Notes to "Repining"


SHE sat alway ... no more alone.
Among other possible allusions, the opening image of the spinster woman awaiting a lover recalls Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott," the title character of which is "imbowered" on an island in the river and enclosed within "Four grey walls, and four grey towers," where she weaves a magic web and awaits the arrival of her lover. Lines 16-18 ("The wheel went round more wearily; / She wept and said in undertone: / "Come, that I be no more alone.") also recalls the refrain of Tennyson's "Mariana":

She only said, "My life is dreary,
He cometh not," she said;
She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!"

She trembled ... without awe.
D. G. Rossetti's painting "Ecce Ancilla Domini!" [The Annunciation] (1849-50) depicts the Virgin Mary trembling in bed at the sight of the Angel Gabriel. A "glory" shines around his head and throughout the room. The painting was begun two years after "Repining" was written.

While the word "charity" commonly denotes "caritas," or Christian love, in its plural sense it refers most often to acts or works of benevolence to the poor. (OED)

many slimy things
Cf. Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (1798):

The very deep did rot: O Christ!
That ever this should be!
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy sea. (l. 123-126)

Lord, let thy servant part in peace
"Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word" (Luke 2:29) (Authorized King James Bible)

As a man soweth so he reaps
"Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." (Galatians 6:7) (Authorized King James Bible)

This passage is taken from the Letter of Paul to the Galatians, the central part of which is an exposition of the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Written by the Apostle Paul during his third missionary journey, this epistle sets forth, with impassioned eloquence, the true function of the Mosaic law and its relation to God's grace as manifested in Christ.