This volume of DGR's original poetry, announced in an
advertisement notice printed on the page with the errata list at the end of The Early Italian Poets (1861), was never set in type or published. The publication was firmly in train by mid-November 1861 (see his letter to his publisher of 15 November,
Correspondence, 61. 86
), but the plan was aborted when DGR's wife Elizabeth died early in 1862. It was DGR's
manuscript copy of this projected volume that he placed in the coffin
with his wife's body.
DGR intended this book to appear as a companion to his book of
translations. The idea for the double project grew out of DGR's
correspondence with William Allingham in
1859-1860. Allingham had penned some notes to some of DGR's early Italian translations
that the poet had set in type in mid-1858. DGR sent copies of these proofs
to various friends and he spoke in July 1858 of “getting through
the press at last my volume of Early Italian Poets”
Correspondence, 58. 16
, letter to Charles Eliot Norton, July, 1858). In June 1860 he wrote Allingham that he had been “meaning to inflict my vol of MS. rhymes of you for some time . . . but wanted to copy a little more first” (
Correspondence, 60. 16
, letter of 20 June 1859). He had in fact begun copying out his original poems in 1859 “with a view to printing some day”, and in November he was promising Allingham to send him the transcriptions. He thought about making a second copy of the book but in fact never did (see letters to Allingham of November and December, 1959,
Correspondence, 59. 42, 47
, letters of ca.10 November and December 1859).
By early 1861 DGR had all but decided to publish the two volumes. As he wrote to his brother on 19 January 1861, “I want to get my own poems out at the same time as the translations, but am not sure yet” (
Correspondence, 61. 4
). His correspondence with his brother and Allingham shows that he continued working on the texts of both books throughout 1861.
Several leaves survive from this notorious volume, which was exhumed from Elizabeth's grave in 1869. These are the Yale manuscript of “Wellington's Funeral”; British Library manuscript of “Another Love”; and the Harvard manuscript of “Praise and Prayer”.