Barcarola (“Per carità”)

Alternately titled: Serenata

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1874
Rhyme: abbabaaaaccca
Meter: iambic dimeter
Genre: song

Scholarly Commentary


WMR dates this poem 1875 but its appearance in DGR's 1874 gift book to Jane Morris shows that it must have been written earlier—perhaps in the spring or early summer, 1874. The title “Barcarola” is sanctioned by the first printed text, authorised by WMR, as well as by two of the three known manuscripts. In one manuscript (at the Boston Public Library) the title is changed from “Barcarola” to “Serenata”; in another (at Texas) it is changed from “Serenata” to “Barcarola” . “Barcarola” thus seems the title most likely to have been last authorised by DGR.

Textual History: Composition

Three integral manuscripts descend to us: the fair copy in the Jane Morris gift book, a fair copy at Texas, and another fair copy in the Boston Public Library.

Printing History

First printed by WMR from an unknown manuscript in volume I (page 375) of his 1886 collected edition of DGR's works, and included thereafter.


The song may be loosely rendered thus: Have mercy, show me your love:my heart is on fire but I don't know where love is. What will this lovely time do to me if I don't know how she will love? Alas, lonely me. My heart is wrenched, wander no longer, have mercy.

Have mercy, show me your heavens, everything is veiled from me so that I don't know where heaven lies. If it all stays this way down here one doesn't know where one's going. Oh I'm lost, everything's in vain, embrace me, have mercy.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 37-1875.raw.xml