Heart's Haven

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1871
Rhyme: abbaabbacdcddc
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: sonnet


◦ WMR, DGR Designer and Writer, 198-199

◦ Baum, ed., House of Life, 97-98

Scholarly Commentary


The sonnet is interesting for its explicit declaration about the office that “Love” performs in the dynamic of eros and aesthesis being represented in “The House of Life” sequence. “Lulls us to rest with songs” is necessarily self-reflexive in context so that DGR's sonnet sequence itself is explicitly associated with a world of sleep and dreams. As such, the aesthetic realm functions as a device of (fantasy) protection against the traumas of the (apparently) waking, “real” world. In all of DGR's work, however, the latter is itself always perceived as socially traumatized, so that DGR's aesthetic fantasia functions ultimately as a revelatory device: a second-order dream world decodes the truth about the first-order dream world (commonly known under its mystified and fantastical name “reality”).

Textual History: Composition

Composed summer 1871 (before 13 August). Four complete manuscripts come down to us and a fifth must have existed. The earliest of these is the corrected copy in the Bancroft collection. The other manuscripts are the copies in the Fitzwilliam (with one correction), and two fair copies, one at Princeton, the other among the Kelmscott Love Sonnets in the Bodleian. DGR sent a copy to William Bell Scott in a letter of 13 August 1871 that Scott later printed in his Autobiographical Notes (page 146). Scott's transcript differs slightly from the received text of the sonnet.

Printing History

First published in the 1881 Ballads and Sonnets and collected thereafter.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 9-1871.raw.xml