“Time: Blank Verse”
The poem is untitled in MS IA; entitled by Ruskin as “Time / Blank Verse” in his later witness, MS III. Specifying blank verse in the title is in keeping with another poem probably composed within a few months (or even weeks or days) of “Time: Blank Verse”“On the Rainbow: In Blank Verse.
MS IA; MS III (pp. 25–27).
Facsimile and transcript by permission of Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
In MS IA, which is a compilation, the manuscript per se of the poem (see MS IA: Contents), is a one‐sheet, 12.5 by 20 cm holograph, presumably meant as a New Yearʼs Poem presentation copy.
In MS III, a Red Book devoted primarily to “Harry and Lucy”, Vol. 2, “Time: Blank Verse” is the second poem in the MS III Second Poetry Anthology.
1 January 1827.
Dated by Ruskin in the MS IA manuscript, an annotation that identifies the work as the first definitely known instance of a New Yearʼs Poem (see also “The Needless Alarm”: Discussion). At the end of the MS III witness, a hand other than Ruskinʼs dated the poem as “Jan 1.1827”. The hand appears to be W. G. Collingwoodʼs.
In MS III, given the poemʼs position amid writing from early 1828 (i.e., positioned between “The Constellations: Northern, Some of the Zodiac, and Some of the Southern and “The Sun”), this witness must date from early 1828.
Composition and Publication
MS III witness, Poems (4o, 1891), 1:xxvi–xxvii; Poems (8o, 1891), 1:xiii–xiv; and Ruskin, Works, 2:258–59.
As the second poem of the MS III Second Poetry Anthology, “Time: Blank Verse” in this version cannot derive from the MS IA version, as claimed in the Library Edition (Ruskin, Works, 2:258 n. 1), since, in the anthology, it precedes “The Sun”, which belongs to 1828. Rather, the MS III version is a copy, with variants, of the earlier presentation copy for New Yearʼs Day, 1827.
Since “The Sun”, like “Time: Blank Verse”, is a New Yearʼs Poem, Ruskin may have celebrated the New Yearʼs Day for 1828 by enhancing MS III, inserting after “Harry and Lucy”, Vol. 2, the MS III Second Poetry Anthology, which includes these poems. It is possible that this observance repeated a similar pattern in MS I, to which he had added “Poetry” [MS I Poetry Anthology] following “Harry and Lucy”, Vol. 1, in early 1827. (In “Poetry” [MS I Poetry Anthology], he included “The Needless Alarm”, which may have been composed a year earlier, in January 1826, and which may therefore have likewise served as a New Yearʼs Poem; see “The Needless Alarm”: Discussion.)
In MS III, the poem wraps around a drawing, Ship and House, which bears no evident relation to the poem. Ruskin probably intended the drawing for a continuation of “Harry and Lucy”, Vol. 2, which he ended prior to reaching this page, using the remaining space for the MS III Second Poetry Anthology.