The Carillon:

Antwerp and Bruges

Originally, carillons were watch towers whose bells rang to warn citizens of impending danger. They thus represent freedom and civic power."

Rossetti visited Antwerp just after leaving France, where he wrote "From the Cliffs: Noon." He began "The Carillon" here, completing it on his visit to Bruges the same year.

A now rare usage of this word, meaning 'A slow loitering pace.' (OED)

Antwerp church
Antwerp's Cathedral of Notre Dame, the largest Gothic Church in Belgium, is a single tower standing over four hundred feet tall. Construction of the cathedral began in the mid-fourteenth century (1352), but it was not completed until 1616. It houses paintings by Rubens and other artists. [Click here and here to see two views of the Cathedral of Notre Dame at Antwerp]

Also spelled 'Schelde,' this river runs through France and Belgium to the North Sea. The oldest part of Antwerp lies on its eastern bank.

Bruges, where Rossetti completed this poem, was the final stop on Rossetti's and Holman Hunt's 1849 continental tour. In a letter to James Collinson on 24 October 1849, Rossetti wrote: "I believe we have seen to-day almost everything very remarkable at Bruges; but I assure you we shall want to see much of it again. This is a most stunning place, immeasurably the best we have come to.

Carillon (Bruges)
The Belfry at Bruges stands 83 m tall, and dates from the beginning of the thirteenth century. 366 steps lead up to the 47 bells in its carillon, which have a four octave range, and weigh 27 tons altogether. The present bells were built in 1748. [Click here to see a picture of the Belfry at Bruges]

Turmoil, confusion, tangle. (OED)

John Memmling
Better known as Hans Memling (1430-94), a Late Gothic painter of the Bruges School who specialized in Madonnas and other religious subjects. Rossetti explains the unusual spelling of Memling's name in a letter to James Collinson on 24 October 1849: "I must inform you that Memmelinck is an authentic variation in the orthography of that stunner's name, and not of mine own evil devising." Rossetti wrote two sonnets about Memling's works which were published in the fourth number of Art and Poetry, as well as two narrative poems about Memling's works, "Antwerp to Ghent" and "On Leaving Bruges," which were never published during his lifetime. Their first public appearance was in William Michael Rossetti's 1886 collected edition of his brother's work.

John Van Eyck
Better known as Jan van Eyck (1390-1441), founder of the Bruges (or Flemish) School of painting. His innovative lighting effects in painting and his refinement of oil painting techniques make him one of the most important Late Gothic painters. His realistic, naturalistic paintings often depicted religious symbols disguised as familiar objects. Van Eyck is buried in the Church of Saint-Donatian in Bruges. During his 1849 tour of the continent, Rossetti saw paintings by Van Eyck during his visits to the Louvre, Brussels, and Bruges.