Sir Hugh the Heron

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1840-1843
Rhyme: a4b4a4b3 b2
Meter: iambic
Genre: ballad


◦ Gregory, “Life and Works of DGR” vol. 2 101-102.

◦ WMR, Family Letters, vol. 1, 84-85.


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the 1843 Private Printing.

Scholarly Commentary


DGR began writing this ballad in 1840 and nearly finished it that year. But he lost interest in the work and laid it aside. Later his grandfather Polidori promised to have it printed if he completed it, so he did, and the poem was duly printed in a small run for private circulation in 1843. DGR later had most of the copies of the work destroyed, though a few still survive.

WMR gives a plot summary in his Family Letters (vol. 1, 84-85). DGR wrote a note for the poem sometime in the 1870s. In it he expresses his hope that the ballad never be published. Although DGR claims that when he wrote Sir Hugh he had read no English poetry other than Sir Walter Scott, certain formal features of the work indicate greater awareness of ballad tradition.


The poem is based on Allan Cunningham's prose tale “The Elfin Miller of Croga Mill,” which DGR read in the second (1840) edition of the collection, originally published in 1826, Legends of Terror ... (181-192).

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 1-1841.raw.xml