Dante Gabriel Rossetti
The Sonnet (1870)


A sonnet is a moment’s monument,—


Memorial from the Soul’s eternity


To one dead deathless hour. Look that it be,


Whether for lustral rite or dire portent,


Of its own arduous fulness reverent:


Carve it in ivory or in ebony,


As Day or Night may rule; and let Time see


Its flowering crest impearled and orient.


A Sonnet is a coin: its face reveals


The soul,—its converse, to what Power ‘tis due:—


Whether for tribute to the august appeals


Of Life, or dower in Love’s high retinue,


It serve, or, ‘mid the dark wharf’s cavernous breath,


In Charon’s palm it pay the toll of Death.