The Honeysuckle

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1853 July 12
Rhyme: abbacca
Meter: iambic tetrameter
Genre: song


◦ Gregory, Life and Works of DGR II. 128

Scholarly Commentary


The poem is an erotic parable, much in the manner of certain of Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience: for instance, “My Pretty Rose Tree” and “The Garden of Love”. One might as well recall Wordsworth's “Nutting”.

Textual History: Composition

According to WMR, the poem was written in the summer of 1853, while DGR was at Stratford-Upon-Avon (see Gregory, Life and Works of DGR II. 128 ). This date is confirmed by the copy DGR included in his letter to William Bell Scott of 13 July 1853, where he says he composed the poem “yesterday”. This early copy differs from the received text in many respects. A later manuscript, copied in anticipation of the 1870 publication of his poems, dates from the summer of 1869. The latter is close to the text DGR eventually published.

Printing History

First printed as part of the pre-publication process for the 1870 Poems, in the Penkill Proofs, August 1869. Those proofs have no special organization of the poetic units. At the next proof stage, the so-called A Proofs (Sept. 1869), this poem is placed in a loosely organized section under the heading Sonnets and Songs, Towards a Work to be Called The House of Life. DGR experimented with the order of this section until, in the final proof stage (realized at the beginning of March, 1870) this poem and ten others were grouped as The House of Life's integral section of Songs. This is where it was first published in the 1870 Poems. In the 1881 Poems. A New Edition, this section is detached from The House of Life and placed under the heading Lyrics, and two other poems are added to the group.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 7-1853.raw.xml