Plighted Promise

Alternately titled: Bellebuona
Alternately titled: The Moon-Star

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1869[?]
Rhyme: a4b4a4b 3b5a4b3
Meter: trochaic
Genre: song


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the 1881 Poems First Edition.

Scholarly Commentary


DGR's inclination toward an extreme artifice of expression is here sharply realized. His correspondence about the poem with his brother in August 1869 (see Doughty and Wahl, Letters II. 725 , and WMRsl 217 ) underscores this quality of the verse—especially WMR's “doubt whether the long line in this poem is quite satisfactory to the ear”. WMR goes on immediately to add, however: “They have the great value of specializing the lyrical rhythm—and, if you advisedly like them, you are probably right”. DGR's view was simply: “I like the long lines myself”.

Textual History: Composition

According to WMR the poem was composed in 1869 ( 1911 ). There is no evidence that confirms or disconfirms that dating other than the Fitzwilliam Museum manuscript. That manuscript is one of the Three Poems fair copied together as a unit under that collective title in 1869. There this poem was titled “Bellebuona”.

Textual History: Revision

DGR made minor changes to the poem in his early proofs, at the suggestion of his brother. The most notable change came in the proofs for the second trial book, where the title is changed to “Plighted Promise” from “The Moon Star”, which was the poem's title in its earliest manuscript and in all of the earlier proof states. The title seems itself to have been important to DGR since he later (1871) composed a sonnet with the same title.

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. 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: 2-1865.raw.xml