Hope Overtaken

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1871
Rhyme: abbaabbacdecde
Meter: iambic
Genre: sonnet


◦ WMR, DGR Designer and Writer, 210-211

◦ Baum, ed., House of Life, 125-126


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

Scholarly Commentary


Reading the sonnet autobiographically, Baum (page 126) notes that “the Lady whose name is Hope may be the New Beloved [i.e., Mrs.Morris]” or DGR's dead wife: “The ambiguity. . .would be characteristic of Rossetti”. Referencing DGR's wife, the sonnet is in Baum's view recollective, “an expression of Rossetti's hesitation and postponement of his marriage, with the reconciliation of old and new hope which accompanied his decision”. What Baum leaves unsaid, though it is implicit in his reading, is that this “Hope of mine” (9) is the reconciliation of all of DGR's ambiguous and dislocated love relations and lovers. Lines 9-10 are especially relevant in this respect, for they manipulate the language so that the two chief distinctions operating in the poem—Love and Hope, Old Love and New Beloved—are joined through the remarkable conceit governing all of the sonnet and epitomized in the rhetoric of the sestet's prayer. That is to say, the speaker expresses the hope that he desires to be realized, the supreme loving desire that sustains his persistent hope.

The sonnet is closely paired with the sonnet that immediately succeeds it in the 1881 “House of Life” sequence.

Textual History: Composition

Two copies are held in the Library of Congress: a corrected draft and a fair copy made from it. Two other integral manuscripts exist as well, a fair copy in the Fitzwilliam composite “House of Life”; and the holograph fair copy in the Bodleian Kelmscott Love Sonnets group. DGR scripted the beginning of the sonnet (line 1) in Ashley Notebook I.

Printing History

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


The sonnet recalls the penultimate sonnet in Dante's Vita Nuova, translated by DGR as “Ye pilgrim-folk, advancing pensively”.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 23-1871.raw.xml