Praise and Prayer

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1848
Rhyme: abbaabbacdecde
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: sonnet


◦ Baum, Manuscripts in the Duke University Library, 14-15, 56-65

◦ McGann, The Game that Must be Lost, 63-64

◦ Winwar, “Dante Gabriel's or William Michael's?” 1933, 312-315


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

Scholarly Commentary


Like the related sonnet “Another Love”, this poem is (a) one of a group of sonnets that DGR and WMR wrote to rhymes set by each other in 1848—in other words, a kind of poetical exercise; and (b) one of the poems DGR included in the volume he buried with his wife in 1862.

These bibliographical facts lend great significance to the poem. When DGR wrote it in 1848, its subject was literary and ideal: the sestet has clear connections with DGR's artistic interests at that time, especially as they are represented and fulfilled in works like “The Blessed Damozel”, “Hand and Soul”, and “St. Agnes of Intercession”, and DGR's translation of Dante's “Vita Nuova”.

Historical circumstances would intervene to alter the significance of the poem in DGR's imagination. The aesthetic exercise of 1848 turned into something very different in 1862. Reading the sonnet with a self-conscious understanding of its history—which is what DGR would have done in 1862 and again in 1869—DGR would have been struck by its premonitory qualities. The personal import is especially apparent in the sestet, but the entire sonnet seems riven with haunted and uncanny meaning. That DGR was specially susceptible to these kinds of suggestions is well known.

Textual History: Composition

This text was copied out in 1862 from some earlier text, perhaps the original 1848 manuscript. The cross that marks the 1862 text for excision or removal must be DGR's and would date from 1869, when he decided not to include the poem in his volume of 1870 Poems. The buried manuscript volume, recovered in October of that year, had texts of poems DGR wanted to include in his 1870 collection. This work, however, was not admitted to the volume, nor was “Another Love”.

The text of the poem printed by WMR in 1911 differs in several places from this manuscript. The differences may indicate that WMR was working from another text of the sonnet.

Printing History

First printed by WMR in his 1911 collected edition.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 23-1848.raw.xml