: Victorian letters with penny red stamps on them bearing the Queen's head and fastened with red sealing wax. EBB's vivacious letters were sent in this manner from her Wimpole Street sickroom. 48 Ararat: Armenian mountain where the Ark came to rest, Genesis 8.4. 53-60: Kate Ward (prophetic of Kate Field the American) sees herself as disciple to Aurora Leigh, inheriting her cloak, as did Elisha from Elihah, 2 Kings 2.11-14; see also AL I.563, VII.576-608. 61 Rudgely; perhaps Richard Hengist Horne, EBB's editor, A New Spirit of the Age. 80 My critic Stokes: RB used the same name to designate inferior poets, 'Popularity' (1855). 88-90: RB and EBB's friend, Seymour Kirkup, discovered Giotto's portrait of Dante in the Bargello Magdalen Chapel fresco (1850).

Victorian Sepia Photograph, Bargello Fresco, Dante Portrait

. A ninth seal: Revelation 8.1, concerning the book with seven seals; EBB has altered number to harmonize with AL's nine Sibylline books. 108 phalansteries: lodging houses on camel routes, here a Utopia-like Brook Farm, modelled upon the nineteenth-century writings of Charles Fourier, see also AL II.482, III.583-4, V.720-28, 782-93, IX.868-9; EBB learned of these Franco-American projects from Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne; England's socialistic projects were instead mainly fostered by Robert Owen. 110-11 golden apple: on Aphrodite's advice Hippomenes dropped three golden apples from the garden of the Hesperides in a foot race with Atalanta to win her in marriage; in tale of Paris and Helen, Paris awarded the golden apple of discord not to wise Athena but to strife-causing Aphrodite; Aurora is both Atalanta and Athena, Romney, Hippomenes and Paris. 113 Lord Howe: see note to AL IV.709-44. 122 Danae: imprisoned in a brazen tower by her father, became mother of Perseus who was sired by Jove in a golden shower, her father cast the mother and child adrift in a chest, Ovid, Metamorphoses IV; analogue for EBB's relationship with her father, husband and child; cited again AL VII.586. 164-5 Sweat: Genesis 3.19. 172-5 fiery brass: in which Druids burnt sacrificial victims to death; idols were actually of wicker, EBB combining them with brazen Phalerian Bull and other pagan sacrifices. 178-86: Victorian London fog, due to coal smoke, now banned. 191 Sinai: Exodus 19.20, where Moses received the Hebraic Law; Parnassus: mountain of the Greek Muses. 197-203 Pharoah's armaments: Exodus 15.20-21; see also AL I.87, II.170-71, VIII.334-5, 1021-2; Casa Guidi Windows I.314. 213-4 Emily Dickinson, who read EBB, used AL II.853 and 975-6. 218 'Collegisse juvat': 'who delight to gather Olympic dust', Horace, Odes I.i3-4. 247-9: EBB experienced several miscarriages, which her maid, Elizabeth Wilson, believed were due to her addiction to laudanum; with Wilson's help EBB stopped the intake long enough to bear the child Pen. 267-71 yew: necessary for the English longbow yet poisonous to cattle, they could only be safely planted in fenced-in graveyards, thus associated, though evergreen, with death. 274-8: EBB's childhood tuberculosis, affecting her spine, compounded by anorexia nervosa, for which laudanum was prescribed. 324 Nephelococcygia: 'Cloud-cuckoo-land', Aristphanes' The Birds. 358 Lady Waldemar: 'Valley of the Sea', EBB's shadow self, association with Vallombrosa, 'Valley of Shadows', Valdarno 'Valley of the Arno River'. 363-4: the nine Muses were daughters of Mnemosyne (Memory), celestial partrons of literature, music and art. The Cumaean Sibyl offered to sell nine books of prophetic oracles (AL similarly has nine books) in Greek hexameters to Tarquin the Superb. He refused to pay her price, so she burnt three, then again three more. The three last books he did acquire were kept in the Temple of Capitoline Jove, where Corinne (in de Stael's novel) was to utter her prophecies concerning Italy. 390-93 Androcles: pulled a thorn from a lion's paw, then was saved in gratitude by the lion in the arena, Aelian VII.48. 414-21 papist: Roman Catholic: see Pope, The Rape of the Lock (1714), II.7-8. 459 Blowsalinda: implying pretty, but overblown, country girl, John Gay, The Shepherd's Week (1714). 471-3 Wertherism: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Die Leiden des jungen Werthers, The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774); Champs Elysées: Parisian boulevard named after Elysian Fields in Virgil, Aeneid VI; sighing like Dido: Aeneid VI.4506. 484-8 doves between the temple columns: classical augury partly carried out through watching bird flight patterns. 513 Genius of the Vatican: fragment by Apollonius; Michelangelo, when blind, would feel it with his hands. 516: Praxiteles' Drunken Fawn. Nathaniel Hawthorne's family identified RB with this sculpture, which inspired Hawthorne's The Marble Faun. EBB misspells it. 518 Buonarotti's mask: Michelangelo's sculpture of Night on the Medici Tomb rests on a grotesque swinish mask. EBB and RB, both fascinated by sculpture, had American sculptor friends in Italy, William Wetmore Story, Harriet Hosmer and Harriet Powers. 547 Homer's ships: epic catalogue, Iliad II.493-760. 548: William Lamb, Viscount Melbourne's poor-bills against charity and pauperism, deliberately made workhouses uncongenial. Though Home Secretary Melbourne actually had little to do with Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834; Ashley's factory bills (1833-46), bills prohibiting labour by children under ten, limiting work day to eight hours for children under fourteen, providing for schooling, medical care, vigorously supported by Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftsbury. EBB's The Cry of the Children instrumental in 1844 bill's passage. Richard Hengist Horne, who served on the Royal Commission for the Investigation of the Employment of Children in Mines and Manufactories (1842), is a model for Romney. 549 Aspasia: Pericles' learned and beautiful hetaera. Walter Savage Landor, friend of the Brownings, wrote Pericles and Aspasia (1836). 555 'stops bungholes': Lucian; Hamlet V.i.199-212. 583-4: Charles Fourier, originator of communistic phalanstarianism; see also AL II.482, III.108, V.720-28, 782-93, IX.868-9. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-65), stated 'All property is theft'. Victor Considerant (1808-93), disciple of Fourier, editor of La Phalange. Louis Blanc (1811-82), considered man's labour should be for community rather than self. 595 Eugène Sue wrote The Mysteries of Paris (1842), The Wandering Jew (1844-5), saw proletariats as Gauls, capitalists as conquering Franks. 600 Ten Hours' movement: Factory Act passed 1847 providing for ten-hour day for women and young people. 602 Indian tortoise: in Hindu myth the world rests on an elephant, which stands on a tortoise, which swims in primeval ocean; see AL VIII.53. 613-14 EBB combines Greek Fathers' lives and martyrdoms she read with Hugh Boyd, Book of Foxe's Martyrs (1563, 1570) and King Charles Martyr's punning joke upon the axe's edge to behead him (1649). 680-81 Hamlet V.ii.276-7; Othello V.ii.342-4. 705 Medicean Venus, Greek copy, Praxiteles' Venus of Cnido, owned by Florentine Medici ì, in Uffizi Tribune, seen by EBB (1847). Elizabeth Wilson, EBB's maid, reacted in horror to the sculptured nudes in Florence. RB and EBB delighted in such sculpture.

The Trollope Household: Hester Rust, their maid, Fanny Trollope and her daughter Cecilia Trollope, represented as viewing plaster casts of nude classical sculpture during the Women's Hour in New York. Illustration by August Hervieux for Fanny Trollope's Domestic Manners of the Americans.

Marian Erle's Childhood and Education
757-92: see Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor (1851); Dickens' novels. Margaret Street, Wimpole Street, Devonshire Place are close together in London.ì, EBB learning of the poorer section, Margaret Court from her quest to ransom Flush (5 September 1846). 805-8 daughters: King Lear III.iv, IV.iv. 808-25: Marian Erle, EBB's physical self-portrait. 830 Malvern Hill: EBB's childhood home and initial setting of Langland's Piers Plowman, fourteenth-century Wycliffite pilgrimage poem. 950-51 fair scroll-finis of a wicked book: Apocalypse 5.1; Dante's metaphor of World as Book. EBB feared the sea, which drowned Percy Bysshe Shelley (1822), her brother, Edward Barrett Moulton Barrett (1840), and Margaret Fuller, Margaret being lost in the shipwreck of the Elizabeth (1850). 973: RB's grandmother in portrait by Joseph Wright of Derby holds James Thomson's Seasons; see also AL I.127, VII.608; mulcted of the Spring: EBB is to used word 'mulcted' of Romney's eyesight; see also AL III.409, IX.564. Here EBB gives her other heroine's library. 978-9 Ruth's/ Small gleanings: Ruth 2.3-4, paupers such as widows and orphans allowed by law to glean remaining wheat at harvest. 980 Churchyard Elegies: Gray, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (1751), notes unjust social conditions that depopulated the countryside; Edens Lost, Milton's Paradise Lost (1667). 981: Robert Burns (1756-96), Scots poet, wrote of the common people: John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim's Progress in prison (1675); Alexander Selkirk, original for Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719); Henry Fielding, Tom Jones (1749), EBB's father forbade her to read it and Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. 996 lecture at an institute: Victorian popular education movement; William Morris was to recommend AL to working class audiences attending such lectures. 1026-31 pennyworth out of her: Richard Hengist Horne's report (1842); see The Cry of the Children. 1173 seraphs: chronicling sun's making, order of angels, Isaiah 6.2-8; see EBB 'The Seraphim' (1838). 1202-5: William Blake, 'The Little Black Boy', Songs of Innocence (1789). 1206-7 where John was laid: John 13.23-5; also echoes iconographically Mary Magdalen and Christ, Matthew 26.7-13; Luke 7.37-50; John 20.14-18. 1221-2 ointment-box: Luke 7.37-9; again Mary Magdalen and Christ. 1225: Doubting Thomas so touched the wounds of Christ, John 20.24-9.

Fourth Book

Marian continues her narration to Aurora of her encounters with her saviour, Romney. Then Marion Erle's wedding at St James, Piccadilly, to Romney Leigh, attended by both lower-and upper-class guests, miscarries, amidst references to Hamlet and King Lear, and beneath the shadow of Christ's parables of wedding feasts to which sinners and paupers are ingathered while the wealthy and idle are excluded (Matthew 22,25; Luke 12,14). Marian's letter to Romney names Lady Waldemar as agent in the bride's non-appearance.

IV.2: Lucy Gresham, the opposite of whoring Rose Bell, shares EBB's tuberculosis. 21: Rose Bell? 27 Lady Waldemar's new dress: Oscar Wilde to borrow this motif, The Happy Prince (1888). 41-3 drink: Matthew 25.32-46. 46 lamp of human love: reflects Florence Nightingale, 'Lady with the Lamp' (1854-5), of whom EBB disapproved, beliving women should be doctors, not nurses, though Margaret Fuller similarly worked with Cristina, Princess Belgioioso (Henry James' Princess Casamassima) in Roman hospitals (1849).  109-17: Genesis 1.26, 2.7, 'Adam' in Hebrew meaning clay and Everyman; Lucian; Hamlet VI.i. 122-4: Longinus the knight, in medieval legend, pierced Christ's heart with his lance, the one an aristocrat, the other a carpenter, an artisan. 146-7: hand touching ark, 2 Samuel 6.6-7. 190 Rialto-prices: the Rialto, the commercial centre of Venice, favourite EBB image; see also 'Sonnets from the Portuguese' XX; The Merchant of Venice. 195-202: Hindu widows went into purdah, Christian British authorities in India attempting to change such customs. 237 flickering wild-fowl tails: quills of wild goose feathers imported in barrels in the nineteenth century from Hudson Bay in Canada; also the calligraphic flourishes they write. 307-8 obolus: Greek silver coin, inscribed with owl and head of ruler, Matthew 22.19-21; Luke 20.20-26; also the legend of Belisarius, Justinian's general, blinded by him and begging in the streets of Constantinople for an obolus. 309-10 Vandykes: Anthony Van Duke (1599-1641), painted England's nobility (especially Charles I, considered a martyr and a saint); see also AL VIII.949; and EBB's sonnet on 'The Picture Gallery at Penshurst' (1833). 334 galley- couplings. Vatican States flung political prisoners into dungeons, chaining them to benches until they died, as had been done in earlier times with criminal slaves on benches of galley ships. Such prisoners, called 'galeotti' were still mouldering in a living death in their chains in EBB's day, including several members of the Castellani family of patriot goldsmiths; RB, The Ring and the Book I.1-4, XII.864-70. 370 Austria's daughter to imperial France: Emperor Napoleon took for his second wife the Habsbourg Emperor's daughter, Marie Louise, after divorcing Creole Joséphine de Beauharnais. 373 Saint James's fashionable church, built by Christopher Wren (1682). EBB's sister, Henrietta, married there, 6 April 1850.

  St James' Church, Piccadilly

380-81 cothurn: thick-soled boot worn by Greek tragic actor. 383-4: Aeschylus' Eumenides presented Furies in blody garb on stage, frightening play's audience. 402 François-Pierre Guizot, writer and statesman, twice disgraced (1830, 1848). 403-4: EBB is emulating Dickens' portrayal of social injustice. 405-6 are potatoes to grow mythical/ Like moly? potato blight in Ireland (1845-6), caused millions to die or emigrate in the Great Famine. 468 Cain: Genesis 4.1-25. 491 bohea: tea. 493 Potiphar: Genesis 39; Henry Fielding, Joseph Andrews (1742). 499 Good critics: the English bard, John Keats (1795-1821), according to Shelley, was killed by a cruel review (1818) in the Quarterly Review, founded in part by Sir Walter Scott, an idea Byron laughed at. Review journals in EBB's day were the Edinburgh Review, the Athenaeum (for which EBB wrote) and the Westminster Review (for which George Eliot wrote). 538-9 St Giles: in poor section of London, inhabitants dressed in rough wool and shoddy (rewoven) cloth); St James: aristocratic section of London, reference to Field of Cloth of Gold at Calais, where French and English nobility competed with display of opulence (1520); Shakespeare, Henry VIII I.i.13-45; see also AL VII.634. 561-3 broidered hems: recall Lucy Gresham dying of tuberculosis while sewing such garments. 564-71 snakes: Virgil, Aeneid II.203-33. 595 Raffael's mild Madonna: Madonna of the Gold Finch, Uffizi Tribune, Florence. EBB, with Anna Jameson, saw preparatory drawing for this painting in Samuel Rogers' collection (June 1846).

Raphael, Uffizi Tribune, 'Madonna of the Goldfinch'

Johann Zoffany, Uffizi, Tribuna, with Raphael, 'Madonna of the Goldfinch'

665 Prince Albert's model lodging house: Prince Consort addressed the Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes (18 May 1848) as their President; in 1851 he personally financed four model dwelling houses which, during the Exhibition, attracted over 250,000 visitors. 674-8: Robert François Damiens attempted to assasinate Louis XV, was tortured and executed as a regicide (1757). 709-44 Lord Howe: composite of John Kenyon (1784-1856), EBB's Jamaican cousin to whom she dedicated AL, and whose dinner party she attended (29 May 1836), with William Wordsworth and Walter Savage Landor; James Scarlett, Lord Abinger (1769-1844), Jamaican opponent to slavery, guardian and friend of Edward Barrett Moulton Barrett; and Henry Fox, Lord Holland (1773-1840), whose second wife the former Lady Webster (1770-1845), was Creole, the couple giving brilliant social gatherings at Holland House. EBB and RB, at the time that AL was being written, attended gathering of Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, including Julia Margaret Cameron, the photographer, at Little Holland House, home of G.F. Watts. 747-68: Hamlet II.ii, III.ii. 769-91: King Lear. 939-40: Plato, 'Socrates to Agathon', lyric in Greek anthology. 990 Hydra-skin cast off: tangential reference to Lady Waldemar as Lamia, the snake woman figure, projected here upon innocent Marian Erle; Hydra was the many-headed serpent overcome by Hercules, who then dipped his arrows in its gall, causing them to inflict incurable, mortal wounds. See also AL I.157, 161-3. 1018-21: journeying from Italy, EBB lost her box containing AL's manuscript and Pen's fancy clothing, she was distressed about the latter and sent her brother to search for the box, who found it in a Marseilles customs house. 1118-23: EBB and RB visited Vaucluse (1846), sacred to Petrarch and Laura de Sade, Flush baptizing himself in the fountain's waters, EBB said, in Petrarch's name; see also AL I.446-55, where Aurora embroiders a shepherdess analogizing herself domestically to the tragedean Aeschylus. 1150-55 gyres: concepts from Giambattista Vico, Scienza Nuova (1725-30); Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). 1183-4 social Sphinx: Sophocles, Oedipus Rex, lines 130-31, 391-8, 1525. 1185 crystal heavens: ancients and Milton (who knew Galileo) believed the heavens consisted of seven crystal spheres, one for each planet, the earth at the centre. 1218-21 fly: King Lear IV.i.36-7; see also refrain of 'Wine of Cyprus'.

Fifth Book

This book begins with Aurora/EBB presenting a Defence of Poetry, arguing for her own modern epic poem and against Victorian medievalism. Her heroine attends a dinner party at Lord Howe's, writes to Romney concerning Lady Waldemar and Marian, then departs for Italy after packing up her father's books for sale to fund her journey.

V.30 theurgic: God-stirred. 51 saint's blood: blood of St Januarius in Naples said to liquify on his commemorative day. 75 'Let no one be called happy till his death': Aeschylus, Agamemnon, lines 928-30; Sophocles, Oedipus Rex, interpolated lines 1528-30. 105-12 chrisms: Lazarus and Mary Magdalen, John 11.1-44, 12.1-8. 113 Panomphaean Joves: all-oracle Jove. 139 epics have died out: EBB had herself written The Battle of Marathon in the manner of Homer and Pope before she was twelve. She reviewed Richard Hengist Horne's epic poem Orion for the Athenaeaum (24 June 1843); see her footnote to The Cry of the Children, line 116. 142-54 Richard Payne claimed the Elgin marbles were Roman, from Hadrian's era, and worthless; Benjamin Haydon, EBB's friend, argued in their favour as from Periclean Parthenon. 149: Iliad VI.466-502; see also AL VIII.473-4. 190-212 moat and drawbridge: EBB speaks against Victorian medievalism in the writings of Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-92, appointed Poet Laureate, 1850), and even RB. 199-202 poets . . . represent the age: William Hazlitt's Spirit of the Age (1825), echoed in Richard Hengist Horne's A New Spirit of the Age (1844), for which EBB wrote and which included entries on Lord Ashley, Tennyson, RB and EBB. 212-21: EBB knew that in Hebrew one name for God is 'El-Shaddai', 'breasted one'. 228-34 Five acts: Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale, versus Sir Philip Sidney, The Defence of Poesie. 239-41 Jacob's white-peeled rods: Genesis 30.37-42. 249 wigless Hamlet: when EBB heard Richard Hengist Horne was bald she was disenchanted, commenting that a bald Hamlet was unthinkable. 266-342: EBB's drama criticism in connection with RB's plays and his attempts to have them be produced. 286-8 King Sauls' father's asses: 1 Samuel 9.3-10, 14. 291-6: Aeschylus and tortoise; see note to AL I.454-5. 315 Imogen and Juliet: heroines in Shakespeare's Cymbeline and Romeo and Juliet. 318-24: Greek drama originated in sacrifice of goats to Bacchus. 325 Themis' son: Prometheus of Aeschylus' play, which EBB translated (1833). Themis also mothered Seasons and Fates. 333-42 stage the soul; see EBB, 'The Seraphim' (1838), 'Drama of Exile' (1844), 'Psyche Apocalypté' (1877). 360-63 St Preux . . . Julie's drooping eyelid: Saint Preux and Julie are the tutor and the pupil who become lovers in Jean Jacques Rousseau's epistolary romance, La Nouvelle Héloise (1760), modelled on The Letters of Abelard and Heloise (1132-44). 387 rhymes among the stars: Dante, Commedia, terza rima, canticles' conclusions with word 'stelle', 'stars'; see also AL VII.314-15. 399-419: EBB on RB criticizing women's books and women's sonnets; allusions are to Ovid, Metamorphoses X,V; tales of Pygmalion in love with his sculpture, and of Apollo's slaughter of Niobe's many children; EBB goes on to speak of fathers and children, obliquely discussing her own father's relation to his twelve children, of whom she was the eldest, ending with Dante's horrific tale of Ugolino. 446-55 some page of ours: 'Sonnets from the Portuguese'. 455-73 your father: EBB remembering her father's earlier kindnesses. 482-5 heritage of many corn-fields: Genesis 25.29-34. 492-6 Ugolino: Dante, Inferno XXXII.125-XXXIII.78; EBB and RB in Pisa on their honeymoon saw the prison where Ugolino died from starvation after having eaten the bodies of his sons imprisoned with him. 504-7 Graham: Robert Browning. 508-10, 517-23. Belmore: Alfred Tennyson; cedarn poems: Tennyson's 'Oenone' (1833 1842) translates Ovid's Heroides' tale of Paris cutting his ship from cedar to sail from the abandoned Oenone to attain Helen and commence the Trojan War; EBB also speaking of Tennyson's cedarn pencils that write the poem. She told Kenyon and wrote in A New Spirit of the Age of the excellence of Tennyson's 'Oenone'. EBB here recalls the 1833 edition: in the 1842 version Tennyson gives Ovid's cedars as pines. 510-15, 523-33 Mark Gage: John Ruskin? 533-8 Graham's wife and son, EBB herself and their child, Pen Browning. These sketches of poets are similar to those in EBB's 'A Vision of Poets' (1844), 'Lady Geraldine's Courtship, lines 160-67. 558-9 Sparrows five: Luke 12.6. 604 Leeds mesmerist: mesmerism and spiritualism, partly believed in by EBB, would become an obsession with her when scorned by RB. 605 lecturer from 'the States': Margaret Fuller? 611 One: capitalization repeated AL V.1108, yet Lady Waldemar is no Christ. 631-2: Sir Blaise Delorme either Roman Catholic or, more likely, Anglo-Catholic; E.B. Pusey, John Keble, Richard Hurrell Froude and John Henry Newman's Oxford Movement Anglo-Catholic Tracts for the Times (1833-41) sought to return Church of England to Pre-Reformation medieval foundations. 662-4 neither sews nor spins: Matthew 6.28; Shakespeare, Sonnet XCIV.14, 'Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds'; see also AL V.790-93, which reflects Margaret Fuller, as in Hawthorne's Zenobia, The Blithedale Romance (1852). 676 saintly styrian monk: plump Austrian monk combined with St Simon Stylites, an ascetic who lived on top of a column in Syria; later editions have cross be 'ebon', not golden. 682-3 St Lucy: represented as holding her plucked-out eyes on a plate, to repel her would-be lover. 718: pages 207-8 are transposed in Robert Taylor Collection, Princeton University Library, AL bound revises. 720-93: famed phalanstery . . . christianised from Fourier's own: Fourier's communities had orchards planted in phalanxes hence 'phalanstery' and practised Free Love; Lady Waldemar here enacts role of an English Margaret Fuller at an English Brook Farm; see also
AL II.482, III.108, 583-4, V.720-28, IX.868-9. 798 A Pallas in the Vatican: this statue has Athena stand with spear, helmeted, snake coiled at her feet. George Eliot similarly has Dorothea Brooke in Middlemarch (1871-2) gaze at a Cleopatra in the Vatican who is to kill herself with an asp - and in turn be gazed at by two men. 820 Anna Jameson visited and wrote about the Chipewa in Canada. 822 Queen Pomare IV (1813-77) of Tahiti: Emperor Faustin I Soulouque (c. 1782-1867, former slave, President (1847), then self-declared Emperor of Haiti (1849). 836 transatlantic girl: Margaret Fuller, correspondent to the New York Tribune, later will be Kate Field, correspondent to the Atlantic Monthly, both EBB's friends in Italy. 897-908 Ann Blyth, Pauline: EBB here playfully alludes to RB's previous loves, RB having published Pauline anonymously at twenty (1833). 910-12: the sacred bull of Egypt, Apis, represented the god Osiris who was consulted as an oracle in the form: for EBB a type of the false worshipping by the Israelites of the Golden Calf in Exodus. 916-17 dropped star: called 'Wormwood', Revelation 8.10-11. 923-5 tare runs through . . . garnered sheaves: scarlet poppy amidst golden ears of wheat, Matthew 13.25-30; Ruth 2. 939-42: oracle at Delphi, dedicated to Apollo, had prophetess sit on golden tripod. 1001-4 last book: poems by the Brownings were so read at Brook Farm's phalanstery in the States. 1078-80: Hamlet V.ii.276-343, union or pearl dissolved in wine. 1095 woodland sister, sweet maid Marian: Marian's name evokes legend of social justice, of Robin Hood and Maid Marian. 1099-104: Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (1847), published pseudonymously as by Ellis Bell. 1108 that Third: when capitalized refers usually to Christ at Emmaus, Luke 24.13-35; here it is to the Lamia figure of the poem, Lady Waldemar; see also AL V.611. 1114-15 Pan: see 'The Dead Pan', 'Flush or Faunus', 'A Musical Instrument' 1135 drew my desk and wrote: EBB had such a lap desk at Casa Guidi. 1217 Elzevirs: books published by Elzevir family in Amsterdam, Leyden (1583-1680), especially Greek classic texts. 1221-2 conferenda haec cum his: 'this compared with that', scholar's Latin marginal notation to a Greek text; Corruptè citat: 'corruptly cited'; lege potius: 'better read'. EBB saw and used such notations in collections of Greek scholars, Sir Uvedale Price (1747-1829) and blind Hugh Stuart Boyd (1781-1848). 1227 Proclus: fifth-century Byzantine Neoplatonist who defended paganism against Christianity, wrote commentary on Euclid, another on Plato, seeking to prove world was eternal. 1245 kissing Judas: Luke 22.47-8; Wolff: Friedrich Wolf, professor at Halle, classical philologist, argued for multiple authorship of Homer, Prolegomena in Homerum (1795); EBB misspells his name. 1248 house of nobody: Odyssey IX. 1251: Homer's spondaic hexameter, of six feet, fifth foot having two long spondaic syllables.

Sixth Book

On her way to Italy Aurora stops in the Paris of George Sand (whom EBB and RB met, 1852), where she finds Marian and her child. Aurora first objects unjustly to the child's illegitimacy, then listens again to Marian's unfolding Odyssean tale within a tale as the two women bend over a 'rosier flushed Pomegranate'. EBB here borrows the strategy used by Dante and other medieval poets who cast themselves as blameworthy scapegoats within their texts in order to convert their readers from the errors they themselves seem to enact.

VI.66-75 democracy: French plebiscite made Napoleon III Emperor with eight million votes (1852). 109-13 Tuileries: Empress Eugènie (1826-1920) was not descended from royalty, unlike previous queens reflected in palace's mirrors, but she was more beautiful. 128-30 Napoleon I (1769-1821) first buried on St Helena (1821), then in mausoleum of Les Invalides, guarded by twelve allegorical victories (1840, monument completed 1861); this veterans' hospital church has a clearly visible dome. 130-31 Shall/ These dry bones live?: Ezekiel 37.3. 131 Louis Philippe: (1773-1850), deposed in 1848 Revolution, succeeded by Napoleon III (1808-73). 167 Thessaly: region of witches in Apuleius, Metamorphoses I. 171-6 osteologists: copnsulted in EBB's case for her spinal deformity and pain from childhood tuberculosis. 213 washing seven times: 2 Kings 5.1-14. 231-41 dead face: EBB uses drowning imagery for the recognition scene with Marian, which recalls the deaths by drowning of Edward Barrett Moulton Barrett and Margaret Fuller. Manuscript draft here erratic and heavily revised. 263 Institute: the Institute de France, created by French Revolution, fostered by Napoleon I and III. 269 button-hole with honourable red: emblem of member of Légion d'Honneur. 171: Alexandre Dumas, son of black author of The Count of Monte Cristo (1844), himself author of La Dame aux camélies (novel, 1848, play, 1852). 299-300 too rough: Shakespeare, Sonnet XVIII.3. 307-10 floats up: Hawthorne similarly wrote of Margaret Fuller's drowing with Zenobia, The Blithedale Romance (1852). 367 arras: Hamlet III.iv. 514-17: imagery of goats and Bacchus, associated with tragedy and with Margaret Fuller's baby, nursed by a goat on board the ship Elizabeth, then drowning with both his parents (1850). 521-5 hawk: falcon image, see also AL II.119-22, VIII.22. 564-5 rosier flushed Pomegranate: EBB is speaking of her own child and RB's, and of his poems, Bells and Pomegranates (1841-6), and of her reference to them in 'Lady Geralndine's Courtship' (1844), which had prompted their courtship (1845), marriage (1845), and parenthood (1849). Pomegranate in the Persephone legend symbolized life and death; bells and pomegranates were embroidered on the High Priest Aaron's robe when he served in the Temple, Exodus 28,39; RB was part Jewish, though denied it. 585 angelhood: Margaret fuller's child was named Angelo after his father, the roman Marchese Angelo Ossoli, this baby in the poem being a composite of Margaret's child and of EBB's. 611-770 Aurora's initial prejudice against Marian Erle portrays EBB's initial response to Margaret Fuller. EBB also disapproved of George Eliot for living out of wedlock and dismissed and never forgave Elizabeth Wilson for having two babies, Orests and Pylades, when in her service, though Wilson was married. 620 brazen altar-bars: Jewish Temple's brass altar used fro sacrificing lambs and doves in place of children, Exodus 38.30; Ezekiel 9.2. 712-14 new Jerusalem: Revelation 21.2. 719-20 bids us go higher: Luke 14.19. 1043-7: The Winter's Tale IV.iv.79-103. 1175 swine's road: Christ cast out devils into a herd of Gadarene swine who rushed headlong over a precipice into the Sea of Galilee, Matthew 8.28-34; Mark 5.1-19; Luke 8.26-39. 1197, 1201 stinks since Friday: Lazarus, but not Christ, John 11.39. 1272-3 stone upon my sepulchre: stone on Christ's sepulchre rolled away by Angels before Mary Magdalen approached it, Matthew 28.2; Mark 16.3-4; Luke 24.1-5, 22-4, John 20-1.

Seventh Book

Marian's narration of her rape and resulting pregnancy continues. It is told in the manner of a George Sand novel, with a French setting. Aurora offers to take Marian and her child on to Italy and Marian accepts. Letters to and from England concerning Romney do not reach their destination. Aurora describes Florence.

VII.47-66 EBB herself did not realize she was pregnant until her miscarriage at Pisa, when she was writing The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point (1847). 108-13: early medieval iconography showed the Virgin spinning purple threat for the Temple's veil as her Child was woven in flesh within her womb. 147,179 Lamia: Keats' 'Lamia'; see also AL I.161. 224-7: gender reversal of Cervantes, Don Quixote. George Eliot's heroine Dorothea, Middlemarch (1871-2) is such a Donna. 261-4: an elm was hit by lightning at Hope End when EBB was a child, killing the young couple sheltering beneath it. 266-8 Hermes, son of Zeus and Maia, a few hours after his birth, left his cradle and stole Apollo's oxen, disguising his feet, then found a tortoise shell from which he constructed the first lyre, which so charmed the angered Apollo that he gave Hermes the cattle. 307-9 tares and wheat: Matthew 13.25-30. 343 poisonous porridge: Genesis 25.28-34. 350 ox and ass: Deuteronomy 22.10. 418 Dijon, Lyons: describes the journey south along Rhone river that the Brownings themselves took several times from Italy. 470 dull Odyssean ghosts: Odyssey VI.13-635. 485 EBB continues to describe her own journeyings; Genoa: associated with Shelley's drowing (1822) and with Byron, to be used by George Eliot for drowning of Gwendolen's husband, Grandcourt, Daniel Deronda (1874-6). 486 Doria: Genoa's princely dynasty. 515-41 Bellosguardo: 'beautiful view', landscape seen from it of Florence, the Arno river, Fiesole and Vallombrosa, is rich with associations from Dante and Milton, Milton visited there to look through Galileo's telescope, then described what he saw in a simile for Satan's epic shield, Paradise Lost, I.287-91; became home of Isa Blagden and Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hawthorne using it for The Marble Faun's Monte Beni.

John Brett, 'Aurora Leigh'

566 od-force: Harriet Martineau (1802-76) introduced EBB to theories proposed by Baron Carl von Reichenbach (1788-1869) concerning light and electricity. 576-622 Kate Ward: is modelling herself upon Aurora, has asked her for the pattern of her cloak, AL III.53-60, to win Vincent Carrington. The canvases described here are those those of Benjamin Haydon that they are those of Richard Rothwell, the Irish painter who died in Rome (1868), and who had painted Ovidian scenes and portraits, including Mary Shelley's in the National Portrait Gallery. 586 Danae: Ovid, Metamorphoses IV; see also AL III.122. 607 book folded in her . . . hands: portrait of RB's grandmother with Thomson's The Seasons in her hands; see also AL I.127, III.122; EBB's last book: Casa Guidi Windows, I.73-4, spoke of Michelangelo's Medici Tomb sculpture of Aurora, as both Dawn and Spring, Italy's Risorgimento ('mulcted of the Spring'). 631 voluble with lead: old clocks had their chimes weighted with lead. 634: field [of Cloth] of gold, see note to AL IV.539. 666-7 Love/ And Psyche: Apuleius, Metamorphoses IV-VI; sculpture on exhibit in the Uffizi, painted by Johann Zoffany


Canova, Cupid and Psyche, Louvre             Johann Zoffany, Amore and Psyche, Tribuna, Uffizi

Here Elizabeth describes Casa Guidi rather than Bellosguardo, and, with the statue imagined as on the console, she remembers her translation of Apuleius, Metamorphoses IV. Giorgio Mignaty's painting of Casa Guidi for Robert Browning at EBB's death.

669 vase of lilies: used in Florentine art for the Annunciation to the Virgin. Margaret Fuller's son, Angelo Eugenio Filippo Ossoli (born 5 September 1848) was close in age to EBB's own child by Robert, Pen, or more fully, Robert Wiedemann Barrett Browning (born 9 March 1849). They were like Elizabeth's John the Baptist and Mary's Jesus (Luke 1-2). EBB endows the descriptions of Marian and her child in AL with Florentine Holy Family iconography; similarly Julia Margaret Cameron's photographs of her Victroian acquaintances can portray them as Pre-Raphaelite Madonnas and children. EBB's friend, Anna Jameson, like Ruskin, was a scholar of Italian iconography. 679 nepenth: Helen gives this drug to her guests to remove their sorrows, Odyssey IV.220-32. 746: Plato, Phaedon, dialogue on the death of Socrates. 787 Antinous: Emperor Hadrian loved this beautiful androgynous youth who died young, sculpture of him and Cupid and Psyche in Uffizi. 809-10 said a poet of our day: RB, Pippa Passes (1841), lines 190-201. 822 every common bush afire with God: Edoxus 3.2-6; see also AL I.58. 887 digamma: obsolete Greek letter. 917 Samminiato: church and hill town just above Flolrence, dedicated to San Miniato, an early martyr. 

Detail of Lord Leighton's Cimabue's Madonna borne through Borgo Allegri showing San Miniato, painted when he was 24. He was to illustrate EBB's 'A Musical Instrument' and to design her tomb.

942: the immortal gods had ichor, not blood, in their veins, Iliad V.340. 942-57: EBB's Pen waking up his mother and Elizabeth Wilson, EBB's maid who followed her into exile from Malvern and London. 986 Alaric: Gothic conqueror of Rome, buried in river bed of Busentius, Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-88). 1035 the way, the truth, the life: John 14.6. 1100-102 gulph: Dives and Lazarus, Luke 10.19-31, esp 26. 1169 Lucca: the hill town Bagni di Lucca where the Brownings, Hawthornes and Walter Savage Landor stayed, visited previously by Montaigne and Byron. 1255 Benigna sis: 'Be thou kind'. 1261 young ravens when they cry: Job 38.41; Psalms 147.9; Luke 12.24. 1278: church of the Santissima Annunziata; see also AL I.77, where Aurora's father first sees her mother.

Engraving of Miracle of Blind Girl Recovering her Sight at Santissima Annunziata at the altar with 'argent angels'

bells upon my robe: High Priest Aaron's ephod worn in Temple, embroidered with pomegranates, hung about with bells, Exodus 39.24-6; RB's Bells and Pomegranates (1841-6); RB to EBB (18 October 1845), 'The Rabbis make Bells and Pomegranates symbolical of Pleasure and Profit, the gay and the grave, the Poetry and the Prose, Singing and Sermonizing'. 1308-10 oenomel: wine and honey, here obliquely also laudanum, or tincture of opium (which had been invented by Paracelsus, 1493-1541, of whom RB wrote in Paracelsus, 1855), and to which EBB was addicted from childhood; see also EBB, 'Wine of Cyprus', line 172.

Eighth Book

Aurora is reading Boccaccio's Decamerona while Marian and her child are at play at Bellosguardo. Then romney comes. She fails to realize he is now physically blind. Like Penelope and Odysseus they talk all night, discussing social issues and art (Odyssey XIII.344-9 has Athena at last rouse Dawn from Oceanus to end the night-long dialogue.) Romney tells Aurora that his phalanstery at Leigh Hall has gone up in flames and that he was injured by Marian's father as he carried out the picture of Aurora's ancestor, the Lady Maud. This book is influenced by Homer's Odyssey, Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus, Dante's Commedia, Boccaccio's Decameron, Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Milton and his Samson Agonistes and (though EBB did not consciously realize this) Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre (1847).

VIII.21-3 Boccaccio's tales, The Falcon's: of Sir Federigo, the ninth tale, fifth day, to be retold by Tennyson in the drama The Falcon (1884); EBB to RB, 20 March 1845, 'I am so very fond of romances; yes! . . . I am one who could have forgotten the plague, listening to Boccaccio's stories; and I am not ashamed of it', while he was scornful of women's books. See also AL II.119-22, VI.521-5. 29 sevenfold heavens: Dante, Paradiso, medieval astronomy believing that seven spheres one for each planet, one of which was the sun, another the moon, encircled the earth at the centre of the cosmos. 44 duomo-bell: massive bell of the Duomo, the Cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, which hangs in separate bell tower, built by Giotto, Florence.

45 ten: see note to AL I.239-40; ten fathoms down: echoes and deepens 'Full fathom five thy father lies', The Tempest I.ii.397. 46-7 fifty: later editions corrected to twenty by RB, but Florentine bells include not only those of public churches but also those of numerous convents. 50-58 Dominican church of Santa Maria Novella's Place, spoken of as Michelangelo's Bride; its square has stone obelisks with tortoises as bases; see also AL III.602. RB later corrects to four tortoises on each base. Boccaccio's Decameron story-tellers first meet in this church in plague-tide; see also Casa Guidi Windows I.321-73.

Colonel Goff, Santa Maria Novella

60-62 sea-king: sea imagery, through use of The Tempest, evokes EBB's father, brother and husband. In the Houghton Library, Harvard, AL manuscript, where these words originally ended the Seventh Book, RB noted 'Read this Book, this divine Book, Wednesday night July 9th, 56. R.B. 39 Devonshire Place', where Brownings stayed while seeing AL through the press, RB only being privileged to read the poem in its penultimate version. 83-4 EBB's couch upon which she wrote AL; it can be seen in the Mignaty painting of the Casa Guidi drawing room that RB commissioned at EBB's death, and in a later engraving of RB's study in London. 133-5 eyes: see 'Caterine to Camoens'. 170-74 Greek king . . . from a taken Troy: Aeschylus, Agamemnon, lines 914-1033. 304-5: Michelangelo's Medici Tomb sculptures of morning and night: Aurora is Morning, Dawn; Romney, with his not-yet-revealed blindness, Dusk, Evening, Night.

314-5 stars: so Dante ends each canticle of the Florentine Commedia; see also AL V.387. 334-5 Miriam: Exodus 15.20-21; see also AL I.87, II.170-71, III.203, VIII.1021-2; Casa Guidi Windows, I.314. 348 Aurora Leigh is now thirty, they remember her birthday in Shropshire ten years earlier; her London apprenticeship was of seven years' duration; Marian's child, learning to talk, is about two, age of EBB's and Margaret Fuller's sons; in real life EBB and Margaret were in their forties when their children were born. 388 Phalarian bull: Sicilian tyrant had brazen bull made, used it first to torture its inventor, then his subjects revolted, torturing him with it. 395-418 Romney speaks of the Hungry Forties, when crops failed throughout Europe, potato blight causing the Great Famine in Ireland. 429-30 individualism . . . universal: Dante wrote, 'Half-way through the road of our life, I found myself again in a dark wood', as Dante Alighieri the individual, and as universal Everyman, EBB translating these lines in Dante first as a child and later as an adult; see manuscripts at Baylor University's Armstrong Browning Library. 473-4 hero's casque: doomed Hector's plumed helm frightening his small son, Astyanax, Iliad VI.466-502; see also AL V.149. 477 Sanscrit: ancient sacred Indian script, echoing AL II.817, 834 reference to Chaldean letters. 507-19: EBB's spaniel, Flush, compared to Ulysses' dog, Argos, Odyssey XVII.290-327. 568 upon my forehead: the High Priest wore a plate of gold, inscribed 'HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD', tied to his brow with a blue lace, Exodus 28.36-8; Zachariah 14.20-21. 631, 746 Adam's corn: wheat and other European grains, not Indian maize. 632 Noah's wine: Genesis 9.20-27. 645-55: Papal elections in Sistine Chapel indicated by smoke rising from burnt ballots. 734-41: Diderot's Encyclopedia published such manufacturing methods with text and engravings. 783 softly: Othello V.ii.334. 789 empty hand thrown impotently out: Othello V.ii.342-4: EBB remembers Shakespeare's plays but does not check their texts. 795-6 prophet beats the ass: Balaam and the ass, Numbers. 22.21-34. 833-42 statue: Harriet Hosmer, sculptor, most famous for her Clasped Hands of the poets EBB and RB. 842-3 cures the plague: Jessie White Mario, doctor, friend and biographer of Garibaldi, impassioned about social issues and Italian Risorgimento. 844-5 rights a land's finances: Harriet Martineau (1802-76), wrote on political economy, explaining David Ricardo, which influenced Parliament; all three gifted women were EBB's acquaintances. 900 'last tracts' but twelve: Oxford Movement Tractarians; see also AL I.394-5. 922 as a baby drugged: in Industrial Revolution factories hired women as they were cheaper than men, the women having to drug their babies with opiates to keep them from crying while they were gone: the use of drugs was also common among West Indian slave-owners, particularly women. 949 Vandyke: Anthony Van Dyke, dutch artist, painted portraits of Charles I and cavalier aristocracy; see also AL IV.309. 955 Lady Maud: Aurora Leigh has inherited her ancrestress' features and therefore Romney saves the portrait, double reference to Wright of Derby's portrait of RB's grandmother, and Sir Thomas Lawrence's portrait (1795) of 'Pinkie', EBB's aunt (her father's sister).who was brought to England from Jamaica and who died young from tuberculosis. 1020 burnt the viol: inverse of Nero fiddling while Rome burnt. 1021-2 dance . . . to cymbals: Miriam danced so after the Israelites were freed from Egyptian lsavery, Exodus 15.20-21; see also AL I.87, II.170-171, III.203; Casa Guidi Windows I.314. 1024 sun is silent: Dante, Inferno I.60; EBB translated opening, Inferno I, twice; manuscripts at Baylor University. 1063-6: Romney as Christ the Good Shepherd. 1113-7 Casa Guidi Windows I.149-44; the sculpture here seems to be of the Uffizi Cupid and Psyche. 1136-8 cup at supper: Last Supper, Crucifixion, Luke 22.11-20, 42; John 19.28-9. 1144-5 Moses' bulrush-boat: (actually papyrus) Exodus 2.3. 1220-22 regent brows . . . garland: coronation of Madame de Staël's Corinne on the Capitol; see also AL I.981, II.33.53.

Ninth Book

Aurora reads Lady Waldemar's envy-filled letter, at last comes to learn of Romney's blindess (which EBB borrowed unconsciously from Rochester's blindness in Currer Bell/Charlotte Bront
ë, Jane Eyre, 1847). Romney proposes to Marian, who rejects his pseudo-paternity of her child. Aurora and Romney above Florence recite from the Apocalypse, concerning the heavenly Jerusalem. The epic AL begins and ends with the Bible, first with Ecclesiastes 12.12, and last with Revelations 21, while encompassing classical and modern literature, and England, America, France and Italy within its nine books.

IX.77-8 to love . . . not wisely: Othello V.ii.340. 103 St Sophia's dome: of Byzantine Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, later made an Islamic mosque, but originally dedicated to Holy Wisdom, the continuation in the Greek Christian world of the pagan Greek worship of Pallas Athena, goddess of wisdom. 119 He'd wash his hands: Matthew 27.24. 137 To live and have his being: Paul speaking on the Areopagus in Athens, quoting pagan philosphy, Acts 17.28. 150 Electra recognizes her brother, Orestes, from their matching hair and footprint, Aeschylus, Choephoroi, lines 167-211; see also 'Sonnets from the Portuguese' V.2; Elizabeth Wilson called her two sons Orestes and Puylades. 163 droop of eyelid: physical description of Margaret Fuller here given by Lady Waldemar to Aurora Leigh. 253-4 blue as Aaron's priestly robe: Exodus 39.22-31; Numbers 20.25-6; Jerome wrote an Epistle to the twice-wed Fabiola at her request on Aaron's garb, emphasizing the blue of the priestly robe. 277-8 spaniel head/ With all its . . . curls: description of Marian Erle is of EBB, whom Flush resembled. 553-5 boar . . . notched me with his tooth: Odyssey XIX.428-66; Apuleius, Metamorphoses VIII.5; Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis, in which heroes are injured or killed by boars goring them with their tusks in the thigh, a euphemism for castration. 576-81 Unspotted in their crystals: Milton's blindness, Paradise Lost III.23-6; EBB's Greek tutor, Hugh Boyd, was blind; see 'Wine of Cyprus' and sonnets 'Hugh Stuart Boyd: His Blindness' and 'Hugh Stuart Boyd: Legacies'. EBB is also playing with Romney/Robert as Michelangelo's sculptures of Dusk to her Dawn as Aurora on the tomb of Lorenzo de' Medici, Dusk's features being similar to RB's. 651-2 a handful of the earth/ To make God's image!: Genesis 1.26, 2-7. 702-3 Cloud . . . the wilderness: Exodus 13.21. 813 The morning and the evening made his day: 'And there was evening and there was morning, the first day', Genesis 1.5, EBB clearly recalling the Hebrew of that verse, and the Michelangelo Medici Tomb sculpture of Dawn and Dusk; see also AL V.148-60. 840 audient circles: music of the spheres, each planet emitting a musical note, all together playing the chord of the octave from Pythagoras, Milton. 845 Selah: EBB, 'Essay on Mind' (1826), line 1229; used seventy times in Psalms, twice in Habbakuk, to indicate a pause in the music. 847 moon-bathed promontory: Jessica and Lorenzo, The Merchant of Venice V.i.1-126. 868-9 Fourier's void/ And Comte is dwarfed, - and Cabet, puerile: Comte (1798-1853) was a friend of Fourier. Cabet (1788-1856), influenced by the socialism of Robert Owen, wrote Voyage en Icarie and attempted to found an Icarian commune at Nauvoo on the Mississippi. For Fourier see also AL II.482, III.108, 583-4, V.720-28, 782-93. 885 Sharon: Song of Solomon 2.1, rose image, Dante, Paradiso XXXI. 932 And blow all class-walls level as Jericho's: Joshua 6.1-20. EBB, by giving aristocratic Romney Leigh gypsy names and suggesting a title with that for low-born gypsy Marian Erle, has shattered all class walls, as she does those of gender with her classical similes' reversals. 962-4 Jasper . . . sapphire . . . chalcedony: as they look over Florence from Galileo's and Milton's Bellosguardo they prophetically see the city of the Apocalypse, the new Jerusalem, as a bride adorned for her husband, where death, tears and night shall be no more, that city of the soul sought by both poets and utiopians, Revelation 21.1-20. The same stones are also given as on Aaron's breastplate, Exodus 28.17-20, in the chapter discussing the bells and pomegranates on his robe.

Colonel  Goff, Water Colour of Florence, Prior to 1905

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