William Morris

The Pilgrims of Hope


The Pilgrims of Hope is a set of poems serialized by Morris in the Commonweal, beginning in March 1885. It seems that it was originally an experiment, with Morris uncertain of the reception; but the result was so popular it swelled into a series, and finally a full-blown story; the story of star-crossed lovers who go to fight for the Paris Commune. Although written for a political purpose, as usual with Morris it is impossible to separate the political from the personal; he himself appears in the story

thickset and short, and dressed in shabby blue

and the hope that stays in the end, even after the defeat of the Commune, is not Gramsci's 'optimism of the will' alone, but the hope that comes from bringing up a child.

Introduction by Graham Seaman, 8th May 2003