Guido Cavalcanti. “Sonnet. A Rapture concerning his Lady.”

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1848?
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: sonnet


“Introduction to Part II” (in The Early Italian Poets), 193-206

◦ Contini, Poeti de Duecento, II. 495

◦ Cassata, Guido Cavalcanti. Rime, 56-58

Cicciaporci 4

Scholarly Commentary


One of Cavalcanti's finest sonnets is met with one of DGR's most remarkable translations. The source text in this case fairly represents the text authorized by the best contemporary scholars. DGR handles the religious materials evoked through the poem quite as deftly as Cavalcanti does. The double allusion to Isaiah 63:1 and the Song of Songs 6:9 in the opening line is raised but not insisted upon in either text, and might scarcely be noted at all except for line 13 (“salute”; “redemption”). At that point, however, the praise and description have been so mortalized, as it were, that the religious theme turns completely into a poetical figure.

One other feature of the translation deserves notice: the second order effect of the translation, which adds a meaning to the poetry not present in Cavalcanti's original. DGR's praise or “Rapture” relates as much, perhaps more, to Cavalcanti's poem as it does to the figure of the woman evoked in the texts.

DGR alters the rhyme scheme of his model, but (as is his common practise in such cases) follows a form almost equally prevalent in the Italian tradition he is imitating.

Textual History: Composition

As with nearly all of these translations, we don't know precisely when DGR made this one, but it was probably early (late 1840s).

Printing History

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

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 116d-1861.raw.xml