Guido Cavalcanti. “Sonnet (to Dante Alighieri). He answers the foregoing Sonnet (by Dante), speaking with shame of his changed Love.”

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1848?; 1861
Rhyme: abbaabbacdeedc
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: sonnet


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

◦ Contini, Poeti de Duecento, II. 545

◦ Cassata, Guido Cavalcanti. Rime, 182-184

Scholarly Commentary


The sonnet is Cavalcanti's dark rejoinder to Dante's sonnet inviting his friend to join him on a perpetual voyage of love. The translation is considerably less successful than the original, partly because DGR's source text, if not precisely corrupt, offers weaker readings than scholars accept as authoritative (the source was Cicciaporci's Rime di Guido Cavalcanti (Sonnet XXVII, page 14). So, for example, in line 4 DGR's source has “segno” instead of the now accepted and much less abstract reading “legno”. Or consider line 3, where DGR renders “altra sembianza” as “another brow”: here he clearly is trying to introduce a realistic detail that will index the ground of Cavalcanti's critical reflection on Dante's idealistic sonnet, but the detail is only formally “realistic”. It's actual force is rather more “poetical” than otherwise.

The translation adheres strictly to the source's rhyme scheme.

Textual History: Composition

This is 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: 125d-1861.raw.xml