Cecco d'Angiolieri, da Siena. “Sonnet (to Dante Alighieri). He writes Dante, then in exile at Verona, defying him as no better than himself.”

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

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


“Introduction to Part II” (in Early Italian Poets) 212-217

◦ Lanza, ed., Rime. Cecco Angiolieri, 219-220

◦ Massera, ed., Sonetti Burleschi e Realistici, I. 131 (II. 134-135)


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the The Early Italian Poets Text.

Scholarly Commentary


It appears that Cecco's sonnet is a fierce rejoinder to one or more sonnets that Dante wrote against Cecco and his way of life. Those poems, if in fact they existed, are lost.

DGR's poem isn't quite up to Cecco's original, but then Cecco's sonnet is one of his most acomplished works, as subtle as it is coarse and vigorous. Still DGR captures very well the keynote of the original's success: its remarkable self-clarity. Cecco's attack on Dante transcends its own invective partly by including himself in his portrait of a proud and bitter man, and partly by gesturing at the circumstances that have nourished such souls.

In this respect the translation is a nearly perfect example of what DGR called the art of “the inner standing-point”: a writing technique that sought to include the poetic first-person subject within the critical horizon of the poetic space. DGR cultivated this style in his own work throughout his life. It is a technique for escaping one of the most serious limitations of the romantic style handed down from the early nineteenth-century to later writers. (For an extended treatment of this subject see Mcgann (2000) .)

This is the last of the three sonnets written by Cecco to Dante and translated by DGR (see the commentary for “Dante Alighieri, Cecco, your good friend”). Cecco wrote the sonnet in 1303 or 1304 as is clear from the alluson to Dante's exile (line 8). DGR's source text was Raccolta di Rime Antiche Toscane (II. 153).

Textual History: Composition

Probably an early work, 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: 75d-1861.raw.xml