Five English Poets

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1881
Genre: sonnet sequence


◦ Sharp, DGR. A Record and a Study, 401-402.

◦ Swafford, “The Dauntless Soul,”, 53-63.

◦ WMR, Works, (1911), 670.


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

Scholarly Commentary


During the first six months or so of 1880 DGR was involved with a broad reconsideration of the English Romantic poets and these five sonnets are the poetical result. (There is no sonnet on Wordsworth because DGR found his work tedious and uninteresting; nor one on Byron, whose work he admired, but whose life he found disturbing and scandalous.) The best commentary on the sonnets comes in DGR's letters of these months and the associated notes, on Blake and Chatterton in particular, that are part of these letters. The general rethinking of romanticism was triggered by a pair of events: the publication of the second and much augmented edition of Gilchrist's The Life of William Blake (1880), and the publication of Watts-Dunton's selections of the poetry of Chatterton in T. H. Ward's edition of English Poets. DGR was much involved with the work on both of these publications

The five sonnets, gathered in the following order in 1881, were on Chatterton, Blake, Coleridge, Keats, and Shelley.

Textual History: Composition

All five sonnets were composed at various times between January and July 1880.

Printing History

The first printing of any of these sonnets was in their appearance as a group in the 1881 Ballads and Sonnets, headed with the title Five English Poets. They were collected thereafter but in the 1911 Works the five-sonnet grouping is removed by WMR and the sonnets are printed separately.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 24-1881.raw.xml