DeRobertis and Contini eds., Dante. Opere Minori
This final sonnet in
Early Italian Poets is now regarded as at best
a dubious work by Dante, though it was printed as Dante's
in DGR's source text, Fraticelli's
Opere Minori di Dante Alighieri (I. 160).
DGR clearly places it here, as his note to the poem suggests, to
culminate the implicit argument that runs through the whole of DGR's book of translations.
The sonnet's significance is closely bound up with the
preceding sonnet by Giovanni Quirino, to which this is
a response. The argument of Quirino's poem is that Dante's exemplary work throws his own into
eclipse, not least of all because Quirino's belated world seems bereft of Dante's ideal visions.
One can hardly fail to see how DGR is using Quirino's sonnet as a premonitory comment on
DGR's mid-Victorian circumstances: the Quirino sonnet clearly has much in common with such
DGR poems as “On Refusal
of Aid between Nations” (written about the same time as this translation).
In this context, then, DGR uses the Dantescan response sonnet to reaffirm
a commitment to ideal values. Dante himself, in the myth DGR is recapitulating here, has
experienced the full force of the power of a corrupted world. “At the approach of Death”,
however, as the sonnet argues, the great Florentine urges Quirino to resist the despair that looms at him
through his circumstances.
An early translation, probably late 1840s.
The translation was first published in 1861 in
Early Italian Poets; it was reprinted in 1874 in
and his Circle.