The Staircase of Notre Dame, Paris

Alternately titled: On Climbing the Stairs of Notre-Dame

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1849 October
Rhyme: abbaaccadefdef
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: sonnet

Scholarly Commentary


Most of the sonnets that DGR wrote on his trip to Paris and Belgium with Hunt in 1849 were concerned with explicitly aesthetic issues, but some—like this one—dealt with the social and political situation in the aftermath of 1848. Though guarded enough, the social and political hope expressed in these lines is stronger than in any of DGR's other poems on such topics.

The poem is loosely connected with a group of works, many with an anti-Gallic inflection, that DGR wrote in 1849 (see “On a Handful of French Money”, “The Can-Can at Valentino's”, “Vox Ecclesiae, Vox Christi”, “The Staircase of Notre Dame, Paris”, and “Place de la Bastille, Paris”).

Textual History: Composition

The poem was one of sonnets DGR sent to his brother in his letter of 8 October 1849, which is the only manuscript that we know.

Printing History

DGR had the poem set in type for printing in the 1881 Ballads and Sonnets volume (see the first author's proof for Signature Y). He removed the poem during the proofing process so that it was only first published by WMR in his collected edition of 1886 (I.261).

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 14-1849.raw.xml