Beauty's Pageant

Alternately titled: Love's Pageant

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

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


◦ WMR, DGR Designer and Writer, 195-196

◦ Baum, ed., House of Life, 90-91

Scholarly Commentary


Baum's commentary calls attention to the problems that arise when a biographical line of interpretation is closely pursued. The sonnet was in fact written about Mrs. Morris in 1871, but in the sequence it appears to reference the Beloved (i.e., DGR's wife). The phrase “Parted again” undermines the latter reading when it is structured along strictly biographical lines (but not otherwise).

The sonnet's artificiality, which is flaunted, is of course deliberate and thematic: it comes here to anticipate the argument of the next sonnet, “Genius in Beauty”, which itself directly connects to “The Portrait” sonnet earlier.

Textual History: Composition

Four manuscripts survive. The earliest is the fair copy, with some small revisions and an alternate reading, in the Beinecke Library, Yale University. The two other are holograph fair copies at Princeton and at the Bodleian in the “Kelmscott Love Sonnets” group. Finally, there is the May Morris copy in the Fitzwilliam Museum's composite manuscript of “The House of Life”.

Printing History

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

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 5-1871.raw.xml