Guido Cavalcanti. “Sonnet. Of an ill-favoured Lady.”

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1848?
Rhyme: abbaabbacdecde
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: sonnet


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

◦ Contini, Poeti de Duecento, II. 566

◦ Cassata, Guido Cavalcanti. Rime, 234-235


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 kind of cruel burlesque poem is a common and perhaps inevitable transformation within any poetic genre of idealized eroticism. DGR's first quatrain is excellent but the sonnet grows awkward in the second and intellectually dissipated in the sestet. The translation follows Cavalcanti's rhyme scheme exactly—perhaps not a wise move in this case. The dialectal concreteness of the original is rich, witty, and strong. The source text, Cicciaporci (Sonnet XXV, page 13), is reliable except for a minor variance from received editions in line 10.

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: 119d-1861.raw.xml