Autumn Song

Alternately titled: The Fall of the Leaf
Alternately titled: The Angel of Death

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1848 September 4
Genre: song


◦ Lewis, “The Text of D. G. Rossetti's ‘Autumn Song’”, 368-381

◦ Lewis, 192-196


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the 1911.

Scholarly Commentary


DGR sent the poem in a letter to his mother on 5 September 1848, commenting that he wrote it on 4 September “in what agony of tears let the style suggest. I hereby declare that if snobbishness consists in the assumption of false appearances, the most snobbish of all things is poetry”. He titled the poem in his letter “The Fall of the Leaf” and called it “a howling canticle”. See the Family Letters II. 43-44.

Textual History: Composition

Four manuscripts come down to us: two of these represent the three stanza version (the fair copy in the British Library, and another (later) fair copy in the manuscript book in the Getty Library); and two comprise the longer five stanza version (the manuscript accompanying DGR's letter to his mother in the library of the University of British Columbia, and the fair copy manuscript in WMR's hand in the National Gallery of South Africa).

Printing History

First “privately printed in the programme of a musicale which took place at Orme Square in London on 18 January 1877” ( Lewis 193 ). First published by Moncure Daniel Conway in his Idols and Ideals (1877) 211-212 under the title “The Angel of Death”. These two printings represent the text in its longer, five stanza version. It was subsequently printed as “At the Fall of the Leaf” in its three stanza version in The Musical Review (6 January 1883), and the following year by Edward Danreuther in his Love-Lily and other Songs in 1884. The three stanza version was then collected in WMR's 1886 edition (page 237) and kept thereafter in subsequent editions. Fredeman brought back the longer version in his Correspondence, 48. 11 .

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 7-1848.raw.xml