Heart's Hope

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1871
Rhyme: abbaabbacdcddc
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: sonnet


◦ WMR, DGR Designer and Writer, 188

◦ Baum, ed., House of Life, 70-72


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the 1881 Ballads and Sonnets First Edition text.

Scholarly Commentary


The earliest (1871) manuscript of the sonnet (in the Bancroft collection) has a note by DGR indicating that it is “To come first in the series”, a comment that indicates the importance he attached to the work. He in fact placed the poem at the head of the Kelmscott Love sonnets sequence, where its principal significance is thereby defined in relation to Jane Morris. The two lines climaxing the octave declare one of DGR's central concepts. They focus the character of DGR's work, poetical as well as pictorial, and they are applicable both to the stylistic method and to the ideological content.

Textual History: Composition

Composed (probably) sometime between late July and the end of September 1871, the sonnet descends to us in four integral manuscripts: the Bancroft collection corrected draft; a fair copy made for Jane Morris and the Kelmscott Love sonnets sequence; and two later copies, the fair copy in the Fitzwilliam compilation of The House of Life; and the printer's copy, now gathered in the Troxell compilation of the sonnet sequence.

If the reference to spring is at all literal, the sonnet may date from May or early June 1871 when DGR and Jane Morris spent time alone together on several occasions.

Textual History: Revision

A fragmentary late manuscript revision of lines 13-14 appears in Notebook IV in the Duke University collection. It dates from around 1880. The shifting of the sonnet in 1881 from its position at the head of the sonnet sequence (in the Kelmscott Love Sonnets version) to its received location is significant. There it is poised at the threshold of the powerful erotic sonnets that constitute, in one sense, the eccentric early pivot point of the entire sequence—that is, just before “The Kiss“.

Printing History

First published in the 1881 Ballads and Sonnets and collected thereafter.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 2-1871.raw.xml