Vox Ecclesiae, Vox Christi (Epigraph from Rev. vi 9-10)

Alternately titled: St. Bartholomew's Day in Paris, 24th August 1572

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1849
Rhyme: abbaabbacdecde
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: sonnet


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the DGR's 1881 Proof text.

Scholarly Commentary


WMR's note to the poem in his 1911 edition indicates the immediate social and political context in which this sonnet was originally conceived: “as a pendant to [WMR"S] composition. . .‘How Long, O Lord’ [and the latter's] sorrowful commemoration of the collapse. . .of various revolutionary movements in Europe, especially in Hungary.” The epigraph from the Book of Revelation is placed with DGR's poem to give the source for the refrain that both sonnets use. It seems to be WMR's addition and not DGR's, just as the title supplied in 1911—“Vox Ecclesiae, Vox Christi” —appears to be attributable to WMR.

DGR did not publish the sonnet, which was to have been one of several he and the other PRB members planned to write under the heading “For the Things of These Days“. This project was rejected on principle in November 1849 by the PRB, which decided it would avoid all political issues in its publication. The prohibition included WMR's sonnet ‘How Long, O Lord’. However, that sonnet was published in the last number of The Germ (no. 1, January. 1850, page 192). WMR never explained why DGR's companion sonnet wasn't printed. He also passes in silence an important later fact: that DGR had his sonnet set in type in May 1881 in the proofs for his forthcoming Ballads and Sonnets volume. In that setting the sonnet retains its social and political thrust, but is given a particularly anti-France inflection. Appearing there under the title “Saint Bartholomew's Day in Paris. (24th August 1572)”, it is set in a distinctly anti-Gallic context, being printed with “On a Handful of French Money”, “The Staircase of Notre Dame, Paris”, and “Place de la Bastille, Paris”.

Printing History

Intended to be published in the first number of The Germ, the sonnet was first set in type in the author's proofs for the 1881 Ballads and Sonnets. But DGR removed the sonnet after the initial proof so that it wasn't actually published until WMR's edition of 1886 (I. 265), where it comes with the epigraph and the “Vox Ecclesiae, Vox Christi” title.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 5-1849.raw.xml