Gracious Moonlight

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

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


◦ WMR, DGR Designer and Writer, 197

◦ Baum, ed., House of Life, 93-94


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the Ballads and Sonnets first edition text.

Scholarly Commentary


The title works the word “Gracious” for its religious implication of “grace-giving”. The Beatricean “face” is represented here as an internalized fantasmal image ruling over the poet's, and specifically this poet's, imaginative life, as one speaks astrologically of each person's “ruling star”. This representation of the matter radically idealizes the situation and thus situates both the “real” woman and any artistic representation as second and third order images. The thought-structure is a neo-platonic derivation, but one must understand that DGR's use of this classical ideology is anything but classical. For DGR, first, second, and third order images precisely do not line up in a hierarchical order.

Textual History: Composition

Like many of DGR's sonnets, this one was built up through DGR's notebooks, where we find a series of fragmentary draft texts of various parts of the poem.Three manuscripts survive: the corrected fair copy at Princeton, the May Morris copy in the Fitzwilliam composite manuscript, and a second holograph fair copy in the Bodleian Library.

Printing History

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

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 8-1871.raw.xml