Folgore da San Geminiano. “Sonnet. To the Guelf Faction.”

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1861
Rhyme: abbaabbacdeedc
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: sonnet


“Table of Poets” in Early Italian Poets vol. 1, xxviii.

◦ Contini, Poeti de duecento vol. 1, 403-404.


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

Scholarly Commentary


This is an interesting translation, partly because of its (political) subject matter—something we don't think DGR was much concerned with—and partly because of the way the translation deviates from the original. The subject of the sonnet is the peace treaty made in August 1316 between the Guelph leader, King Robert of Naples, and Pisa after the battle of Montecatini (1315), where the Guelph forces, and in particular the Florentines, were routed.

WMR's note to the poem in his 1911 edition thinks that DGR “has . . . rather misapprehended” the meaning of the sestet. But this is not clear. The translation is free, but WMR's judgment seems to read the lines “straight”, whereas it is probably the case that DGR meant them to be taken ironically. WMR also points out that DGR's translation seems to have mistaken the meaning of the Italian word “bubbole”, which literally signifies “lapwings”, not “bubbles”. But once again WMR's more literal reading seems to mistake what DGR is doing: a free translation of the sense is made in order to exploit the wit of a homophonic translation of the Italian word. The sestet also deviates somewhat from the original in its rhyme scheme.

For further commentary see commentary for the Italian original, “Guelfi, per fare scudo delle reni”.

Textual History: Composition

Almost certainly 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: 216d-1861.raw.xml