The Evil Under the Sun

William Michael Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1849
Rhyme: a5b5b5a5 a5b5b5a5c5 d5e5e5c5d5
Meter: iambic
Genre: sonnet


◦ Fredeman 145-148


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

Scholarly Commentary


WMR's sonnet is the last work in the final number of The Germ. In his Introduction to the 1901 facsimile he explains that he wrote the sonnet “when the great cause of the Hungarian insurrection against Austrian tyranny was, like revolutionary movements elsewhere, precipitating towards its fall. My original title for the sonnet was, ‘For the General Oppression of the Better by the Worse Cause, Autumn 1849.’ When the verse had to be published in The Germ, a magazine which did not aim at taking any side in politics, it was thought that this title was inappropriate, and the other was substituted. At a much later date the sonnet was reprinted with yet another and more significant title, ‘Democracy Downtrodden’” (page 27).

Printing History

Printed in The Germ no. 4, page 192. The sonnet was reprinted in T. Hall Caine, Sonnets of Three Centuries (1882) and William Sharp, Sonnets of This Century (1886). WMR republished it in his anthology of Democratic Sonnets (1907).

Electronic Archive Edition: 1