Winged Hours

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1869
Rhyme: abbaabbacddcee
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: sonnet


◦ Baum, ed., The House of Life 100-102

◦ WMR, Dante Gabriel Rossetti as Designer and Writer. 200-201


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

Scholarly Commentary


This sonnet follows closely the motifs first touched in “Bridal Birth” and “Lovesight”. Most relevant are the images of the bird of Love and the grove or covert where the drama of Love is intimately played out.

As Baum observes, “The note of foreboding, first sounded in [‘Lovesight’] . . . returns now clearly” (see Poems, Ballads, and Sonnets 276n ). Because of the intimate relation DGR draws between love and art/poetry—a relation underscored in this sonnet with the wordplay in lines 4 and 11— the threat to love intimated here is equally imagined as a threat to the imagination.

Textual History: Composition

Although we have no certain evidence of the fact, this sonnet was almost certainly written in early 1869—one of the new pieces he composed for publication in the March Fortnightly Review. A draft copy is preserved in the Princeton composite “House of Life” manuscript.

Textual History: Revision

The text underwent some revisions between its initial printing in March 1869 and its final authorial constitution in 1881.

Printing History

First printed as Sonnet IX in the initial Fortnightly Review sequence of sonnets (March 1869) of The House of Life project. It was printed again in the Penkill Proofs in August and kept through all prepublication texts until its publication in the 1870 Poems. The sonnet is number XXV in The House of Life as published in the 1870 volume, and number XXV in the sequence as published in 1881.


Recurring to the stil novisti image of the embowered bird (a trope of Love), which figures regularly in the sequence, DGR underscores his attempt to relate his own passage through “the difficult deeps of love” (“Heart's Hope” line 2) to his Italian and specifically Dantean heritage. Also, the tree/leaf/bough images owe a good deal to Petrarch here and throughout the sequence.


Baum rightly observes that “Autobiography is unmistakable here, but not unambiguous” (see Baum, The House of Life 101 )—by which he means that the sonnet can be read both in relation to DGR's wife and to Jane Morris.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 7-1869.raw.xml