A Little While

Alternately titled: Song. A Little While

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1859
Rhyme: a4b4b4a 4c4d4c4d 3
Meter: iambic
Genre: song


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the Poems 1881 First Edition text.

Scholarly Commentary


As with all the pieces in the Songs section of The House of Life, this one echoes recurrent themes. It should be compared, particularly in reference to its second stanza, with poems like Autumn Idleness and The Hill Summit.

Textual History: Composition

According to WMR the poem was composed in 1859 ( 1911 ). There is no hard evidence that confirms or disconfirms that dating.

Textual History: Revision

WMR used this poem to make some general suggestions to DGR about the printing of the poems in the proofs to the 1870 Poems (see Peattie, WMR. Selected Letters, 217 ).

Printing History

First printed as part of the pre-publication process for the 1870 Poems, in the Penkill Proofs, August 1869. Those proofs have no special organization of the poetic units. At the next proof stage, the so-called A Proofs (Sept. 1869), this poem is placed in a loosely organized section under the heading Sonnets and Songs, Towards a Work to be Called The House of Life. DGR experimented with the order of this section until, in the final proof stage (realized at the beginning of March, 1870) this poem and ten others were grouped as The House of Life's integral section of Songs. In the 1881 Poems. A New Edition, this section is detached from The House of Life and placed under the heading Lyrics, and two other poems are added to the group.

In 1870 the poem was printed with a musical score by Florence A. Marshall.


The clear Shakespeare allusion (to Sonnet 73) in lines 9-16 is especially apt for DGR's theme of the transience of love.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 3-1859.raw.xml