First Love Remembered

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1869
Rhyme: a4b3b4a 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


The extreme artifice of the poem throws a decorative and pictorial veil over the underlying romantic—indeed, Wordsworthian— thematic structure. The work pivots around lines 13-14, which locate the devotion of reciprocal blessings that are represented in the verse. As so often in DGR's work, the implied temporality figured as the poles of a then-now sequence is arrested and immobilized, as in a picture. The signal opening word (“Peace”) transforms into the word “still” (line 13), a conceptual rhyme that realizes the poem's condition of stillness that is at once moral, psychic, and (ultimately) textual. The poem is (literally) a prayer for peace that evolves into an image of that prayer, or perhaps an icon of it.

Textual History: Composition

According to WMR the poem was composed in 1869 ( 1911 ). There is no evidence that confirms or disconfirms that dating, though it seems plausible. The Fitzwilliam manuscript is a fair copy made in the summer of 1869, but it could be a copy of an earlier text.

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.


The title is a recollection of Shakespeare, “Sonnet 29” line 13.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 31-1869.raw.xml