Guido Cavalcanti. “Sonnet (to Pope Boniface VIII). After the Pope's Interdict, when the great Houses were leaving Florence.”

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

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


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

◦ Contini, Poeti de Duecento, II. 567

◦ Cassata, Guido Cavalcanti. Rime, 236-237

Scholarly Commentary


DGR's sources badly misled him about the context of this sonnet, which is addressed to Cavalcanti's time-serving cousin Nerone, and not to Pope Boniface VIII. The sonnet is a melancholy invective written in late 1300 after the order of expulsion from Florence of the White and Black Guelph factions. Cavalcanti, a leader of the Whites, was exiled to Sarzana. The papal interdict against Florence came in June of the same year but it has no direct relevance to the subject of Cavalcanti's poem.

Except for a slight variation in the sestet, DGR's rhyme scheme is the same as Cavalcanti's. There are significant corruption in lines 4 and 8 of the source text, Cicciaporci's Rime di Guido Cavalcanti (Sonnet XVII, page 9).

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: 133d-1861.raw.xml