Rossetti, A Sonnet of Sonnets

The introduction to this collection of sonnets says that Rossetti uses the sonnet as a way to explain the immortalized and celebrated women, who “paid the exceptional penalty of exceptional honor.” As a result she paints a portrait that is in her eyes more realistic, even if it is “less dignified.” The first sonnet, just like the others are introduced using quotes from Dante and Petrarca. In the sonnet, the narrator begs her love to come back to her. Though they are not likely to be united soon, “and long it is before you come again,” the narrator indicates that if he did not return then they, as a couple, are over until he comes, “or, not yet, for it is over and then.” There is an interesting use of repetition in the line “when you come not, what I do I do.” This line can be interpreted as the narrator saying that she resumes her previous way of life while her love is a way. There is also a preference to the sweetness of life in the last line where the narrator says, “but where are you now the songs I sang/when life was sweet because you call them sweet?” The last line references the first quotation by Dante, “that day when they said adieu to their sweet friends.”

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