Three Songs

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1869 (probably spring 1869; possibly spring 1868)
Genre: poetic sequence

Scholarly Commentary


This work had a brief existence in 1869, probably only in the spring-summer. The title names a three-poem sequence that DGR copied out on five manuscript leaves: the three separate songs were titled Belcolore, Bellebuona, and Bocca Baciata. Before he had these works printed, DGR eliminated the sequence and renamed the poems as separate works: respectively, A New Year's Burden, Plighted Promise, and The Song of the Bower.

The work is interesting because it suggests that when he made it DGR was already thinking of The 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.

Textual History: Composition

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.

Printing History

This work was never printed as an integral sequence.


The three songs repeatedly recall the Song of Songs.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 54-1869.raw.xml