Giotto di Bondone. “Canzone. Of the Doctrine of Voluntary Poverty.”

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1848?; 1861
Rhyme: ABbCADdCcEeFfGG
Meter: iambic trimeter and pentameter
Genre: canzone


“Introduction to Part II” (in The Early Italian Poets) 219-221

◦ Trucchi, Poesie Italiana inedite, II. 5-6


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

Scholarly Commentary


As his introductory notes suggest, DGR was interested in this canzone for two reasons: it is the only poem Giotto is known to have written, and its forthright argument against poverty is unusual. DGR's double interest in painting and poetry also commended to him the friendship of Giotto and Dante, which he famously commemorated in his watercolour Giotto Painting the Portrait of Dante.

Finally, one recognizes the pleasure DGR takes in rendering Giotto's deliberately tortuous poetical wit. Despite all the ideality suffusing the work of DGR and his early Italian models, DGR appreciated and sympathized with the common calls of a worldly life. Furthermore, all his work shows an acute awareness—sometimes in amusement, often not—of the confict between ideal and quotidian demands. The hypocrisy that Giotto speaks about in the canzone explicates one form of that conflict, and the candor of the canzone represents another. That DGR knew how deeply he himself was transfixed by this conflict is apparent throughout his work—which is another reason he would have been attracted to Giotto's unusual poem.

DGR's source was the text in Trucchi (II. 8-11).

Textual History: Composition

Probably an early translation, late 1840s.

Printing History

The translation was first published in 1861 in The Early Italian Poets; it was reprinted in 1874 in Dante and his Circle.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 103d-1861.raw.xml