This work had a brief existence in 1869, probably only in
the spring-summer. The title names a three-poem sequence that DGR
on five manuscript leaves: the three separate songs were titled
Bocca Baciata. Before he had these works
printed, DGR eliminated the sequence and renamed the poems as separate
A New Year's Burden,
Plighted Promise, and
The Song of the
The work is interesting because it suggests that when
he made it DGR was already thinking of
House of Life as a Petrarchan work composed (as he originally
described it) of Sonnets and Songs. Second, it shows
that the crucial painting
Bocca Baciata had the
status of a double-work in DGR's mind, perhaps
during the whole of the 1860s.
On the verso of the last leaf there is a (cancelled) text of
the sonnet Disio; it
is dated “Marzo/68.” WMR, however, associates the
latter with a date of June 1869 (see WMR,
Rossetti Papers 1862 to 1870, 396), when DGR showed him a copy of the sonnet. It seems that
the sonnet was in fact composed in March 1868, and that its date on this manuscript indicates its non-contemporaneity—hence, that these
“Three Songs” belong to the spring-summer of 1869.
This work was never printed as an integral sequence.
The three songs repeatedly recall the Song of Songs.