Love and the gentle heart are one same thing

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

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


“Introduction to Part II” (in Early Italian Poets) 189-193

◦ Foster and Boyd, Dante's Lyric Poetry, I.64-65 (II. 104-107) .

◦ De Robertis, ed., Vita Nuova, 133-136 .

Scholarly Commentary


The sonnet explicates the ideas—which is also to say, the practise—of the great canzone preceding it in the Vita Nuova, “Ladies that have intelligence in love”. Once again the inventive excellence of DGR's translation leaps to attention. As DGR's note indicates, Dante's sonnet references Guinizzelli's famous canzone, also translated by DGR, “Within the gentle heart Love shelters him”. DGR's translation is particularly interesting in the opening passage where the Guinizzelli allusion is made. DGR's purpose comes into focus in line 3, which departs drastically from the literal sense of Dante's Italian (“E così senza l'un l'altro esser osa”). The differential is measured by DGR's clear effort to evoke the figure of Samuel Taylor Coleridge by echoing a famous passage from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” in the context of a theoretical discussion of the psycho-dynamics of love. Indeed, Dante's (and DGR's) argument for the intimate relation of form and matter (see Dante's divisio for this sonnet) has no force unless the “power [sustaining that relation] translates itself into act”. That prose explanation from the divisio involves its own remarkable act of translation, for the Italian source of “translates itself” is “si riduce”. We know that DGR asked WMR to translate the Vita Nuova's divisions for him. Whichever Rossetti brother was responsible for this translation, it is a trenchant linguistic moment.

DGR's source text was “Amore e cor gentil sono una cosa” in the third volume of Fraticelli's Opere Minori di Dante Alighieri .

Textual History: Composition

This is an early translation, in the 1840s, perhaps as early as 1846.

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: 27d-1861.raw.xml