William Morris Archive

Prepared by David Latham

1 Oho! Oho!] A Greek settler (of a community of ancient Greeks who settled an island in the western Atlantic some centuries ago) greets the Norse Wanderers who will identify themselves as Vikings in search of the Earthly Paradise their captain Nicolas had dreamed about. The Greek settlers do not speak again until identified as “People of the Shore” (line 2458.1).

8 gilded mail] Armoured coat of golden chains worn by medieval knights.

20 Lion with the Golden Axe] The Norse coat of arms is flown from the mast. Compare the dream of becoming a lion, each lion with a great axe held in its paw (58-62).

21-24 Fighting Man ... Rose Garland.] Of the five named ships the Wanderers had set sail in, only the Rose Garland has arrived to the shores of this island.

34 florin] Medieval coins, originating in Florence.

34 perdie] Verily, truly.

35 rood] A legal measurement for land, equivalent to one quarter of an acre.

37 slip ’twixt lip and cup] So much can go wrong no matter how close the effort appears to be completed.

49 “Have no fear] Rafe, the narrator, now quotes his captain, Nicholas, who tells his dream.

63 mazed] Confused or amazed.

75 Diana, burd-alone] As goddess of the moon and virgin goddess of the hunt, Diana is depicted as a solitary maiden (‘burd-alone’); in The Water of the Wondrous Isles (1897), Morris named his strongest heroine Birdalone.

77 Jupiter] The Roman ruler of all the gods.

79 Pallas] Pallas Athena is the goddess of wisdom and the arts, thus her “book of lore.”

81] Ruler of the Sea] The Roman god Neptune; the Greek god Poseidon.

82 Juno] The Roman queen of the gods, partner of Jupiter.

83 Bacchus] The Roman god of wine and frenzy.

83 Mercury] The Roman messenger of the gods.

84 Pluto] The Greek god of hell, the underworld.

87 -88 Venus ... dove ... wings] Venus, the Roman goddess of love, is traditionally accompanied by doves and her winged son Cupid.

126 Pygmalion] Morris’s classical tale for August – “Pygmalion and the Image” – tells of the sculptor who prayed to Venus to bring his stone “image of a woman” to life, and “Pygmalion wedded her” (The Earthly Paradise).

155 Olaf and Odin] The Norse gods – Olaf, in red raiment with an axe in hand, and Odin, in blue raiment, one-eyed, with spear in hand (like Arthur’s sword “Excalibur,” Odin’s spear is named “Gungnir”) – are images of wild adventure conjured here, warns the “mass-priest,” by the devil tempting the sailors to evil ends (162-64).

173 Olaf as Odin for the nonce] Olaf can serve as Odin for this single occasion.

230 fain enow] Glad enough.

260 pelf] The pillaged wealth of pirates.

272 fain] Glad.

280 yard-arm] The outer tips of the horizontal spar attached to the vertical mast of a ship.

469 watch and ward] Keeping a careful vigil.

471 sward] Grass turf.

492 forbode] Archaic past tense of forbid.

512 [ ]] May Morris’s brackets for a missing word.

559 The King of England’s Son] A reviewer of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Sand-Hills of Jutland notes that “Anderson alludes to, and gives us some snatches from, a beautiful song called ‘The King of England’s Son.’ He says it is to be found in a collection of ancient Scandinavian ballads know to every Dane under the general title of Kampevisen.” Saturday Review, 18 August 1860: 213.

579 rede] Advice; see also 736.

585 gates of wattle] Gates of woven twigs or branches.

603 royal pall] The sheep-skin cloak is inappropriate for a vestment.

612 undern] Can be mid-morning or sundown, but here it is sundown because they arrived at the clearing at noontide (581-82).

628 Sir John of Hederby] A fictional character named here to personalize the horror of the violent ambush.

648 by my fay] By my faith; a common oath.

743 leal] Loyal.

746-64 Christian shore ... Adam’s sin ... three score ... Hell] Nicholas confesses his Christian fears to Rafe: having left their old world of and set sail for a new heavenly world, he now longs to reach “some Christian shore” (746) rather than repeat “Adam’s sin To make us gods who are but men ... Whose years are but three score and ten” (753-56). He fears thier search for immortal godhood will lead them straight to Hell: “And without dying come to Hell” (764).

770 [ ]] May Morris’s brackets for a missing word.

781 tilts] The horseback sport of jousting with lances.

812 Cucullus non facit monachum] The cowl does not make the monk (we cannot judge by the surface appearance).

843 withy] Flexible willow stems good for weaving and binding.

855 threescore rusty folk, and ten] The crew of “two hundred ... brave” Vikings is now reduced to “threescore rusty folk, and ten,” foregrounding the feared folly of sailing to escape the age limit of mortals cited earlier (756).

907 ness] A cape projecting over the sea.

928 dight] Prepared.

932 copes] Cloaks usually worn over the shoulders by priests; see similar example, 967.

937 Moloch’s sacrifice] Newborn children were burned as sacrifices to appease Moloch, a Hebrew pagan god.

1030 haft] Decorated handle of the axe.

1037 soothly] Truly, verily.

1039 liefer] Willing.

1044 shent] Destroyed, killed.

1048 maws] Hungry mouths.

1062 erst] Long ago.

1062 Micklegarth] Old Norse name for Constantinople, the “big city” of the Byzantine Empire.

1068 dromond] Swift sailing ship. Compare with “to-night weighs a dromond / Sailing west away first, and then to southbanks” (Morris, Love Is Enough 1873).

1079 by Diana’s Head] An oath asserting their power. A head taller than her nymphs when they surrounded her to hide her from Actaeon’s eyes, Diana destroyed Actaeon for gazing upon her.

1081 we came] [folio 1 recto a1]; they came, CW

1082 case] case, CW

1083 fame] fame, CW

1084 race] race, CW

1085 Sirs] “Sirs, CW

1085 ladies ... be] Ladies’ Land we be,” CW

1086 said and] said, “and CW

1088 yoke] yoke. CW

1089 speak] [folio 1 verso a1]; speak, CW

1090 fame] fame, CW

1091 Greek] ‘Greek’ CW

1092 name] name. CW

1093 was] ‘was,’ CW

1094 base] base, CW

1095 folk alas] folk, alas! CW

1096 bitter case] evil case: CW

1097 he] [folio 2 recto a1] we CW

1098 Emperor] Emperor, CW

1099 must ... year] these beasts must slay CW

1101 Hercules] Renowned since an infant for his feats of strength, the son of Zeus completed the Twelve Labours (slaying monsters, stealing guarded gold-apples).

1127 Diana] Worshipped by women, Diana was the goddess of the moon, the open country, the chase, and childbirth; see 75, 1079.

1127 snooded] Hair drawn back, capped in a woven net.

1174 wot] Knows.

1184 girt] Belted.

1188 head of neat] Not a herd, but a number of cattle, likely calves at play.

1199 upon the spur] In haste, as a rider would spur one’s horse.

1246 boon] Requested favour.

1256 guerdon] Reward.

1261 Harold fair hair] Renowned as the first king of Norway, Harold Fairhair is celebrated in Heimskingla, translated by Morris and Eiríkr Magnússon in volumes three to six for the six volumes of their Saga Library (London: Quaritch, 1891-1905).

1262 Odin] The one-eyed Odin in Norse mythology is the supreme god of war, art, and wisdom; see 156.]

1263 skalds] Poets; the oral narrators of Old Norse history and mythology.

1294 Mother of God and all Hallows] Mary and the holy saints.

1307 weal] Wellness in terms of happy prosperity.

1361 Philomela] Raped and mutilated by her sister’s husband, the Thracian King Tereus, Philomela helped her sister feed him his son but escaped death when the gods turned her into a songless swallow and her sister into a nightingale.]

1369 Theseus] Morris had intended to include “The Story of Theseus” in The Earthly Paradise, citing it twice in advertisements for the forthcoming poem, first in The Life and Death of Jason (1867) and again in volume 1 of The Earthly Paradise (1868).

1372 Perseus] Morris tells the story of Perseus in “The Doom of King Acrisius,” the “Classical Tale for April,” in The Earthly Paradise.

1376 Jason] Morris had intended “The Deeds of Jason” to be a tale for The Earthly Paradise until it grew too long and he published it as The Life and Death of Jason (1867), a year before the first volume of The Earthly Paradise (1868).

1433 by my fay] By my faith; an oath.

1443 drove] Literally a herd, usually of cattle, but “drove” here is a degrading metaphor that continues the image of the king’s intention to “yoke young maidens to his plough” (1436) and to burn alive the “naked” drove (1445-46).

1455 tabard] Sleeveless coat worn over a knight’s armour often with the lord’s heraldic arms stitched upon it.

1474 may] Maiden.

1479 hawthorn brake] A thicket of hawthorns; compare Peter Quince’s reference in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “This green plot shall be our stage, this hawthorn- brake our tiring-house” (the back room for actors to dress) III, I, 3-4.

1515 coped] Draped with liturgical cloak over the shoulders.

1515 quire] Archaic word for choir.

1519 vassels] Vassals are serfs (tenants) who farm a plot of land with permission from the feudal lord (“master of the house,” 1520).

1569 gat] Got.

1651 nowise loth] No way loath; no way reluctant.

1682 Endymion] Endymion was loved by the moon-goddess Diana (or the Greek Artemis, Roman Selene), who cast him in immortal sleep so that she can descend each evening to caress him as he dreams.

1685 O Rafe] Sir Rafe is the Norse narrator of the Prologue, named Rolf in the revised Prologue.

1707 boun] Prepared.

1809 rood] Cross; crucifix.

1811 gunwale] Upper side-rim of a ship, here decorated with images of lions.

1842 golden gate] Entrance from our brazen world to the golden realm of paradise.

1848 grapnel] A small four- or five-fluked anchor.

1923 rede] Counsel; advice; here, no other reading of the situation but to get away.

1932 Ghent] The Flemish city in Belgium was a cultural centre of Medieval Europe.

2008 cate] Fancy food; choice delicacies.

2068 shallop] Swift, two-masted boat, with sails and oars for shallow waters.

2116 eld] Old age; the elderly who could not afford to waste time.

2178 guerdon] Reward.

2187 flatlings] Flat surface of swords.

2228 husbandmen] Farmers.

2263 howsers]

2298 leeward] Downwind direction or downwind side of the ship.

2393 Proserpine] Persephone in Roman mythology, queen of Hades, the underworld, daughter of Juno, lives six months in Hell and six months on Earth.

2394 Juno] See 82.

2395 Pallas] See 79.

2399 Diana] See 75, 1079, 1127.

2463 the Mede] Ancient people of Medea whose empire extended over the Middle East until the Persian conquest in 550 BC.

2496 Goddess of the sea] Amphitrite is the Greek goddess who is queen of the sea, the wife of Poseidon; she is named Salacia in Roman mythology, the wife of Neptune.

2499 eld] Old age.

2535-38 Eurydice ... grass] The “green snake in the apple tree” of Eden in biblical mythology is combined here with the poisonous snake in the grass that kills Eurydice in classical mythology. Morris intended “The Story of Orpheus and Eurydice” as a tale for The Earthly Paradise.

2579 Byzant] These Greek islanders would not know that the Greek colonial city of Byzantium would become in the fourth century the centre of the Roman Empire, renamed Constantinople after the Roman Emperor Constantine.

2591 Golden Fleece] Jason and the Argonauts recovered the Golden Fleece, told in a tale Morris was intending for The Earthly Paradise; see 1376.

2592 The Doom of King Acrisius] This is the classical tale told for the month of April in The Earthly Paraadise.

2593 Psyche] “The Story of Cupid and Psyche” is the classical tale told for the month of May in The Earthly Paradise.

2610 wot] Know.