Ciullo d'Alcamo. “Dialogue. Lover and Lady.”

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1846-1847
Rhyme: a4b3c4b3d 4b3
Meter: sestet, iambic; alternating trimeter and tetrameter
Genre: dialogue


“Table of Poets” in Early Italian Poets vol. 1, xxiii-xxiv.

◦ Valeriani and Lampredi,Poeti del primo secolovol. 1, 1-15.

◦ Panvini, Le Rime Della Scuola Sicilianavol. 1,169-176.

◦ Contini,Poeti del Duecento vol. 1, 175-185; vol. 2, 819


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the Dante and his CircleText.

Scholarly Commentary


DGR placed this translation at the head of both his 1861 and 1874 collections. The placement is significant for two reasons: first, it points to the important historical fact that the stil novo movement traced its roots back to the Sicilian school, of which Cielo (or “Ciullo”) D'Alcamo was an important member; and second, it subtley calls attention to the relation between DGR's own work and the early Italian writers of the dugento and trecento. The rhyme scheme of “The Blessed Damozel”, then and still DGR's signature poem, follows the scheme of Ciello's dialogue (but excluding the final couplet) as DGR knew the poem from his source text in Poeti del Primo Secolo (I. 1-15).

The translation often moves in quasi-prose rhythms and might therefore be judged a clumsy effort. These seem to me studied effects, however, designed to imitate the character of the original work, which is anything but smooth, with none of the sophisticated elegance of the later stil novo style.

Textual History: Composition

The date of this translation can be confidently dated 1846-47 because of the metrical relation between Cielo's dialogue and DGR's “The Blessed Damozel”.

Printing History

The translation was first published in 1861 in The Early Italian Poets; it was reprinted in 1874 in Dante and his Circle.


A drawing for this poem exists which seems to be by DGR.


DGR's discussion of his source text dates Ciello's dialogue poem much too early. It was composed sometime between 1231-1250. Dante quotes from his verse in the De Volgari Eloquio (I.xii.6), citing the work as an example of an early Sicilian style.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 3d-1861.raw.xml