A New-Year's Burden

Alternately titled: Belcolore
Alternately titled: Song. A New Year's Burden

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1858, 1859 (possibly)
Rhyme: a4b3a4b3 c3c3c5
Meter: iambic
Genre: lyric


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


When in the summer of 1869 DGR began to gather his poetry together for printing and possible publication, this lyric written some ten years before was one of the works he first included in his collection. The poem has many of the qualities of a song, as is borne out by the fact that it has been set to music a number of times. The poem is a good example of DGR's deft (and deliberate) management of assonance and repetition. It has much in common, stylistically, with a work like “Down Stream”.

The theme of love's transience and, in Swinburne's words, “The Triumph of Time”, is splendidly worked into the texture of this poem's language.

Textual History: Composition

WMR assigns the date 1858 to this work, though he gives no evidence for this dating (see WMR, DGR as Designer and Writer, 293 ), and offers the date tentatively. In his 1911 edition he dates the poem 1859 in his index. DGR himself said (in August 1869) that the poem was “written long before” (see Fredeman, Correspondence, 69. 139 ). The Fitzwilliam corrected holograph manuscript is not easy to date but it certainly antedates the Fitzwilliam corrected fair copy; the latter appears as one of the Three Songs fair copied together as a unit under that collective title in 1869. There this poem was titled “Belcolore”.

Printing History

The poem was first printed as part of the prepublication texts that DGR put together in 1869, as a prelude to the publication of the 1870 Poems. It was printed in August in the Penkill Proofs, where it formed part of the section of “The House of Life” poems. DGR moved the poem to the opening “Poems” section as the prepublication text of the 1870 volume moved into the proofs for the first edition in early March (see his letter to SAwinburne of 7 March 1870, Fredeman, Correspondence, 70. 45 , letter to Swinburne of 7 March 1870). The poem was first published in the first edition, republished in the “New Edition” of 1881, and collected thereafter.

In 1877 the poem was printed with a musical score by Florence A. Marshall.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 4-1859.raw.xml