Passion and Worship

Alternately titled: Love and Worship

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1870
Rhyme: abbaabbacddccd
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: sonnet


◦ Baum, ed., The House of Life, 78-79

◦ WMR, DGR as Designer and Writer, 190-191


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the Poems 1870 First Edition text.

Scholarly Commentary


The sonnet functions in The House of Life sequence as an important transitional device. The manifest iconographical structure of the sonnet is here focused on the subject that has dominated the sequence to this point: Love. But the artifice of this work is so extreme that another crucial motif gets introduced obliquely: the subject of Art, and (implicitly) the relation of Art to Love. The next sonnet in the sequence, “The Portrait”, will open this topic in an explicit way. DGR will elaborate the topic more thoroughly in the 1881 version of The House of Life, which contains the Old and New Art sonnets.

Textual History: Composition

Various dates have been suggested: “Before April 1870” (see Peattie, Letters of William Michael Rossetti 6 ); “?1868-1870” (Baum, The House of Life, 78 ; following Tisdel); 1870 (Fredeman, “Rossetti's ‘In Memoriam’” ). The poem must have been written before early October 1869 since it appears in the First Trial Book (early October 1869). It was probably written expressly for the evolving sequence of The House of Life, and so may be assigned to August-September 1869. The only surviving manuscript is the draft in the Fitzwilliam composite “House of Life” manuscript.

Textual History: Revision

Except for the changed title, the poem undergoes no important revisions after it appears in print in the First Trial Book in October 1869.


The allegorical form of this sonnet grounds its iconographical structure. DGR gains an especially startling effect, however, because the sonnet focuses on musical ideas. The interaction of these two schema establishes a synaesthesia at a remarkably abstract level.

Printing History

First printed in the First Trial Book (early October 1869) and kept through the remainder of the proofs for the 1870 Poems, where it was first published, and retained in the corpus thereafter. It is The House of Life Sonnet VIII in the 1870 volume, and Sonnet IX in 1881.


Like Love's Lovers, this poem is a highly mannered act of homage to stil novisti and Petrarchan verse.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 3-1870.raw.xml