Date 1875-03-27
Publication Academy
Topic WMR review Marston's "All in All: Poems & Sonnets"
AP display
RA display
Subject literature
Keywords volume reviewed
  ↳ Marston
Standards classic poetic constructs and achievement
Notes Cheyne Walk Circle
  ↳ comp. to DGR, Swinburne, Shelley.

Annotation details

75 March 27 Academy


WMR Review of Marston's "All in All, Poems and Sonnets."


Rossetti, William M. "All in All: Poems and Sonnets." Academy (March 27, 1875): 152. Web. 21 Sept. 2011.


Marston, the blind poet and son of the playwright Marston, was a friend and associate from Rossetti's PRB days (Letters 430n). Rossetti remarks that the present volume is intended as a sequel to Marston's first which made little public impression, but nonetheless warranted the anticipation of this new volume based on the impressive quality of the first collection. The first was based on love unreturned, the present volume on love sundered by the death of the loved one.

Rossetti stresses the authenticity of the poetic drive behind all of the works being the poet's firsthand experience. He notes the tragedy of blindness in Marston's life, a fact he accepts without complaint, as a factor intensifying the feelings generated by the work. Also, the poet's lack of sight but fullness of literary vision underscores for Rossetti the power of the poetic mind to create inspiring and vivid imagery.

Rossetti notes in Marston the element of "sceptisim," or questioning the moral governance of the world, an emerging trend he identifies in the literature of the time. Narston is listed among Rossetti's circle of Cheyne Walk friends, and Rossetti notes of Marston's life circumstance, "So much wretchedness could not fail to leave some trace upon the character and habits of the blind poet" and upon his death, "his best friends were compelled to say it came not too soon (Reminiscences 2:330). Nonetheless, Rossetti claims that Marston ultimately demonstrates the strength of his own convictions despite the reasons he might legitimately have to doubt the fairness or morality of a world that has left him without sight and without the one he loved.

He discusses motivation in poetry, along with specific constructs for the verse and sonnets. Rossetti compares Marston to Petrarch in perfection of verse, and also offers a poem by Dante Rossetti as a side-by-side comparison to a Marston verse.

Rossetti also critiques some mechanical problems with Marston's verse, examining rhyming schemes and construction, using Swinburne as a standard to which Marston comes creditably close. Mentioned also is "the gem-like form of verse" that is the sonnet, comparing it to a Shelley work.

Rossetti credits the work as unparalleled and notes the anticipation this present volume inspires in readers and critics who will welcome Marston's next volume, "The Pilgrimage."




Marston, Poems & Sonnets, verse and constructs of poetry

Standards of Judgment:

Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic standards

Rhetoric and tone:



Marston, Petrarch, Dante Rossetti, Swinburne, Shelley


"the gem-like form of verse."

Works Cited

Rossetti, William Michael. Selected Letters of William Michael Rossetti. Ed. Roger Peattie.University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 1990. Print.

Rossetti, William Michael. . Some Reminiscences of William Michael Rossetti.. Vol. 2. New York: Charles Scribner, 1906. Print.