Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the Germ text.
On 19 December 1849 as the first number of The Germ was being prepared for press, WMR noted in his PRB
diary that Ford Madox Brown brought this sonnet for the number (see
WMRprb 34). Unlike the poems by Woolner, which opened the first number
of The Germ immediately preceding this
sonnet, Brown makes no effort to construct a pastiche of a more
primitive poetic style. The formal contemporaneity of the sonnet
underscores its relation to Pre-Raphaelitism as a set of cultural
attitudes consciously seeking inspiration in earlier materials.
The argument of the sestet is especially interesting. It
intimates a relation between the artist and an ideal Nature that is
mediated by an intense love-relation with a beloved woman—in this
case, Boccaccio's Fiammetta. The thought parallels a characteristic
pattern of DGR's thinking.
The historical Fiammetta was reputed to be Maria d'Aquino,
the daughter of the Count and Countess of Aquino. He is said to have
met her and fallen in love with her in 1338 when he saw her in church.
This kind of biographical speculation was regularly accepted by
nineteenth-century readers like Brown and DGR, although now the formal
convention of such a love-relation has thrown these matters into serious
First printed in The
Germ 1, page 10.
DGR took an intense interest in Boccaccio's
Fiammetta, who is his Beatrice figure. He included six translations
of Boccaccio's sonnets in Appendix II of The Earlu
Italian Poets, including three sonnets dealing with Fiammetta.
There are as well two major pictorial works, Fiammetta (1866) and A Vision of
Fiammetta (1878), the latter a double work
accompanied by a sonnet, Fiammetta. (For a