Burnett, The Ashley Library, II. 315
Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the 1911.
The immediate subject of the sonnet is the Franco-Prussian war (1870-71), when Bismark's dream of a united and powerful Germany enjoyed its first crucial success. DGR's reference in lines 1-2 situate his commentary in relation to 1859, when France worked to bring about the unification of Italy under a monarchy (Piedmont). The “harlot” of the sonnet is of course France, who in 1871 signs a treaty with Germany (when in 1859 France fought with the Piedmontese against the Austrians). As usual with DGR's political views, the scene is depicted in savagely ironical terms. Essentially DGR's views are Mazzinian, and he sees the humiliation of France in 1871 as the natural consequence of her refusal to take a principled stand toward Italy.
The sonnet was written as an explicit pendant to his sonnet of twelve years earlier, “After the French Liberation of Italy”. Indeed, this piece is clearly written under the motto “I told you so”. See also the early “On Refusal of Aid between Nations”.
The reference to twelve months (line 2) argues that the sonnet was written around August 1871, twelve months after the outbreak of the war. The peace treaty was concluded at the same time.
The sonnet was not published until WMR's two-volume edition of 1904 (I. 34), and it was collected thereafter.