A Young Fir-Wood

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1850 November
Rhyme: abbacca
Meter: iambic tetrameter
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 text.

Scholarly Commentary


Like The Honeysuckle and The Sea-Limits, both of which employ the same meter scheme, the poem is a parable. In this case the subject is not love, as in The Honeysuckle, but mortality.

Textual History: Composition

Composed in November 1850 when DGR had gone to Sevenoaks to paint with Hunt and Stephens. The fair copy manuscript in the Fitzwilliam Museum was copied in the summer of 1869 when DGR was beginning preparations for the publication of what would be his 1870 volume of Poems.

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) and then in the first edition, 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.


Doughty (see A Victorian Romantic ,105) reads the poem as “an unconscious or semi-conscious expression of the growing sex-urge of [DGR's] adolescence. That it was at least semi-conscious is suggested by the fact that a little later, in “Love's Nocturn”, he again, and consciously, used the fir-wood as a symbol of sexual desire”.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 6-1850.raw.xml