Messer Dante a Messer Bruno

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1867
Rhyme: abbaaccadedede
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: parody (sonnet)


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the Duke Manuscript text.

Scholarly Commentary


This is one of DGR's many parodies—a genre he (like Swinburne) was particularly fond of, not least of all when the works were self-parodies. Here DGR is recalling the Italian sonnetti in risposta that were so much practiced in the Italian Renaissance, and that are in fact a featured form in his own 1861 collection of translations The Early Italian Poets (see for example the sonnet exchanges between Dante and Cino). As DGR remarked in his letter to Ford Madox Ford, which contains one of the two surviving manuscrip texts of the poem, it was written “in a cavilling spirit worthy of Italian correspondence”. His note to the other fair copy manuscript of the poem indicates more particularly that he wrote it “to Ford Madox Brown, in answer to a jocular Italian letter, in which he translated the name of ‘Dunn’ as ‘Fatto’.” Brown was making fun of DGR's studio assistant Henry Treffry Dunn.

The text of the poem published by WMR follows the letter manuscript text, not the other fair copy. WMR edited his copy text slightly.

Textual History: Composition

WMR dates the poem “not before [18]67” in a note to the Duke University manuscript. Later he dated it specifically 24 October 1867 in his 1906 Classified Lists, evidently after he had seen the text in DGR's letter of that date to Ford Madox Brown.

Printing History

First printed in 1903 in WMR's Rossetti Papers (page 273) and collected thereafter.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 4-1867.raw.xml