Dante Alighieri. “Canzone. He beseeches Death for the Life of Beatrice.”

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1845-1849
Rhyme: abcabccddeffegg
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: canzone


◦ Sapengo 181-184

Scholarly Commentary


DGR's source text, Fraticelli (I. 13-16), wrongly attributes this canzone to Dante. Its author is in fact the late 13th-century Florentine notary Jacopo Cecchi, who wrote the poem as a conscious imitation of Dante. The attribution to Dante was not questioned until DGR's period, in fact, and DGR removed it from his 1874 republication because of the new scholarship. He replaced the canzone with another, the canzone “A Complaint of his Lady's scorn”—which, however, is not by Dante either.

In DGR's hands the canzone acquires the kind of second-order meaning that pervades all the texts of the Vita Nuova—a form of significance only heightened by the fact that the canzone is by Cecchi and not Dante. Death and the Lady, in this horizon, symbolize (respectively) the historical circumstances that threaten to erase the efficacy of Dante's poetry—ultimately, of art and poetry in general.

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 not reprinted in 1874.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 7d-1861.raw.xml