The Lamp's Shrine

Alternately titled: The Love Lamp

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1871
Rhyme: abbaabbacddcee
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: sonnet


◦ WMR, DGR Designer and Writer, 206

◦ Baum, ed., House of Life, 113-114

Scholarly Commentary


The conceit of the sonnet is mannered and even Marinistic. Impossible to praise or even like, the sonnet's extreme artifice nonetheless exerts a certain fascination precisely because of its grotesque deliberation. Reading it one has the sense that its secret and perhaps proper meaning is purely aesthetic, and that it represents a critical comment on DGR's own artistic and poetic practice. The fascination comes from the naked and even performative candour with which DGR considers the ancient topos of art's inadequacy in face of the task of rendering a true representation of beauty.

Textual History: Composition

Six complete manuscripts come down to us as well as a draft fragment of lines 1-2. The earliest of these is the complete draft in the Ashley Library Notebook I. The other manuscripts are: two copies in the Princeton composite “House of Life” manuscript, a heavily corrected draft and a corrected fair copy; a fair copy in the Fitzwilliam composite “House of Life”; and another fair copy in the Bodleian Kelmscott Love Sonnets group. The fair copy in the library of the Delaware Art Museum was made as part of the preparations for the 1881 publication of the sonnet in the Ballads and Sonnets volume.

Printing History

First published in the 1881 Ballads and Sonnets and collected thereafter.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 20-1871.raw.xml