Rustico di Filippo. “Sonnet. Of the Safety of Messer Fazio.”

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

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


Scholarly Commentary


For commentary on Rustico see editorial notes on DGR's translation of Rustico's sonnet on Albizzo de' Caponsacchi.

This translation is one of DGR's strangest, being at once quite difficult and not at all attractive. In this respect it mirrors its original, which is rarely anthologized since it is one of Rustico's most notoriously recondite works. DGR's note to his translation explains that he failed to trace the Fazio named in the sonnet, and subsequent scholars have fared no better. But we do know that Messer Bertuccio is the Lambertuccio of Firenze, a prominent figure in the political and commercial life of the city toward the end of the thirteenth-century, and that Cocciolo (Chiocciola) was Lambertuccio's brother. Everyone also recognizes that Rustico's sonnet is a highly ironical treatment of Lambertuccio and that it carries its satire via a series of veiled obscenities. Beyond that the commentators agree only in acknowledging that the sonnet's precise meaning remains uncertain.

Why would DGR attempt to translate such a work? The answer is probably inferable from his own realistic and satirical poems, particularly those he wrote in 1849 during his trip with Hunt to Paris and Belgium. Fastidious as he was, DGR wrote some rude and even coarse works—most notably, perhaps, “The Can-Can at Valentino's”, which WMR seriously expurgated when he first printed it in 1895. One also remembers the fairly strong imagery of “After the French Liberation of Italy”. It is not unlikely, then, that DGR wanted to try his hand at Rustico's satire precisely to see how well he could translate into English the veiled indecency of Rustico's original poem.

The translation is extremely free, even misleadingly so in the final lines. DGR's source text is Trucchi's Poesie Italiane inedite (I. 231).

Textual History: Composition

The sonnet is probably an early work, from the late 40s or early 50s.

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: 142d-1861.raw.xml