Guido Cavalcanti. “Ballata. Concerning a Shepherd-maid.”

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1861
Rhyme: two piedi AB, sirima Bbx, refrain xb
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: ballata


“Introduction to Part II” (in The Early Italian Poets), 193-206

◦ Contini, Poeti de Duecento, II. 561-562

◦ Cassata, Guido Cavalcanti. Rime, 206-209


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


This splendid ballad draws an equally exquisite translation from DGR, who manages to stay quite close to the original in nearly every respect, including the complex rhyme scheme. Only in the penultimate line, which in Cavalcanti reads “gioa e dolzore,” does the translation's variance lose something important. On the other hand, DGR's “Joy's enchanted art” involves a remarkable addition to the poem, making explicit in the deftest way that the ballad is as much about writing poetry as it is about making love. DGR's source text, Cicciaporci (Ballata IX, page 24-25) is reliable.

Textual History: Composition

An early translation, 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: 106d-1861.raw.xml