On a Handful of French Money

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1849
Rhyme: abbaaccadeffed
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: sonnet

Scholarly Commentary


The sonnet should be compared with the much later and more famous “Introductory Sonnet” written for the 1881 “House of Life”, which also makes a deliberately polemical statement about the function of art in the context of a world seen to be ruled by money and the apparatuses of cultural power. In this case DGR's social and political interests are much more active and they give his poem, like many of the other poems he wrote on his trip to Europe in the fall of 1849, a sharp, even satiric, edge.

Textual History: Composition

Two manuscripts are extant: a draft at Duke University in DGR's manuscript of his 1849 “Travel Sonnets”; and a fair copy, made much later, in the Lilly Library. It is clear that WMR, who first printed the poem, did not know the latter document, but printed from the Duke copy. The latter is not, however, the best copy to use, and it has clear differences from DGR's late fair copy—not the least of which is the different prosodic organization. The Lilly manuscript was in fact printer's copy for the text that was printed in the first proof for Signature Y of the 1881 Ballads and Sonnets

Printing History

First printed in May 1881 in the first proof for Signature Y of the 1881 Ballads and Sonnets. The sonnet was removed in course of the proofing, however, and hence was not published until 1898 by WMR in “Some Scraps of Verse and Prose”. It was thence collected in 1911.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 16-1849.raw.xml