Gioventú e Signorìa

Alternately titled: Youth and Lordship (Italian Street Song)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1871
Rhyme: a2b3b2a3, a2b2a2b2b2a2
Meter: iambic
Genre: song
The English translation has a different verse scheme: a3b3a4a3, a3b3a3b3b3a3

Scholarly Commentary


Although published by DGR in the 1881 Poems. A New Edition as an anonymous Italian street song that he rendered in an English translation, “This so-called ‘Italian Street-song’ was really Rossetti's own composition—the Italian as well as the English version” (see 1911, 673 , WMR's note to the pair of poems in that edition). The poem was written in 1871 when DGR was sojourning at Kelmscott with Mrs. Morris, a biographical context that is clearly relevant to the work. It is notable that when DGR published the pair of verses, he presented the Italian text as an anonymous source for his translation, printing the Italian verses in a footnote to the English text. Equally notable are the number of surviving manuscript copies of the work—testimony to the significance of the work for DGR.

In his note WMR adds this interesting comment: “In all the instances in which he wrote a piece in the two languages, the Italian was, I think, the first”.

Textual History: Composition

The earliest text of the Italian song is the draft worked into three pages of Note Book 1 in the Ashley Library (along with a draft text of stanza one of DGR's translation). A fair copy is included among the miscellaneous poems DGR gathered at the back of the gift book of verses he gave to Mrs. Morris in 1874, along with a fair copy of his translation. Fair copies of the Italian text and of the translation are also in the Lilly Library. These were printer's copy for the 1881 publication and they carry late revisions. Another fair copy of both the Italian text and the translation is preserved in the Library of Congress.

Printing History

First published in the 1881 “New Edition” of DGR poems and collected thereafter. The history of the printing of the two poems in that edition is interesting. They were initially printed in Signature M, but DGR called for their removal and decided to place the poems later in the volume, in Signature U. In making this placement change, DGR also reversed the sequence of the two poems: in Signature M the English translation is a footnote to the Italian verses, but in Signature U the translation is in the superior position, as received.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 41-1871.raw.xml