Dante da Maiano. “Sonnet (to Dante Alighieri). He interprets Dante Alighieri's Dream, related in the first Sonnet of the Vita Nuova.“

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1856?; 1861
Rhyme: abbaabbacdeedc
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: sonnet


“Introduction to Part II” (in Early Italian Poets) 211-212

◦ Bettarini, ed. Dante da Maiano. Rime , 150-151 .

Scholarly Commentary


DGR's translation of this sonnet is one of his least successful. The problem is that he conveys none of the vulgar irony and verve of Dante da Maiano's original sonnet. The failure of the translation seems, in fact, to register a failure in nerve, for DGR was well aware of the importance of Dante da Maiano's tone, which he calls “coarse and trivial” in his general note on the poet in his “Introduction to Part II” in Early Italian Poets.

Dante da Maiano was an older contemporary of Dante Alighieri's. We know little about his life, other than the fact that he also wrote in Provencal. According to legend, he was in love with the Lady Nina of Sicily, a woman he celebrated in his poetry but never met (see DGR's translation of Dante da Maiano's Sonnet to his Lady).

Dante da Maiano brings to bear a realistic critique of Dante's famous opening sonnet to his Vita Nuova. The critique is based on a medical judgment and diagnosis of Dante's sonnet as an index of mental illness. DGR's retreat from Dante da Maiano's irony leaps to attention in line 9, where he puts “stomach” for the Italian “collia”, which means “scrotum”.

DGR's source was the Poeti del Primo Secolo (II. 491).

Textual History: Composition

This is probably a later translation, perhaps the late 1850s.

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: 169d-1861.raw.xml