Dante Alighieri. “Sonnet. Of Beauty and Duty.”

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

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


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

◦ Foster and Boyd, Dante's Lyric Poetry, I.146-149 (II. 240-242) .

Scholarly Commentary


The graceful resolution in Dante's sonnet of the conflicting claims “Of Beauty and Duty” invest DGR's translation with a thematic inertia that will mutate and develop with DGR's life and career. This sonnet will thus carry different affective implications if it is read in the context of 1845-1855 or in a context after that. After the death of his wife, in fact, DGR's version of this conflict will grow tense and dark, and will in fact become the central subject investigated in “The House of Life” sonnet sequence. DGR's best-known treatent of this theme is of course in the paired double works “Soul's Beauty” and “Body's Beauty”.

The source text for DGR's translation was Fraticelli's Opere Minori di Dante Alighieri (I. 152).

Textual History: Composition

Probably an early translation, late 1840s.

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: 34d-1861.raw.xml