Love's Last Gift

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

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


◦ WMR, DGR Designer and Writer, 224

◦ Baum, ed., House of Life, 153-154


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

Scholarly Commentary


The sonnet's basic argument is that Love's last gift to the poet is “this laurel”, which here—given the function of the sonnet's flower images—can only mean this sonnet or this sonnet sequence DGR is writing. DGR is proposing a special variant of “art for art's sake”. The variant would shortly be named “the religion of beauty” precisely because of the influence of DGR's quasi-religious treatment of the idea of art for art's sake—so different, for example, from Swinburne's distinctively humanist treatment.

Textual History: Composition

Acording to WMR, the sonnet was composed in 1871. There is an early fair copy in the Bancroft collection, the earliest version of the sonnet known to exist. This text is revised in the corrected copy gathered in the Fitzwilliam composite “House of Life” sequence. Another fair copy is gathered in the Troxell composite “House of Life” sequence.

Textual History: Revision

As late as 19 May 1881 DGR was uncertain about where to place this sonnet in the sequence, as his letter to Watts-Dunton of that day shows. He was still considering that the end of Part I should be the “True Woman” triptych, with this sonnet to precede the latter.

Printing History

First published in the 1881 Ballads and Sonnets and collected thereafter. A typographical error in line 14 was first corrected in the fourth edition of the 1881 volume.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 28-1871.raw.xml