Cino da Pistoia. “Sonnet (to Dante Alighieri). He conceives of some Compensation in Death.”

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1848; 1861
Rhyme: abbaaccadefdef
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: sonnet


“Introduction to Part II” (in The Early Italian Poets), 206-211

◦ Marti ed., Poeti del docle stil nuovo, 734-735


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the Early Italian Poets text..

Scholarly Commentary


DGR's source text in Ciampi's edition of the Vita e Poesie di Messer Cino da Pistoia (page 98) is fairly corrupt and the translation reflects that fact. For a more reliable text of the original sonnet see Marti (pages 74-75). The translation also deals pretty freely with its bad source so that the final result is a poem that reflects the original only in a remote way.

Nevertheless, DGR's sonnet is full of interest. For example, line 8 in the translation distinctly suggests not the idea of resurrection, or of its mortal equivalent, a “new life”, but of reincarnation. The latter was an attractive idea for DGR and it runs as a subtext through the sonnets of “The House of Life”, which is strangely forecast in various respects by this sonnet. Notable is the close relation in which it stands to “The One Hope”, the important culminant sonnet of DGR's sequence; but this sonnet echoes a number of texts in DGR's famous later sequence, and clearly anticipates DGR's treatment of the relation of the Beloved of the sequence and the Innominata. The latter relation, of course, is built upon the model fashioned by Dante in the Vita Nuova between Beatrice and the screen ladies.

Finally, the last two lines of the octave force the translation into the kind of reflexive mode that characterizes so many of DGR's translations, especially those of the poems in the Vita Nuova. As a consequence the first person pronouns in DGR's sonnet acquire a palimpsestic character, with Cino and DGR each playing a ghostly presence to the other.

See also the commentary for the source text.

Textual History: Composition

An early translation, probably 1848. DGR's draft manuscript of the translation survives.

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: 193d-1861.raw.xml