Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Poems (1870): Proofs for first edition
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1870 March 1-7
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Strangeways and Walden

The full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.

Image of page [outer binding] page: [outer binding]
page: [endpaperrecto]
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Note: Blank page with letter affixed. Nine by seven inch piece of stationary folded in half. Watermark "J ALLEN/EXTRA SUPER." Text of letter on front of first half. Letter folded in thirds.
16 Cheyne Walk
My dear Skelton

I'm sending you the

proofs at last today—

couldn't get them before.

If too late, it will have

to be put off to the June

number, as I know

the calls on your time

must be many, & how

the thing does come out

should be specially sorry

if you were forced to

hurry your notice.

Ever yours
DG Rossetti
I'm going into the country

for 3 weeks & may perhaps

add a little more. I publish in April.

Manuscript Addition: 5 March 70
Editorial Description: written in pencil below the address line
Editorial Note: WMR's hand?
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Manuscript Addition: Proof Sheets / Lent to me by the author / the Poems were afterwards / re-arranged before publication
Editorial Description: Pencil on upper half of page written by John Skelton
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  • Strangeways and Walden, Printers,
  • Castle St. Leicester Sq.
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  • TO
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[Many poems in this volume were written between

1847 and 1853. Others are of recent date, and a few belong

to the intervening period. It has been thought unnecessary

to specify the earlier work, as nothing is included which the

author believes to be immature.]
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Sig. B

  • Heavenborn Helen, Sparta's queen,
  • ( O Troy Town!)
  • Had two breasts of heavenly sheen,
  • The sun and moon of the heart's desire:
  • All Love's lordship lay between.
  • ( O Troy's down,
  • Tall Troy's on fire!)
  • Helen knelt at Venus' shrine,
  • ( O Troy Town!)
  • 10Saying, ‘A little gift is mine,
  • A little gift for a heart's desire.
  • Hear me speak and make me a sign!
  • ( O Troy's down,
  • Tall Troy's on fire!)
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  • ‘Look, I bring thee a carven cup;
  • ( O Troy Town!)
  • See it here as I hold it up,—
  • Shaped it is to the heart's desire,
  • Fit to fill when the gods would sup.
  • 20 ( O Troy's down,
  • Tall Troy's on fire!'
  • ‘It was moulded like my breast;
  • ( O Troy Town!)
  • He that sees it may not rest,
  • Rest at all for his heart's desire.
  • O give ear to my heart's behest!
  • ( O Troy's down,
  • Tall Troy's on fire!)
  • ‘See my breast, how like it is;
  • 30 ( O Troy Town!)
  • See it bare for the air to kiss!
  • Is the cup to thy heart's desire?
  • O for the breast, O make it his!
  • ( O Troy's down,
  • Tall Troy's on fire!)
Image of page 3 page: 3
  • ‘Yea, for my bosom here I sue;
  • ( O Troy Town!)
  • Thou must give it where 'tis due,
  • Give it there to the heart's desire.
  • 40Whom do I give my bosom to?
  • ( O Troy's down,
  • Tall Troy's on fire!)
  • ‘Each twin breast is an apple sweet!
  • ( O Troy Town!)
  • Once an apple stirred the beat
  • Of thy heart with the heart's desire:—
  • Say, who brought it then to thy feet?
  • ( O Troy's down,
  • Tall Troy's on fire!)
  • 50‘They that claimed it then were three:
  • ( O Troy Town!)
  • For thy sake two hearts did he
  • Make forlorn of the heart's desire.
  • Do for him as he did for thee!
  • ( O Troy's down,
  • Tall Troy's on fire!)
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  • ‘Mine are apples grown to the south,
  • ( O Troy Town!)
  • Grown to taste in the days of drouth,
  • 60Taste and waste to the heart's desire:
  • Mine are apples meet for his mouth!’
  • ( O Troy's down,
  • Tall Troy's on fire!)
  • Venus looked on Helen's gift,
  • ( O Troy Town!)
  • Looked and smiled with subtle drift,
  • Saw the work of her heart's desire:—
  • ‘There thou kneel'st for Love to lift!’
  • ( O Troy's down,
  • 70 Tall Troy's on fire!)
  • Venus looked in Helen's face,
  • ( O Troy Town!)
  • Knew far off an hour and place,
  • And fire lit from the heart's desire;
  • Laughed and said, ‘Thy gift hath grace!’
  • ( O Troy's down,
  • Tall Troy's on fire!)
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  • Cupid looked on Helen's breast,
  • ( O Troy Town!)
  • 80Saw the heart within its nest,
  • Saw the flame of the heart's desire,—
  • Marked his arrow's burning crest.
  • ( O Troy's down,
  • Tall Troy's on fire!)
  • Cupid took another dart,
  • ( O Troy Town!)
  • Fledged it for another heart,
  • Winged the shaft with the heart's desire,
  • Drew the string and said, ‘Depart!’
  • 90 ( O Troy's down,
  • Tall Troy's on fire!)
  • Paris turned upon his bed,
  • ( O Troy Town!)
  • Turned upon his bed and said,
  • Dead at heart with the heart's desire,—
  • ‘O to clasp her golden head!’
  • ( O Troy's down,
  • Tall Troy's on fire!)
Manuscript Addition: subtle diagnosis of the causes
Editorial Description: bottom of page in pencil
Editorial Note: In the hand of John Skelton
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Note: There is an ink line drawn in the margin down the left side of the poem. Also a pencilled "X" on the left side of the first two lines of the third stanza, located at the bottom of the page.
  • The blessed damozel leaned out
  • From the gold bar of Heaven;
  • Her eyes were deeper than the depth
  • Of waters stilled at even;
  • She had three lilies in her hand,
  • And the stars in her hair were seven.
  • Her robe, ungirt from clasp to hem,
  • No wrought flowers did adorn,
  • But a white rose of Mary's gift,
  • 10 For a service meetly worn;
  • Her hair that lay along her back
  • Was yellow like ripe corn.
  • Herseemed she scarce had been a day
  • One of God's choristers;
  • Image of page 7 page: 7
    Note: There is an ink line drawn in the margin down the right side of the page. Also some lines are underlined with ink, as indicated in the transcription below. There are two pencil marks, one each, to the right of the underlined lines.
  • The wonder was not yet quite gone
  • From that still look of hers;
  • Albeit, to them she left, her day
  • Had counted as ten years.
  • (To one, it is ten years of years.
  • 20 . . . Yet now, and in this place,
  • Surely she lean'd o'er me—her hair
  • Fell all about my face. . . .
  • Nothing: the autumn fall of leaves.
  • The whole year sets apace.)
  • It was the rampart of God's house
  • That she was standing on;
  • By God built over the sheer depth
  • The which is Space begun;
  • So high, that looking downward thence
  • 30 She scarce could see the sun.
  • It lies in Heaven, across the flood
  • Of ether, as a bridge.
  • Beneath, the tides of day and night
  • With flame and darkness ridge
  • The void, as low as where this earth
  • Spins like a fretful midge.
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Note: There is an ink line drawn in the margin down the left side of the page. Also some lines are underlined with ink, as indicated in the transcription below. There are two pencil marks, one each, to the left of the first two underlined sections.
  • Heard hardly, some of her new friends
  • Amid their loving games
  • Spake evermore among themselves
  • 40 Their virginal chaste names;
  • And the souls mounting up to God
  • Went by her like thin flames.
  • And still she bowed herself and stooped
  • Out of the circling charm;
  • Until her bosom must have made
  • The bar she leaned on warm,
  • And the lilies lay as if asleep
  • Along her bended arm.
  • From the fixed place of Heaven she saw
  • 50 Time like a pulse shake fierce
  • Through all the worlds. Her gaze still strove
  • Within the gulf to pierce
  • Its path; and now she spoke as when
  • The stars sang in their spheres.
  • The sun was gone now; the curled moon
  • Was like a little feather
  • Fluttering far down the gulf; and now
  • She spoke through the still weather.
  • Image of page 9 page: 9
    Note: There is an ink line drawn in the margin down the right side of the page. One line is underlined, as indicated in the transcription below. There is an ink mark in the margin to the right of the first two lines, a pencil mark to the right of the underlined line, and an ink mark next to the end of the last full stanza on the page.
  • Her voice was like the voice the stars
  • 60 Had when they sang together.
  • (Ah Sweet! Just now, in that bird's song,
  • Strove not her accents there,
  • Fain to be hearkened? When those bells
  • Possessed the mid-day air,
  • Strove not her steps to reach my side
  • Down all the echoing stair?)
  • ‘I wish that he were come to me,
  • For he will come,’ she said.
  • ‘Have I not prayed in Heaven?—on earth,
  • 70 Lord, Lord, has he not pray'd?
  • Are not two prayers a perfect strength?
  • And shall I feel afraid?
  • ‘When round his head the aureole clings,
  • And he is clothed in white,
  • I'll take his hand and go with him
  • To the deep wells of light;
  • We will step down as to a stream,
  • And bathe there in God's sight.
  • ‘We two will stand beside that shrine,
  • 80 Occult, withheld, untrod,
  • Image of page 10 page: 10
    Note: There are two ink lines drawn down the side of the left margin along the first and last stanzas on the page. There is a right single quote written in ink at the end of the first stanza. There is a pencil line drawn down the left margin along the second and third stanzas on the page, and the word “Omit” is written in pencil also, to the left of that line. The lines of the last stanza are all underlined in ink, as indicated in the transcription below.
  • Whose lamps are stirred continually
  • With prayer sent up to God;
  • And see our old prayers, granted, melt
  • Each like a little cloud.
  • ‘We two will lie i'the shadow of
  • That living mystic tree
  • Within whose secret growth the Dove
  • Is sometimes felt to be,
  • While every leaf that His plumes touch
  • 90 Saith His Name audibly.
  • ‘And I myself will teach to him,
  • I myself, lying so,
  • The songs I sing here; which his voice
  • Shall pause in, hushed and slow,
  • And find some knowledge at each pause,
  • Or some new thing to know.’
  • (Alas! We two, we two, thou say'st!
  • Yea, one wast thou with me
  • That once of old. But shall God lift
  • 100 To endless unity
  • The soul whose likeness with thy soul
  • Was but its love for thee?)
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Note: There is an ink line drawn down the right margin of the page. The last two lines on the page are underlined in ink, as indicated in the transcription below. There is a pencil check mark to the right of the first underlined line.
  • ‘We two,’ she said, ‘will seek the groves
  • Where the lady Mary is,
  • With her five handmaidens, whose names
  • Are five sweet symphonies,
  • Cecily, Gertrude, Magdalen,
  • Margaret, and Rosalys.
  • ‘Circlewise sit they, with bound locks
  • 110 And foreheads garlanded;
  • Into the fine cloth white like flame
  • Weaving the golden thread,
  • To fashion the birth-robes for them
  • Who are just born, being dead.
  • ‘He shall fear, haply, and be dumb:
  • Then will I lay my cheek
  • To his, and tell about our love,
  • Not once abashed or weak:
  • And the dear Mother will approve
  • 120 My pride, and let me speak.
  • ‘Herself shall bring us, hand in hand,
  • To Him round whom all souls
  • Kneel, the clear-ranged unnumbered heads
  • Bowed with their aureoles:
  • Image of page 12 page: 12
    Note: There is an ink line drawn down the left side of the page in the margin. The fifth and sixth lines of the penultimate stanza on the page are underlined in ink, and a slash is pencilled in the left margin between the underlined lines and the vertical ink line.
  • And angels meeting us shall sing
  • To their citherns and citoles.
  • ‘There will I ask of Christ the Lord
  • Thus much for him and me:—
  • Only to live as once on earth
  • 130 With Love,—only to be,
  • As then awhile, for ever now
  • Together, I and he.’
  • She gazed and listened and then said,
  • Less sad of speech than mild,—
  • ‘All this is when he comes.’ She ceased.
  • The light thrilled towards her, fill'd
  • With angels in strong level flight.
  • Her eyes prayed, and she smil'd.
  • (I saw her smile). But soon their path
  • 140 Was vague in distant spheres:
  • And then she cast her arms along
  • The golden barriers,
  • And laid her face between her hands,
  • And wept. (I heard her tears.)
Manuscript Addition: clear views into the unseen world— / some of the touches worthy of Dante / or Milton
Editorial Description: pencil, bottom of the page, probably Skelton's hand
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  • Master of the murmuring courts
  • Where the shapes of sleep convene!—
  • Lo! my spirit here exhorts
  • All the powers of thy demesne
  • For their aid to woo my queen.
  • What reports
  • Yield thy jealous courts unseen?
  • Vaporous, unaccountable,
  • Dreamland lies forlorn of light,
  • 10Hollow like a breathing shell.
  • Ah! that from all dreams I might
  • Choose one dream and guide its flight!
  • I know well
  • What her sleep should tell to-night.
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  • There the dreams are multitudes:
  • Some whose bouyance waits not sleep,
  • Deep within the August woods;
  • Some that hum while rest may steep
  • Weary labour laid a-heap;
  • 20 Interludes,
  • Some, of grievous moods that weep.
  • Poets' fancies all are there:
  • There the elf-girls flood with wings
  • Valleys full of plaintive air;
  • There breathe perfumes; there in rings
  • Whirl the foam-bewildered springs;
  • Siren there
  • Winds her dizzy hair and sings.
  • Thence the one dream mutually
  • 30 Dreamed in bridal unison,
  • Less than waking ecstasy;
  • Half-formed visions that make moan
  • In the house of birth alone;
  • And what we
  • At death's wicket see, unknown.
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  • But for mine own sleep, it lies
  • In one gracious form's control,
  • Fair with honorable eyes,
  • Lamps of an auspicious soul:
  • 40 O their glance is loftiest dole,
  • Sweet and wise,
  • Wherein Love descries his goal.
  • Reft of her, my dreams are all
  • Clammy trance that fears the sky:
  • Changing footpaths shift and fall;
  • From polluted coverts nigh,
  • Miserable phantoms sigh;
  • Quakes the pall,
  • And the funeral goes by.
  • 50Master, it is soothly said
  • That, as echoes of man's speech
  • Far in secret clefts are made,
  • So do all men's bodies reach
  • Shadows o'er thy sunken beach,—
  • Shape or shade
  • In those halls pourtrayed of each?
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  • Ah! might I, by thy good grace
  • Groping in the windy stair,
  • (Darkness and the breath of space
  • 60 Like loud waters everywhere,)
  • Meeting mine own image there
  • Face to face,
  • Send it from that place to her!
  • Nay, not I; but oh! do thou,
  • Master, from thy shadowkind
  • Call my body's phantom now:
  • Bid it bear its face declin'd
  • Till its flight her slumbers find,
  • And her brow
  • 70Feel its presence bow like wind.
  • Where in groves the gracile Spring
  • Trembles, with mute orison
  • Confidently strengthening,
  • Water's voice and wind's as one
  • Shed an echo in the sun.
  • Soft as Spring,
  • Master, bid it sing and moan.
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Sig. C
  • Song shall tell how glad and strong
  • Is the night she soothes alway;
  • 80Moan shall grieve with that parched tongue
  • Of the brazen hours of day:
  • Sounds as of the springtide they,
  • Moan and song,
  • While the chill months long for May.
  • Not the prayers which with all leave
  • The world's fluent woes prefer,—
  • Not the praise the world doth give,
  • Dulcet fulsome whisperer;—
  • Let it yield my love to her,
  • 90 And achieve
  • Strength that shall not grieve or err.
  • Wheresoe'er my dreams befall,
  • Both at night-watch, (let it say,)
  • And where round the sundial
  • The reluctant hours of day,
  • Heartless, hopeless of their way,
  • Rest and call;—
  • There her glance doth fall and stay.
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Note: There is a pencil slash in the left margin next to the third and fourth lines of the first stanza on this page. There are two ink smears, one the word “ah” in the first line of the last stanza, and another below the word “another” in the next line.
  • Suddenly her face is there:
  • 100 So do mounting vapours wreathe
  • Subtle-scented transports where
  • The black firwood sets its teeth.
  • Part the boughs and look beneath,—
  • Lilies share
  • Secret waters there, and breathe.
  • Master, bid my shadow bend
  • Whispering thus till birth of light,
  • Lest new shapes that sleep may send
  • Scatter all its work to flight;—
  • 110 Master, master of the night,
  • Bid it spend
  • Speech, song, prayer, and end aright.
  • Yet, ah me! if at her head
  • There another phantom lean
  • Murmuring o'er the fragrant bed,—
  • Ah! and if my spirit's queen
  • Smile those alien words between,—
  • Ah! poor shade!
  • Shall it strive, or fade unseen?
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  • 120Like a vapour wan and mute,
  • Like a flame, so let it pass;
  • One low sigh across her lute,
  • One dull breath against her glass;
  • And to my sad soul, alas!
  • One salute
  • Cold as when death's foot shall pass.
  • How should love's own messenger
  • Strive with love and be love's foe?
  • Master, nay! If thus, in her,
  • 130 Sleep a wedded heart should show,—
  • Silent let mine image go,
  • Its old share
  • Of thy sunken air to know.
  • Then, too, let all hopes of mine,
  • All vain hopes by night and day,
  • Slowly at thy summoning sign
  • Rise up pallid and obey.
  • Dreams, if this is thus, were they:—
  • Be they thine,
  • 140 And to dreamland pine away.
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  • Yet from old time, life, not death,
  • Master, in thy rule is rife:
  • Lo! through thee, with mingling breath,
  • Adam woke beside his wife.
  • O Love bring me so, for strife,
  • Force and faith,
  • Bring me so not death but life!
  • Yea, to Love himself is pour'd
  • This frail song of hope and fear.
  • 150Thou art Love, of one accord
  • With kind Sleep to bring her near,
  • Still-eyed, deep-eyed, ah how dear!
  • Master, Lord,
  • In her name implor'd, O hear!
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  • In our Museum galleries
  • To-day I lingered o'er the prize
  • Dead Greece vouchsafes to living eyes,—
  • Her Art for ever in fresh wise
  • From hour to hour rejoicing me.
  • Sighing I turned at last to win
  • Once more the London dirt and din;
  • And as I made the swing-door spin
  • And issued, they were hoisting in
  • 10 A wingèd beast from Nineveh.
  • A human face the creature wore,
  • And hoofs behind and hoofs before,
  • And flanks with dark runes fretted o'er.
  • 'Twas bull, 'twas mitred Minotaur,
  • A dead disbowelled mystery;
  • Image of page 22 page: 22
    Note: Pencil mark on left margin next to the first two lines of the second stanza on the page.
  • The mummy of a buried faith
  • Stark from the charnel without scathe,
  • Its wings stood for the light to bathe,—
  • Such fossil cerements as might swathe
  • 20 The very corpse of Nineveh.
  • The print of its first rush-wrapping,
  • Wound ere it dried, still ribbed the thing.
  • What song did the brown maidens sing,
  • From purple mouths alternating,
  • When that was woven languidly?
  • What vows, what rites, what prayers preferr'd,
  • What songs has the strange image heard?
  • In what blind vigil stood interr'd
  • For ages, till an English word
  • 30 Broke silence first at Nineveh?
  • Oh when upon each sculptured court,
  • Where even the wind might not resort,—
  • O'er which Time passed, of like import
  • With the wild Arab boys at sport,—
  • A living face looked in to see:—
  • Oh seemed it not—the spell once broke
  • As though the carven warriors woke,
    Image of page 23 page: 23
  • As though the shaft the string forsook,
  • The cymbals clashed, the chariots shook,
  • 40 And there was life in Nineveh?
  • On London stones our sun anew
  • The beast's recovered shadow threw.
  • (No shade that plague of darkness knew,
  • No light, no shade, while older grew
  • By ages the old earth and sea.)
  • Lo thou! could all thy priests have shown
  • Such proof to make thy godhead known?
  • From their dead Past thou liv'st alone;
  • And still thy shadow is thine own
  • 50 Even as of yore in Nineveh.
  • That day whereof we keep record,
  • When near thy city-gates the Lord
  • Sheltered his Jonah with a gourd,
  • This sun, (I said) here present, pour'd
  • Even thus this shadow that I see.
  • This shadow has been shed the same
  • From sun and moon,—from lamps which came
  • For prayer,—from fifteen days of flame,
  • The last, while smouldered to a name
  • 60 Sardanapalus' Nineveh.
Image of page 24 page: 24
  • Within thy shadow, haply, once
  • Sennacherib has knelt, whose sons
  • Smote him between the altar-stones:
  • Or pale Semiramis her zones
  • Of gold, her incense brought to thee,
  • In love for grace, in war for aid: . . . .
  • Ay, and who else? . . . . till 'neath thy shade
  • Within his trenches newly made
  • Last year the Christian knelt and pray'd—
  • 70 Not to thy strength—in Nineveh.*
  • Now, thou poor god, within this hall
  • Where the blank windows blind the wall
  • From pedestal to pedestal,
  • The kind of light shall on thee fall
  • Which London takes the day to be:
  • While school-foundations in the act
  • Of holiday, three files compact,
  • Shall learn to view thee as a fact
  • Connected with that zealous tract:
  • 80 ‘Rome,—Babylon and Nineveh.’
Transcribed Footnote (page 24):

*During the excavations, the Tiyari workmen held their ser-

vices in the shadow of the great bulls. ( Layard's ‘Nineveh,’ ch. ix.)

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Note: There is a pencil slash in the right margin next to the first two lines on the page.
  • Deemed they of this, those worshippers,
  • When, in some mythic chain of verse
  • Which man shall not again rehearse,
  • The faces of thy ministers
  • Yearned pale with bitter ecstasy?
  • Greece, Egypt, Rome,—did any god
  • Before whose feet men knelt unshod
  • Deem that in this unblest abode
  • Another scarce more unknown god
  • 90 Should house with him, from Nineveh?
  • Ah! in what quarries lay the stone
  • From which this pigmy pile has grown,
  • Unto man's need how long unknown,
  • Since thy vast temples, court and cone,
  • Rose far in desert history?
  • Ah! what is here that does not lie
  • All strange to thine awakened eye?
  • Ah! what is here can testify
  • (Save that dumb presence of the sky)
  • 100 Unto thy day and Nineveh?
  • Why, of those mummies in the room
  • Above, there might indeed have come
    Image of page 26 page: 26
  • One out of Egypt to thy home,
  • An alien. Nay, but were not some
  • Of these thine own ‘antiquity?’
  • And now,—they and their gods and thou
  • All relics here together,—now
  • Whose profit? whether bull or cow,
  • Isis or Ibis, who or how,
  • 110 Whether of Thebes or Nineveh?
  • The consecrated metals found,
  • And ivory tablets, underground,
  • Winged teraphim and creatures crown'd,
  • When air and daylight filled the mound,
  • Fell into dust immediately.
  • And even as these, the images
  • Of awe and worship,—even as these,—
  • So, smitten with the sun's increase,
  • Her glory mouldered and did cease
  • 120 From immemorial Nineveh.
  • The day her builders made their halt,
  • Those cities of the lake of salt
  • Stood firmly 'stablished without fault,
  • Made proud with pillars of basalt,
  • With sardonyx and porphyry.
    Image of page 27 page: 27
    Note: There is a pencil slash in the right margin next to the first line of the last stanza on this page.
  • The day that Jonah bore abroad
  • To Nineveh the voice of God,
  • A brackish lake lay in his road,
  • Where erst Pride fixed her sure abode,
  • 130 As then in royal Nineveh.
  • The day when he, Pride's lord and Man's,
  • Showed all the kingdoms at a glance
  • To Him before whose countenance
  • The years recede, the years advance,
  • And said, Fall down and worship me:—
  • 'Mid all the pomp beneath that look,
  • Then stirred there, haply, some rebuke,
  • Where to the wind the salt pools shook,
  • And in those tracts, of life forsook,
  • 140 That knew thee not, O Nineveh!
  • Delicate harlot! On thy throne
  • Thou with a world beneath thee prone
  • In state for ages sat'st alone;
  • And needs were years and lustres flown
  • Ere strength of man could vanquish thee:
  • Whom even thy victor foes must bring,
  • Still royal, among maids that sing
    Image of page 28 page: 28
  • As with doves' voices, taboring
  • Upon their breasts, unto the King,—
  • 150 A kingly conquest, Nineveh!
  • . . . Here woke my thought. The wind's slow sway
  • Had waxed; and like the human play
  • Of scorn that smiling spreads away,
  • The sunshine shivered off the day:
  • The callous wind, it seemed to me,
  • Swept up the shadow from the ground:
  • And pale as whom the Fates astound,
  • The god forlorn stood winged and crown'd:
  • Within I knew the cry lay bound
  • 160 Of the dumb soul of Nineveh.
  • And as I turned, my sense half shut
  • Still saw the crowds of kerb and rut
  • Go past as marshalled to the strut
  • Of ranks in gypsum quaintly cut.
  • It seemed in one same pageantry
  • They followed forms which had been erst;
  • To pass, till on my sight should burst
  • That future of the best or worst
  • When some may question which was first,
  • 170 Of London or of Nineveh.
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  • For as that Bull-god once did stand
  • And watched the burial-clouds of sand,
  • Till these at last without a hand
  • Rose o'er his eyes, another land,
  • And blinded him with destiny:—
  • So may he stand again; till now,
  • In ships of unknown sail and prow,
  • Some tribe of the Australian plough
  • Bear him afar,—a relic now
  • 180 Of London, not of Nineveh!
  • Or it may chance indeed that when
  • Man's age is hoary among men,—
  • His centuries threescore and ten,—
  • His furthest childhood shall seem then
  • More clear than later times may be:
  • Who, finding in this desert place
  • This form, shall hold us for some race
  • That walked not in Christ's lowly ways,
  • But bowed its pride and vowed its praise
  • 190 Unto the God of Nineveh.
  • The smile rose first,—anon drew nigh
  • The thought:... Those heavy wings spread high
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  • So sure of flight, which do not fly;
  • That set gaze never on the sky;
  • Those scriptured flanks it cannot see;
  • Its crown, a brow-contracting load;
  • Its planted feet which trust the sod:...
  • (So grew the image as I trod:)
  • O Nineveh, was this thy God,—
  • 200 Thine also, mighty Nineveh?
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  • It was Lilith the wife of Adam:
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • Not a drop of her blood was human,
  • But she was made like a soft sweet woman.
  • Lilith stood on the skirts of Eden;
  • ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • She was the first that thence was driven;
  • With her was hell and with Eve was heaven.
  • In the ear of the Snake said Lilith :—
  • 10 ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • ‘To thee I come when the rest is over;
  • A snake was I when thou wast my lover.
  • ‘I was the fairest snake in Eden:
  • ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • By the earth's will, new form and feature
  • Made me a wife for the earth's new creature.
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  • ‘Take me thou as I come from Adam:
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • Once again shall my love subdue thee;
  • 20The past is past and I am come to thee.
  • ‘O but Adam was thrall to Lilith!
  • ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • All the threads of my hair are golden,
  • And there in a net his heart was holden.
  • ‘O and Lilith was queen of Adam!
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • All the day and the night together
  • My breath could shake his soul like a feather.
  • ‘What great joys had Adam and Lilith!—
  • 30 ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • Sweet close rings of the serpent's twining,
  • As heart in heart lay sighing and pining.
  • ‘What bright babes had Lilith and Adam!—
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • Shapes that coiled in the woods and waters,
  • Glittering sons and radiant daughters.
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  • ‘O thou God, the Lord God of Eden!
  • ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • Say, was this fair body for no man,
  • 40That of Adam's flesh thou mak'st him a woman?
  • ‘O thou Snake, the King-snake of Eden!
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • God's strong will our necks are under,
  • But thou and I may cleave it in sunder.
  • ‘Help, sweet Snake, sweet lover of Lilith!
  • ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • And let God learn how I loved and hated
  • Man in the image of God created.
  • ‘Help me once against Eve and Adam!
  • 50 ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • Help me once for this one endeavour,
  • And then my love shall be thine for ever!
  • ‘Strong is God, the fell foe of Lilith:
  • ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • Nought in heaven or earth may affright him;
  • But join thou with me and we will smite him.
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  • ‘Strong is God, the great God of Eden:
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • Over all he made he hath power;
  • 60But lend me thou thy shape for an hour!
  • ‘Lend thy shape for the love of Lilith!
  • ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • Look, my mouth and my cheek are ruddy,
  • And thou art cold, and fire is my body.
  • ‘Lend thy shape for the hate of Adam!
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • That he may wail my joy that forsook him,
  • And curse the day when the bride-sleep took him.
  • ‘Lend thy shape for the shame of Eden!
  • 70 ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • Is not the foe-God weak as the foeman
  • When love grows hate in the heart of a woman?
  • ‘Would'st thou know the heart's hope of Lilith?
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • Then bring thou close thine head till it glisten
  • Along my breast, and lip me and listen.
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  • ‘Am I sweet, O sweet Snake of Eden?
  • ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • Then ope thine ear to my warm mouth's cooing
  • 80And learn what deed remains for our doing.
  • ‘Thou didst hear when God said to Adam:—
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • “Of all this wealth I have made thee warden;
  • Thou'rt free to eat of the trees of the garden:
  • ‘“Only of one tree eat not in Eden;
  • ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • All save one I give to thy freewill,—
  • The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
  • ‘O my love, come nearer to Lilith!
  • 90 ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • In thy sweet folds bind me and bend me,
  • And let me feel the shape thou shalt lend me!
  • ‘In thy shape I'll go back to Eden;
  • ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • In these coils that Tree will I grapple,
  • And stretch this crowned head forth by the apple.
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  • ‘Lo, Eve bends to the breath of Lilith!
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • O how then shall my heart desire
  • 100All her blood as food to its fire!
  • ‘Lo, Eve bends to the words of Lilith!—
  • ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • “Nay, this Tree's fruit,—why should ye hate it,
  • Or Death be born the day that ye ate it?
  • ‘“Nay, but on that great day in Eden,
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • By the help that in this wise Tree is,
  • God knows well ye shall be as He is.”
  • ‘Then Eve shall eat and give unto Adam;
  • 110 ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • And then they both shall know they are naked,
  • And their hearts ache as my heart hath achèd.
  • ‘Aye, let them hide in the trees of Eden,
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • As in the cool of the day in the garden
  • God shall walk without pity or pardon.
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  • ‘Hear, thou Eve, the man's heart in Adam!
  • ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • Of his brave words hark to the bravest:—
  • 120“This the woman gave that thou gavest.”
  • ‘Hear Eve speak, yea, list to her, Lilith!
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • Feast thine heart with words that shall sate it:—
  • “This the serpent gave and I ate it.”
  • ‘O proud Eve, cling close to thine Adam,
  • ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • Driven forth as the beasts of his naming
  • By the sword that for ever is flaming.
  • ‘Know, thy path is known unto Lilith!
  • 130 ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • While the blithe birds sang at thy wedding,
  • There her tears grew thorns for thy treading.
  • ‘O my love, thou Love-snake of Eden!
  • ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • O to-day and the day to come after!
  • Loose me, love,—give breath to my laughter!
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  • ‘O bright Snake, the Death-worm of Adam!
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • Wreathe thy neck with my hair's bright tether,
  • 140And wear my gold and thy gold together!
  • ‘On that day on the skirts of Eden,
  • ( And O the bower and the hour!
  • In thy shape shall I glide back to thee,
  • And in my shape for an instant view thee.
  • ‘But when thou'rt thou and Lilith is Lilith,
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • In what bliss past hearing or seeing
  • Shall each one drink of the other's being!
  • ‘With cries of “Eve!” and “Eden!” and “Adam!”
  • 150 ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • How shall we mingle our love's caresses,
  • I in thy coils, and thou in my tresses!
  • ‘With those names, ye echoes of Eden,
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • Fire shall cry from my heart that burneth,—
  • “Dust he is and to dust returneth!”
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  • ‘Yet to-day, thou master of Lilith,—
  • ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • Wrap me round in the form I'll borrow
  • 160And let me tell thee of sweet to-morrow.
  • ‘In the planted garden eastward in Eden,
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • Where the river goes forth to water the garden,
  • The springs shall dry and the soil shall harden.
  • ‘Yea, where the bride-sleep fell upon Adam,
  • ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • None shall hear when the storm-wind whistles
  • Through roses choked among thorns and thistles.
  • ‘Yea, beside the east-gate of Eden,
  • 170 ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • Where God joined them and none might sever,
  • The sword turns this way and that for ever.
  • ‘What of Adam cast out of Eden?
  • ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • Lo! with care like a shadow shaken,
  • He tills the hard earth whence he was taken.
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  • ‘What of Eve too, cast out of Eden?
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • Nay, but she, the bride of God's giving,
  • 180Must yet be mother of all men living.
  • ‘Lo, God's grace, by the grace of Lilith!
  • ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • To Eve's womb, from our sweet to-morrow,
  • God shall greatly multiply sorrow.
  • ‘Fold me fast, O God-snake of Eden!
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • What more prize than love to impel thee?
  • Grip and lip my limbs as I tell thee!
  • ‘Lo! two babes for Eve and for Adam!
  • 190 ( And O the bower and the hour!)
  • Lo! sweet Snake, the travail and treasure,—
  • Two men-children born for their pleasure!
  • ‘The first is Cain and the second Abel:
  • ( Eden bower's in flower.)
  • The soul of one shall be made thy brother,
  • And thy tongue shall lap the blood of the other.’
  • (And O the bower and the hour!)
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  • Mother of the Fair Delight,
  • Thou handmaid perfect in God's sight,
  • Now sitting fourth beside the Three,
  • Thyself a woman-Trinity,—
  • Being a daughter borne to God,
  • Mother of Christ from stall to rood,
  • And wife unto the Holy Ghost:—
  • Oh when our need is uttermost,
  • Think that to such as death may strike
  • 10Thou once wert sister sisterlike!
  • Thou headstone of humanity,
  • Groundstone of the great Mystery,
  • Fashioned like us, yet more than we!
  • Mind's thou not (when June's heavy breath
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  • Warmed the long days in Nazareth,)
  • That eve thou didst go forth to give
  • Thy flowers some drink that they might live
  • One faint night more amid the sands?
  • Far off the trees were as pale wands
  • 20Against the fervid sky: the sea
  • Sighed further off eternally
  • As human sorrow sighs in sleep.
  • Then suddenly the awe grew deep,
  • As of a day to which all days
  • Were footsteps in God's secret ways:
  • Until a folding sense, like prayer,
  • Which is, as God is, everywhere,
  • Gathered about thee; and a voice
  • Spake to thee without any noise,
  • 30Being of the silence:—‘Hail,’ it said,
  • ‘Thou that art highly favourèd;
  • The Lord is with thee here and now;
  • Blessed among all women thou.’
  • Ah! knew'st thou of the end, when first
  • That Babe was on thy bosom nurs'd?—
  • Or when He tottered round thy knee
  • Did thy great sorrow dawn on thee?—
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  • And through His boyhood, year by year
  • Eating with Him the Passover,
  • 40Didst thou discern confusedly
  • That holier sacrament, when He,
  • The bitter cup about to quaff,
  • Should break the bread and eat thereof?—
  • Or came not yet the knowledge, even
  • Till on some day forecast in Heaven
  • His feet passed through thy door to press
  • Upon His Father's business?—
  • Or still was God's high secret kept?
  • Nay, but I think the whisper crept
  • 50Like growth through childhood. Work and play,
  • Things common to the course of day,
  • Awed thee with meanings unfulfill'd;
  • And all through girlhood, something still'd
  • Thy senses like the birth of light,
  • When thou hast trimmed thy lamp at night
  • Or washed thy garments in the stream;
  • To whose white bed had come the dream
  • That He was thine and thou wast His
  • Who feeds among the field-lilies.
  • 60O solemn shadow of the end
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  • In that wise spirit long contain'd!
  • O awful end! and those unsaid
  • Long years when It was Finishèd!
  • Mind'st thou not (when the twilight gone
  • Left darkness in the house of John,)
  • Between the naked window-bars
  • That spacious vigil of the stars?—
  • For thou, a watcher even as they,
  • Wouldst rise from where throughout the day
  • 70Thou wroughtest raiment for His poor;
  • And, finding the fixed terms endure
  • Of day and night which never brought
  • Sounds of His coming chariot,
  • Wouldst lift through cloud-waste unexplor'd
  • Those eyes which said, ‘How long, O Lord?’
  • Then that disciple whom He loved,
  • Well heeding, haply would be moved
  • To ask thy blessing in His name;
  • And that one thought in both, the same
  • 80Though silent, then would clasp ye round
  • To weep together,—tears long bound,
  • Sick tears of patience, dumb and slow.
  • Yet, ‘Surely I come quickly,’—so
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  • He said, from life and death gone home.
  • “Amen: even so, Lord Jesus, come!”
  • But oh! what human tongue can speak
  • That day when death was sent to break
  • From the tir'd spirit, like a veil,
  • Its covenant with Gabriel
  • 90Endured at length unto the end?
  • What human thought can apprehend
  • That mystery of motherhood
  • When thy Beloved at length renew'd
  • The sweet communion severèd,—
  • His left hand underneath thine head
  • And His right hand embracing thee?—
  • Lo! He was thine, and this is He!
  • Soul, is it Faith, or Love, or Hope,
  • That lets me see her standing up
  • 100Where the light of the Throne is bright?
  • Unto the left, unto the right,
  • The cherubim, arrayed, conjoint,
  • Float inward to a golden point,
  • And from between the seraphim
  • The glory issues for a hymn.
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  • O Mary Mother, be not loth
  • To listen,—thou whom the stars clothe,
  • Who seëst and mayst not be seen!
  • Hear us at last, O Mary Queen!
  • 110Into our shadow bend thy face,
  • Bowing thee from the secret place,
  • O Mary Virgin, full of grace!
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  • ‘Who owns these lands?’ the Pilgrim said.
  • ‘Stranger, Queen Blanchelys.’
  • ‘And who has thus harried them?’ he said.
  • ‘It was Duke Luke did this:
  • God's ban be his!’
  • The Pilgrim said: ‘Where is your house?
  • I'll rest there, with your will.’
  • ‘You've but to climb these blackened boughs
  • And you'll see it over the hill,
  • 10 For it burns still.’
  • ‘Which road, to seek your Queen?’ said he.
  • ‘Nay, nay, but with some wound
  • You'll fly back hither, it may be,
  • And by your blood i'the ground
  • My place be found.’
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  • ‘Friend, stay in peace. God keep your head,
  • And mine, where I will go;
  • For He is here and there,’ he said.
  • He passed the hill-side, slow,
  • 20 And stood below.
  • The Queen sat idle by her loom:
  • She heard the arras stir,
  • And looked up sadly: through the room
  • The sweetness sickened her
  • Of musk and myrrh.
  • Her women, standing two and two,
  • In silence combed the fleece.
  • The pilgrim said, ‘Peace be with you,
  • Lady;’ and bent his knees.
  • 30 She answered, ‘Peace.’
  • Her eyes were like the wave within;
  • Like water-reeds the poise
  • Of her soft body, dainty thin;
  • And like the water's noise
  • Her plaintive voice.
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  • For him, the stream had never well'd
  • In desert tracts malign
  • So sweet; nor had he ever felt
  • So faint in the sunshine
  • 40 Of Palestine.
  • Right so, he knew that he saw weep
  • Each night through every dream
  • The Queen's own face, confused in sleep
  • With visages supreme
  • Not known to him.
  • ‘Lady,’ he said, ‘your lands lie burnt
  • And waste: to meet your foe
  • All fear: this I have seen and learnt.
  • Say that it shall be so,
  • 50 And I will go.’
  • She gazed at him. ‘Your cause is just,
  • For I have heard the same:’
  • He said: ‘God's strength shall be my trust.
  • Fall it to good or grame,
  • 'Tis in His name.’
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  • ‘Sir, you are thanked. My cause is dead.
  • Why should you toil to break
  • A grave, and fall therein?’ she said.
  • He did not pause but spake:
  • 60 ‘For my vow's sake.’
  • ‘Can such vows be, Sir—to God's ear,
  • Not to God's will?’ ‘My vow
  • Remains: God heard me there as here,’
  • He said with reverent brow,
  • ‘Both then and now.’
  • They gazed together, he and she,
  • The minute while he spoke;
  • And when he ceased, she suddenly
  • Looked round upon her folk
  • 70 As though she woke.
  • ‘Fight, Sir,’ she said: ‘my prayers in pain
  • Shall be your fellowship.’
  • He whispered one among her train,—
  • ‘Tomorrow bid her keep
  • This staff and scrip.’
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  • She sent him a sharp sword, whose belt
  • About his body there
  • As sweet as her own arms he felt.
  • He kissed its blade, all bare,
  • 80 Instead of her.
  • She sent him a green banner wrought
  • With one white lily stem,
  • To bind his lance with when he fought.
  • He writ upon the same
  • And kissed her name.
  • She sent him a white shield, whereon
  • She bade that he should trace
  • His will. He blent fair hues that shone,
  • And in a golden space
  • 90 He kissed her face.
  • Right so, the sunset skies unseal'd,
  • Like lands he never knew,
  • Beyond to-morrow's battle-field
  • Lay open out of view
  • To ride into.
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  • Next day till dark the women pray'd:
  • Nor any might know there
  • How the fight went: the Queen has bade
  • That there do come to her
  • 100 No messenger.
  • Weak now to them the voice o' the priest
  • As any trance affords;
  • And when each anthem failed and ceas'd,
  • It seemed that the last chords
  • Still sang the words.
  • ‘Oh what is the light that shines so red?
  • 'Tis long since the sun set;’
  • Quoth the youngest to the eldest maid:
  • ‘'Twas dim but now, and yet
  • 110 The light is great.’
  • Quoth the other: ‘'Tis our sight is dazed
  • That we see flame i'the air.’
  • But the Queen held her brows and gazed,
  • And said, ‘It is the glare
  • Of torches there.’
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  • ‘Oh what are the sounds that rise and spread?
  • All day it was so still;’
  • Quoth the youngest to the eldest maid;
  • ‘Unto the furthest hill
  • 120 The air they fill.’
  • Quoth the other; ‘'Tis our sense is blurr'd
  • With all the chants gone by.’
  • But the Queen held her breath and heard,
  • And said, ‘It is the cry
  • Of Victory.’
  • The first of all the rout was sound,
  • The next were dust and flame,
  • And then the horses shook the ground:
  • And in the thick of them
  • 130 A still band came.
  • ‘Oh what do ye bring out of the fight,
  • Thus hid beneath these boughs?’
  • ‘One that shall be thy guest to-night,
  • And yet shall not carouse,
  • Queen, in thy house.’
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  • ‘Uncover ye his face,’ she said.
  • ‘O changed in little space!’
  • She cried, ‘O pale that was so red!
  • O God, O God of grace!
  • 140 Cover his face.’
  • His sword was broken in his hand
  • Where he had kissed the blade.
  • ‘O soft steel that could not withstand!
  • O my hard heart unstayed,
  • That prayed and prayed!’
  • His bloodied banner crossed his mouth
  • Where he had kissed her name.
  • ‘O east, and west, and north, and south,
  • Fair flew my web, for shame,
  • 150 To guide Death's aim!’
  • The tints were shredded from his shield
  • Where he had kissed her face.
  • ‘Oh, of all gifts that I could yield,
  • Death only keeps its place,
  • My gift and grace!’
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  • Then stepped a damsel to her side,
  • And spake, and needs must weep:
  • ‘For his sake, lady, if he died,
  • He prayed of thee to keep
  • 160 This staff and scrip.’
  • That night they hung above her bed,
  • Till morning wet with tears.
  • Year after year above her head
  • Her bed his token wears,
  • Five years, ten years.
  • That night the passion of her grief
  • Shook them as there they hung.
  • Each year the wind that shed the leaf
  • Shook them and in its tongue
  • 170 A message flung.
  • And once she woke with a clear mind
  • That letters writ to calm
  • Her soul lay in the scrip; to find
  • Only a torpid balm
  • And dust of palm.
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  • They shook far off with palace sport
  • When joust and dance were rife;
  • And the hunt shook them from the court;
  • For hers, in peace or strife,
  • 180 Was a Queen's life.
  • A Queen's death now: as now they shake
  • To gusts in chapel dim,—
  • Hung where she sleeps, not seen to wake,
  • (Carved lovely white and slim),
  • With them by him.
  • Stand up to-day, still armed, with her,
  • Good knight, before His brow
  • Who then as now was here and there,
  • Who had in mind thy vow
  • 190 Then even as now.
  • The lists are set in Heaven to-day,
  • The bright pavilions shine;
  • Fair hangs thy shield, and none gainsay;
  • The trumpets sound in sign
  • That she is thine.
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  • Not tithed with days' and years' decease
  • He pays thy wage He owed,
  • But with imperishable peace
  • Here in His own abode,
  • 200 Thy jealous God.
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( Regno Lombardo-Veneto, 1848)

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  • Our Lombard country-girls along the coast
  • Wear daggers in their garters; for they know
  • That they might hate another girl to death
  • Or meet a German lover. Such a knife
  • I bought her, with a hilt of horn and pearl.
  • Father, you cannot know of all my thoughts
  • That day in going to meet her,—that last day
  • For the last time, she said;—of all the love
  • And all the hopeless hope that she might change
  • 10And go back with me. Ah! and everywhere,
  • At places we both knew along the road,
  • Some fresh shape of herself as once she was
  • Grew present at my side; until it seemed—
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  • So close they gathered round me—they would all
  • Be with me when I reached the spot at last,
  • To plead my cause with her against herself
  • So changed. O Father, if you knew all this
  • You cannot know, then you would know too, Father,
  • And only then, if God can pardon me.
  • 20What can be told I'll tell, if you will hear.
  • I passed a village-fair upon my road,
  • And thought, being empty-handed, I would take
  • Some little present: such might prove, I said,
  • Either a pledge between us, or (God help me!)
  • A parting gift. And there it was I bought
  • The knife I spoke of, such as women wear.
  • That day, some three hours afterwards, I found
  • For certain, it must be a parting gift.
  • And, standing silent now at last, I looked
  • 30Into her scornful face; and heard the sea
  • Still trying hard to din into my ears
  • Some speech it knew which still might change her heart
  • If only it could make me understand.
  • One moment thus. Another, and her face
  • Seemed further off than the last line of sea,
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  • So that I thought, if now she were to speak
  • I could not hear her. Then again I knew
  • All, as we stood together on the sand
  • At Iglio, in the first thin shade o'the hills.
  • 40 ‘Take it,’ I said, and held it out to her,
  • While the hilt glanced within my trembling hold;
  • ‘Take it and keep it for my sake,’ I said.
  • Her neck unbent not, neither did her eyes
  • Move, nor her foot left beating of the sand;
  • Only she put it by from her and laughed.
  • Father, you hear my speech and not her laugh;
  • But God heard that. Will God remember all?
  • It was another laugh than the sweet sound
  • Which rose from her sweet childish heart, that day
  • 50Eleven years before, when first I found her
  • Alone upon the hill-side; and her curls
  • Shook down in the warm grass as she looked up
  • Out of her curls in my eyes bent to hers.
  • She might have served a painter to pourtray
  • That heavenly child which in the latter days
  • Shall walk between the lion and the lamb.
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  • I had been for nights in hiding, worn and sick
  • And hardly fed; and so her words at first
  • Seemed fitful like the talking of the trees
  • 60And voices in the air that knew my name.
  • And I remember that I sat me down
  • Upon the slope with her, and thought the world
  • Must be all over or had never been,
  • We seemed there so alone. And soon she told me
  • Her parents both were gone away from her.
  • I thought perhaps she meant that they had died,
  • But when I asked her this, she looked again
  • Into my face, and said that yestereve
  • They kissed her long, and wept and made her weep,
  • 70And gave her all the bread they had with them,
  • And then had gone together up the hill
  • Where we were sitting now, and had walked on
  • Into the great red light: ‘and so,’ she said,
  • ‘I have come up here too; and when this evening
  • They step out of the light as they stepped in,
  • I shall be here to kiss them.’ And she laughed.
  • Then I bethought me suddenly of the famine;
  • And how the church-steps throughout all the town,
  • When last I had been there a month ago,
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  • 80Swarmed with starved folk; and how the bread was weighed
  • By Austrians armed; and women that I knew
  • For wives and mothers walked the public street,
  • Saying aloud that if their husbands feared
  • To snatch the children's food, themselves would stay
  • Till they had earned it there. So then this child
  • Was piteous to me; for all told me then
  • Her parents must have left her to God's chance,
  • To man's or to the Church's charity,
  • Because of the great famine, rather than
  • 90To watch her growing thin between their knees.
  • With that, God took my mother's voice and spoke,
  • And sights and sounds came back and things long since,
  • And all my childhood found me on the hills;
  • And so I took her with me.
  • I was young,
  • Scarce man then, Father; but the cause which gave
  • The wounds I die of now had brought me then
  • Some wounds already; and I lived alone,
  • As any hiding hunted man must live.
  • It was no easy thing to keep a child
  • 100In safety; for herself it was not safe,
  • And doubled my own danger: but I knew
  • That God would help me.
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  • Yet a little while
  • Pardon me, Father, if I pause. I think
  • I have been speaking to you of some matters
  • There was no need to speak of, have I not?
  • You do not know how clearly those things stood
  • Within my mind, which I have spoken of,
  • Nor how they strove for utterance. Life all past
  • Is like the sky when the sun sets in it,
  • 110Clearest where furthest off.
  • I told you how
  • She scorned my parting gift and laughed. And yet
  • A woman's laugh's another thing sometimes:
  • I think they laugh in Heaven. I know last night
  • I dreamed I saw into the garden of God,
  • Where women walked whose painted images
  • I have seen with candles round them in the church.
  • They bent this way and that, one to another,
  • Playing: and over the long golden hair
  • Of each there floated like a ring of fire
  • 120Which when she stooped stooped with her, and when she rose
  • Rose with her. Then a breeze flew in among them,
  • As if a window had been opened in heaven
  • For God to give his blessing from, before
  • This world of ours should set; (for in my dream
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  • I thought our world was setting, and the sun
  • Flared, a spent taper;) and beneath that gust
  • The rings of light quivered like forest-leaves.
  • Then all the blessed maidens who were there
  • Stood up together, as it were a voice
  • 130That called them; and they threw their tresses back,
  • And smote their palms, and all laughed up at once,
  • For the strong heavenly joy they had in them
  • To hear God bless the world. Wherewith I woke:
  • And looking round, I saw as usual
  • That she was standing there with her long locks
  • Pressed to her side; and her laugh ended theirs.
  • For always when I see her now, she laughs.
  • And yet her childish laughter haunts me too,
  • The life of this dead terror; as in days
  • 140When she, a child, dwelt with me. I must tell
  • Something of those days yet before the end.
  • I brought her from the city—one such day
  • When she was still a merry loving child,—
  • The earliest gift I mind my giving her;
  • A little image of a flying Love
  • Made of our coloured glass-ware, in his hands
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    Sig. F
  • A dart of gilded metal and a torch.
  • And him she kissed and me, and fain would know
  • Why were his poor eyes blindfold, why the wings
  • 150And why the arrow. What I knew I told
  • Of Venus and of Cupid,—strange old tales.
  • And when she heard that he could rule the loves
  • Of men and women, still she shook her head
  • And wondered; and, ‘Nay, nay,’ she murmured still,
  • ‘So strong, and he a younger child than I!’
  • And then she'd have me fix him on the wall
  • Fronting her little bed; and then again
  • She needs must fix him there herself, because
  • I gave him to her and she loved him so,
  • 160And he should make her love me better yet,
  • If women loved the more, the more they grew.
  • But the fit place upon the wall was high
  • For her, and so I held her in my arms:
  • And each time that the heavy pruning-hook
  • I gave her for a hammer slipped away
  • As it would often, still she laughed and laughed
  • And kissed and kissed me. But amid her mirth,
  • Just as she hung the image on the nail,
  • It slipped and all its fragments strewed the ground:
  • 170And as it fell she screamed, for in her hand
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  • The dart had entered deeply and drawn blood.
  • And so her laughter turned to tears: and ‘Oh!’
  • I said, the while I bandaged the small hand,—
  • ‘That I should be the first to make you bleed,
  • Who love and love and love you!’—kissing still
  • The fingers till I got her safe to bed.
  • And still she sobbed,—‘not for the pain at all,’
  • She said, ‘but for the Love, the poor good Love
  • You gave me.’ So she cried herself to sleep.
  • 180 Another later thing comes back to me.
  • 'Twas in those hardest foulest days of all,
  • When still from his shut palace, sitting clean
  • Above the splash of blood, old Metternich
  • (May his soul die, and never-dying worms
  • Feast on its pain for ever!) used to thin
  • His year's doomed hundreds daintily, each month
  • Thirties and fifties. This time, as I think,
  • Was when his thrift forbad the poor to take
  • That evil brackish salt which the dry rocks
  • 190Keep all through winter when the sea draws in.
  • The first I heard of it was a chance shot
  • In the street here and there, and on the stones
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  • A stumbling clatter as of horse hemmed round.
  • Then, when she saw me hurry out of doors,
  • My gun slung at my shoulder and my knife
  • Stuck in my girdle, she smoothed down my hair
  • And laughed to see me look so brave, and leaped
  • Up to my neck and kissed me. She was still
  • A child; and yet that kiss was on my lips
  • 200So hot all day where the smoke shut us in.
  • For now, being always with her, the first love
  • I had—the father's, brother's love—was changed,
  • I think, in somewise; like a holy thought
  • Which is a prayer before one knows of it.
  • The first time I perceived this, I remember,
  • Was once when after hunting I came home
  • Weary, and she brought food and fruit for me,
  • And sat down at my feet upon the floor
  • Leaning against my side. But when I felt
  • 210Her sweet head reach from that low seat of hers
  • So high as to be laid upon my heart,
  • I turned and looked upon my darling there
  • And marked for the first time how tall she was
  • And my heart beat with so much violence
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  • Under her cheek, I thought she could not choose
  • But wonder at it soon and ask me why;
  • And so I bade her rise and eat with me.
  • And when, remembering all and counting back
  • The time, I made out fourteen years for her
  • 220And told her so, she gazed at me with eyes
  • As of the sky and sea on a grey day,
  • And drew her long hands through her hair, and asked me
  • If she was not a woman; and then laughed:
  • And as she stooped in laughing, I could see
  • Beneath the growing throat the breasts half globed
  • Like folded lilies deepset in the stream.
  • Yes, let me think of her as then; for so
  • Her image, Father, is not like the sights
  • Which come when you are gone. She had a mouth
  • 230Made to bring death to life,—the underlip
  • Sucked in, as if it strove to kiss itself.
  • Her face was ever pale, as when one stoops
  • Over wan water; and the dark crisped hair
  • And the hair's shadow made it paler still:—
  • Deep-serried locks, the darkness of the cloud
  • Where the moon's gaze is set in eddying gloom.
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  • Her body bore her neck as the tree's stem
  • Bears the top branch; and as the branch sustains
  • The flower of the year's pride, her high neck bore
  • 240That face made wonderful with night and day.
  • Her voice was swift, yet ever the last words
  • Fell lingeringly; and rounded finger-tips
  • She had, that clung a little where they touched
  • And then were gone o' the instant. Her great eyes,
  • That sometimes turned half dizzily beneath
  • The passionate lids, as faint, when she would speak,
  • Had also in them hidden springs of mirth,
  • Which under the dark lashes evermore
  • Shook to her laugh, as when a bird flies low
  • 250Between the water and the willow-leaves,
  • And the shade quivers till he wins the light.
  • I was a moody comrade to her then,
  • For all the love I bore her. Italy,
  • The weeping desolate mother, long has claimed
  • Her sons' strong arms to lean on, and their hands
  • To lop the poisonous thicket from her path,
  • Cleaving her way to light. And from her need
  • Had grown the fashion of my whole poor life
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  • Which I was proud to yield her, as my father
  • 260Had yielded his. And this had come to be
  • A game to play, a love to clasp, a hate
  • To wreak, all things together that a man
  • Needs for his blood to ripen: till at times
  • All else seemed shadows, and I wondered still
  • To see such life pass muster and be deemed
  • Time's bodily substance. In those hours, no doubt,
  • To the young girl my eyes were like my soul,—
  • Dark wells of death-in-life that yearned for day.
  • And though she ruled me always, I remember
  • 270That once when I was thus and she still kept
  • Leaping about the place and laughing, I
  • Did almost chide her; whereupon she knelt
  • And putting her two hands into my breast
  • Sang me a song. Are these tears in my eyes?
  • ‘Tis long since I have wept for anything.
  • I thought that song forgotten out of mind,
  • And now, just as I spoke of it, it came
  • All back. It is but a rude thing, ill rhymed,
  • Such as a blind man chaunts and his dog hears
  • 280Holding the platter, when the children run
  • To merrier sport and leave him. Thus it goes:—
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  • La bella donna*
  • Piangendo disse:
  • ‘Come son fisse
  • Le stelle in cielo!
  • Quel fiato anelo
  • Dello stanco sole,
  • Quanto m'assonna!
  • E la luna, macchiata
Transcribed Footnote (page 71):
Note: The translation is printed in a footnote, in two columns.

Transcribed Note (page 71):
  • * She wept, sweet lady,
  • And said in weeping:
  • ‘What spell is keeping
  • The stars so steady?
  • Why does the power
  • Of the sun's noon-hour
  • To sleep so move me?
  • And the moon in heaven,
  • Stained where she passes
  • 10 As a worn-out glass is,—
  • Wearily driven,
  • Why walks she above me?
  • ‘Stars, moon, and sun too,
  • I'm tired of either
  • And all together!
  • Whom speak they unto
  • That I should listen?
  • For very surely,
  • Though my arms and shoulders
  • 20 Dazzle beholders,
  • And my eyes glisten,
  • All's nothing purely!
  • What are words said for
  • At all about them,
  • If he they are made for
  • Can do without them?’
  • She laughed, sweet lady,
  • And said in laughing:
  • ‘His hand clings half in
Transcribed Note (page 71):
  • 30 My own already!
  • Oh! do you love me?
  • Oh! speak of passion
  • In no new fashion,
  • No loud inveighings,
  • But the old sayings
  • You once said of me.
  • ‘You said: “As summer,
  • Through boughs grown brittle,
  • Comes back a little
  • 40 Ere frosts benumb her,—
  • So bring'st thou to me
  • All leaves and flowers,
  • Though autumn's gloomy
  • To-day in the bowers.”
  • ‘Oh! does he love me,
  • When my voice teaches
  • The very speeches
  • He then spoke of me?
  • Alas! what flavour
  • 50 Still with me lingers?’
  • (But she laughed as my kisses
  • Glowed in her fingers
  • With love's old blisses.)
  • ‘Oh! what one favour
  • Remains to woo him,
  • Whose whole poor savour
  • Belongs not to him?’

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  • 290Come uno specchio
  • Logoro e vecchio,—
  • Faccia affannata.
  • Che cosa vuole?
  • ‘Chè stelle, luna, e sole,
  • Ciascun m'annoja
  • E m'annojano insieme;
  • Non me ne preme
  • Nè ci prendo gioja.
  • E veramente,
  • 300Che le spalle sien franche
  • E le braccia bianche
  • E il seno caldo e tondo,
  • Non mi fa niente.
  • Chè cosa al mondo
  • Posso più far di questi
  • Se non piacciono a te, come dicesti?’
  • La donna rise
  • E riprese ridendo:—
  • ‘Questa mano che prendo
  • 310E dunque mia?
  • Tu m'ami dunque?
  • Dimmelo ancora,
  • Non in modo qualunque,
  • Ma le parole
  • Belle e precise
  • Che dicesti pria.
  • Siccome suole
  • La state talora
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  • (Dicesti) un qualche istante
  • 320 Tornare innanzi inverno,
  • Così tu fai ch'io scerno
  • Le foglie tutte quante,
  • Ben ch'io certo tenessi
  • Per passato l'autunno.
  • ‘Eccolo il mio alunno!
  • Io debbo insegnargli
  • Quei cari detti istessi
  • Ch'ei mi disse una volta!
  • Oimè! Che cosa dargli,’
  • 330(Ma ridea piano piano
  • Dei baci in sulla mano,)
  • ‘Ch'ei non m'abbia da lungo tempo tolta?’
  • That I should sing upon this bed!—with you
  • To listen, and such words still left to say!
  • Yet was it I that sang? The voice seemed hers,
  • As on the very day she sang to me;
  • When, having done, she took out of my hand
  • Something that I had played with all the while
  • And laid it down beyond my reach; and so
  • 340Turning my face round till it fronted hers,—
  • ‘Weeping or laughing, which was best?’ she said.
  • But these are foolish tales. How should I show
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  • The heart that glowed then with love's heat, each day
  • More and more brightly?—when for long years now
  • The very flame that flew about the heart,
  • And gave it fiery wings, has come to be
  • The lapping blaze of hell's environment
  • Whose tongues all bid the molten heart despair.
  • Yet one more thing comes back on me to-night
  • 350Which I may tell you: for it bore my soul
  • Dread firstlings of the brood that rend it now.
  • It chanced that in our last year's wanderings
  • We dwelt at Monza, far away from home,
  • If home we had: and in the Duomo there
  • I sometimes entered with her when she prayed.
  • An Image of Our Lady stands there, wrought
  • In marble by some great Italian hand
  • In the great days when she and Italy
  • Sat on one throne together: and to her
  • 360And to none else my loved one told her heart.
  • She was a woman then; and as she knelt,—
  • Her sweet brow in the sweet brow's shadow there,—
  • They seemed two kindred forms whereby our land
  • (Whose work still serves the world for miracle)
  • Made manifest herself in womanhood.
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  • Father, the day I speak of was the first
  • For weeks that I had borne her company
  • Into the Duomo; and those weeks had been
  • Much troubled, for then first the glimpses came
  • 370Of some impenetrable restlessness
  • Growing in her to make her changed and cold.
  • And as we entered there that day, I bent
  • My eyes on the fair Image, and I said
  • Within my heart, ‘Oh turn her heart to me!’
  • And so I left her to her prayers, and went
  • To gaze upon the pride of Monza's shrine,
  • Where in the sacristy the light still falls
  • Upon the Iron Crown of Italy,
  • On whose crowned heads the day has closed, nor yet
  • 380The daybreak gilds another head to crown.
  • But coming back, I wondered when I saw
  • That the sweet Lady of her prayers now stood
  • Alone without her; until further off,
  • Before some new Madonna gaily decked,
  • Tinselled and gewgawed, a slight German toy,
  • I saw her kneel, still praying. At my step
  • She rose, and side by side we left the church.
  • I was much moved, and sharply questioned her
  • Of her transferred devotion; but she seemed
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  • 390Stubborn and heedless; till she lightly laughed
  • And said: ‘The old Madonna? Aye indeed,
  • ‘She had my old thoughts,—this one has my new.’
  • Then silent to the soul I held my way:
  • And from the fountains of the public place
  • Unto the pigeon-haunted pinnacles,
  • Bright wings and water winnowed the bright air;
  • And stately with her laugh's subsiding smile
  • She went, with clear-swayed waist and towering neck
  • And hands held light before her; and the face
  • 400Which long had made a day in my life's night
  • Was night in day to me; as all men's eyes
  • Turned on her beauty, and she seemed to tread
  • Beyond my heart to the world made for her.
  • Ah there! my wounds will snatch my sense again:
  • The pain comes billowing on like a full cloud
  • Of thunder, and the flash that breaks from it
  • Leaves my brain burning. That's the wound he gave,
  • The Austrian whose white coat I still made match
  • With his white face, only the two were red
  • 410As suits his trade. The devil makes them wear
  • White for a livery, that the blood may show
  • Braver that brings them to him. So he looks
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  • Sheer o'er the field and knows his own at once.
  • Give me a draught of water in that cup;
  • My voice feels thick; perhaps you do not hear;
  • But you must hear. If you mistake my words
  • And so absolve me, I am sure the blessing
  • Will burn my soul. If you mistake my words
  • And so absolve me, Father, the great sin
  • 420Is yours, not mine: mark this: your soul shall burn
  • With mine for it. I have seen pictures where
  • Souls burned with Latin shriekings in their mouths:
  • Shall my end be as theirs? Nay, but I know
  • 'Tis you shall shriek in Latin. Some bell rings,
  • Rings through my brain: it strikes the hour in hell.
  • You see I cannot, Father; I have tried,
  • But cannot, as you see. These twenty times
  • Beginning, I have come to the same point
  • And stopped. Beyond, there are but broken words
  • 430Which will not let you understand my tale.
  • It is that then we have her with us here,
  • As when she wrung her hair out in my dream
  • To-night, till all the darkness reeked of it.
  • Her hair is always wet, for she has kept
    Image of page 78 page: 78
  • Its tresses wrapped about her side for years;
  • And when she wrung them round over the floor,
  • I heard the blood between her fingers hiss;
  • So that I sat up in my bed and screamed
  • Once and again; and once to once, she laughed.
  • 440Look that you turn not now,—she's at your back:
  • Gather your robe up, Father, and keep close,
  • Or she'll sit down on it and send you mad.
  • At Iglio in the first thin shade o' the hills
  • The sand is black and red. The black was black
  • When what was spilt that day sank into it,
  • And the red scarcely darkened. There I stood
  • This night with her, and saw the sand the same.

  • What would you have me tell you? Father, father,
  • How shall I make you know? You have not known
  • 450The dreadful soul of woman, who one day
  • Forgets the old and takes the new to heart,
  • Forgets what man remembers, and therewith
  • Forgets the man. Nor can I clearly tell
  • How the change happened between her and me.
  • Her eyes looked on me from an emptied heart
    Image of page 79 page: 79
  • When most my heart was full of her; and still
  • In every corner of myself I sought
  • To find what service failed her; and no less
  • Than in the good time past, there all was hers.
  • 460What do you love? Your Heaven? Conceive it spread
  • For one first year of all eternity
  • All round you with all joys and gifts of God;
  • And then when most your soul is blent with it
  • And all yields song together,—then it stands
  • O' the sudden like a pool that once gave back
  • Your image, but now drowns it and is clear
  • Again,—or like a sun bewitched, that burns
  • Your shadow from you, and still shines in sight.
  • How could you bear it? Would you not cry out,
  • 470Among those eyes grown blind to you, those ears
  • That hear no more your voice you hear the same,—
  • ‘God! what is left but hell for company,
  • But hell, hell, hell?’—until the name so breathed
  • Whirled with hot wind and sucked you down in fire?
  • Even so I stood the day her empty heart
  • Left her place empty in our home, while yet
  • I knew not why she went nor where she went
  • Nor how to reach her; so I stood the day
  • When to my prayers at last one sight of her
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  • 480Was granted, and I looked on heaven made pale
  • With scorn, and heard heaven mock me in that laugh.
  • O sweet, long sweet! Was that some ghost of you
  • Even as your ghost that haunts me now,—twin shapes
  • Of fear and hatred? May I find you yet
  • Mine when death wakes? Ah! be it even in flame,
  • We may have sweetness yet, if you but say
  • As once in childish sorrow: ‘Not my pain,
  • My pain was nothing: oh your poor poor love,
  • Your broken love!’
  • My Father, have I not
  • 490Yet told you the last things of that last day
  • On which I went to meet her by the sea?
  • O God, O God! but I must tell you all.
  • Midway upon my journey, when I stopped
  • To buy the dagger at the village fair,
  • I saw two cursed rats about the place
  • I knew for spies—blood-sellers both. That day
  • Was not yet over; for three hours to come
  • I prized my life: and so I looked around
  • For safety. A poor painted mountebank
  • 500Was playing tricks and shouting in a crowd.
    Image of page 81 page: 81
    Sig. G
  • I knew he must have heard my name, so I
  • Pushed past and whispered to him who I was,
  • And of my danger. Straight he hustled me
  • Into his booth, as it were in the trick,
  • And brought me out next minute with my face
  • All smeared in patches and a zany's gown;
  • And there I handed him his cups and balls
  • And swung the sand-bags round to clear the ring
  • For half an hour. The spies came once and looked;
  • 510And while they stopped, and made all sights and sounds
  • Sharp to my startled senses, I remember
  • A woman laughed above me. I looked up
  • And saw where a brown-shouldered harlot leaned
  • Half through a tavern window thick with vine.
  • Some man had come behind her in the room
  • And caught her by her arms, and she had turned
  • With that coarse empty laugh on him, as now
  • He munched her neck with kisses, while the vine
  • Crawled in her back.
  • And three hours afterwards,
  • 520When she that I had run all risks to meet
  • Laughed as I told you, my life burned to death
  • Within me, for I thought it like the laugh
  • Heard at the fair. She had not left me long;
    Image of page 82 page: 82
  • But all she might have changed to, or might change to,
  • (I know nought since—she never speaks a word—)
  • Seemed in that laugh. Have I not told you yet,
  • Not told you all this time what happened, Father,
  • When I had offered her the little knife,
  • And bade her keep it for my sake that loved her,
  • 530And she had laughed? Have I not told you yet?
  • ‘Take it,’ I said to her the second time,
  • ‘Take it and keep it.’ And then came a fire
  • That burnt my hand; and then the fire was blood.
  • And sea and sky were blood and fire, and all
  • The day was one red blindness; till it seemed
  • Within the whirling brain's entanglement
  • That she or I or all things bled to death.
  • And then I found her lying at my feet
  • And knew that I had stabbed her, and saw still
  • 540The look she gave me when she took the knife
  • Deep in her heart, even as I bade her then,
  • And fell, and her stiff bodice scooped the sand
  • Into her bosom.
  • And she keeps it, see,
  • Do you not see she keeps it?—there, beneath
  • Wet fingers and wet tresses, in her heart.
    Image of page 83 page: 83
  • For look you, when she stirs her hand, it shows
  • The little hilt of horn and pearl,—even such
  • A dagger as our women of the coast
  • Twist in their garters.
  • Father, I have done:
  • 550And from her side now she unwinds the thick
  • Dark hair; all round her side it is wet through,
  • But like the sand at Iglio does not change.
  • Now you may see the dagger clearly. Father,
  • I have told all: tell me at once what hope
  • Can reach me still. For now she draws it out
  • Slowly, and only smiles as yet: look, Father,
  • She scarcely smiles: but I shall hear her laugh
  • Soon, when she shows the crimson blade to God.
Manuscript Addition: Highly dramatic,— full of deep / passion & a fierce pathos
Editorial Description: Pencil note at the end of the poem.
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  • ‘Yea, thou shalt learn how salt his food who fares
  • Upon another's bread,—how steep his path
  • Who treadeth up and down another's stairs.’
( Div. Com. Parad. xvii.)
  • ‘Behold, even I, even I am Beatrice.’
( Div. Com. Purg. xxx.)
  • Of Florence and of Beatrice
  • Servant and singer from of old,
  • O'er Dante's heart in youth had toll'd
  • The knell that gave his Lady peace;
  • And now in manhood flew the dart
  • Wherewith his City pierced his heart.
  • Yet if his Lady's home above
  • Was Heaven, on earth she filled his soul;
  • And if his City held control
  • 10To cast the body forth to rove,
  • The soul could soar from earth's vain throng,
  • And Heaven and Hell fulfil the song.
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Note: There is a pencil slash mark in the right margin next to the last two lines in the first stanza on this page.
  • Follow his feet's appointed way;—
  • But little light we find that clears
  • The darkness of the exiled years.
  • Follow his spirit's journey:—nay,
  • What fires are blent, what winds are blown
  • On paths his feet may tread alone?
  • Yet of the twofold life he led
  • 20 In chainless thought and fettered will
  • Some glimpses reach us,—somewhat still
  • Of the steep stairs and bitter bread,—
  • Of the soul's quest whose stern avow
  • For years had made him haggard now.
  • Alas! the Sacred Song whereto
  • Both heaven and earth had set their hand
  • Not only at Fame's gate did stand
  • Knocking to claim the passage through,
  • But toiled to ope that heavier door
  • 30 Which Florence shut for evermore.
  • Shall not his birth's baptismal Town
  • One last high presage yet fulfil,
  • And at that font in Florence still
    Image of page 86 page: 86
  • Note: There is a pencil slash mark in the right margin next to the second and third line of the last stanza on this page.
  • His forehead take the laurel-crown?
  • O God! or shall dead souls deny
  • The undying soul its prophecy?
  • Aye, 'tis their hour. Not yet forgot
  • The bitter words he spoke that day
  • When for some great charge far away
  • 40Her rulers his acceptance sought.
  • ‘And if I go, who stays?’—so rose
  • His scorn:—‘and if I stay, who goes?’
  • ‘Lo! thou art gone now, and we stay:’
  • (The curled lips mutter): ‘and no star
  • Is from thy mortal path so far
  • As streets where childhood knew the way.
  • To Heaven and Hell thy feet may win,
  • But thine own house they come not in.’
  • Therefore, the loftier rose the song
  • 50 To touch the secret things of God,
  • The deeper pierced the hate that trod
  • On base men's track who wrought the wrong;
  • Till the soul's effluence came to be
  • Its own exceeding agony.
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Note: There is a pencil mark in the right margin next to the third and fourth lines of the first stanza on this page.
  • Arriving only to depart,
  • From court to court, from land to land,
  • Like flame within the naked hand
  • His body bore his burning heart
  • That still on Florence strove to bring
  • 60 God's fire for a burnt offering.
  • Even such was Dante's mood, when now,
  • Mocked for long years with Fortune's sport,
  • He dwelt at yet another court,
  • There where Verona's knee did bow
  • And her voice hailed with all acclaim
  • Can Grande della Scala's name.
  • As that lord's kingly guest awhile
  • His life we follow; through the days
  • Which walked in exile's barren ways,—
  • 70The nights which still beneath one smile
  • Heard through all spheres one song increase,—
  • ‘Even I, even I am Beatrice.’
  • At Can La Scala's court, no doubt,
  • Due reverence did his steps attend;
  • The ushers on his path would bend
    Image of page 88 page: 88
  • At ingoing as at going out;
  • The penmen waited on his call
  • At council-board, the grooms in hall.
  • And pages hushed their laughter down,
  • 80 And gay squires stilled the merry stir,
  • When he passed up the dais-chamber
  • With set brows lordlier than a frown;
  • And tire-maids hidden among these
  • Drew close their loosened bodices.
  • Perhaps the priests, (exact to span
  • All God's circumference,) if at whiles
  • They found him wandering in their aisles,
  • Grudged ghostly greeting to the man
  • By whom, though not of ghostly guild,
  • 90 With Heaven and Hell men's hearts were fill'd.
  • And the court-poets (he, forsooth,
  • A whole world's poet strayed to court!)
  • Had for his scorn their hate's retort.
  • He'd meet them flushed with easy youth,
  • Hot on their errands. Like noon-flies
  • They vexed him in the ears and eyes.
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Note: There is a pencil slash mark in the right margin next to the third and fourth lines of the first stanza on this page.
  • But at this court, peace still must wrench
  • Her chaplet from the teeth of war:
  • By day they held high watch afar,
  • 100At night they cried across the trench;
  • And still, in Dante's path, the fierce
  • Gaunt soldiers wrangled o'er their spears.
  • But vain seemed all the strength to him,
  • As golden convoys sunk at sea
  • Whose wealth might root out penury:
  • Because it was not, limb with limb,
  • Knit like his heart-strings round the wall
  • Of Florence, that ill pride might fall.
  • Yet in the tiltyard, when the dust
  • 110 Cleared from the sundered press of knights
  • Ere yet again it swoops and smites,
  • He almost deemed his longing must
  • Find force to wield that multitude
  • And hurl that strength the way he would.
  • How should he move them,—fame and gain
  • On all hands calling them at strife?
  • He still might find but his one life
    Image of page 90 page: 90
  • To give, by Florence counted vain;
  • One heart the false hearts made her doubt;
  • 120 One voice she heard once and cast out.
  • Oh! if his Florence could but come,
  • A lily-sceptered damsel fair,
  • As her own Giotto painted her
  • On many shields and gates at home,—
  • A lady crowned, at a soft pace
  • Riding the lists round to the dais:
  • Till where Can Grande rules the lists,
  • As young as Truth, as calm as Force,
  • She draws her rein now, while her horse
  • 130Bows at the turn of the white wrists;
  • And when each knight within his stall
  • Gives ear, she speaks and tells them all:
  • All the foul tale,—truth sworn untrue
  • And falsehood's triumph. All the tale?
  • Great God! and must she not prevail
  • To fire them ere they heard it through,—
  • And hand achieve ere heart could rest
  • That high adventure of her quest?
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  • How would his Florence lead them forth,
  • 140 Her bridle ringing as she went;
  • And at the last within her tent,
  • 'Neath golden lilies worship-worth,
  • How queenly would she bend the while
  • And thank the victors with her smile!
  • Also her lips should turn his way
  • And murmur: ‘O thou tried and true,
  • With whom I wept the long years through!
  • What shall it profit if I say,
  • Thee I remember? Nay, through thee
  • 150 All ages shall remember me.’
  • Peace, Dante, peace! The task is long,
  • The time wears short to compass it.
  • Within thine heart such hopes may flit
  • And find a voice in deathless song:
  • But lo! as children of man's earth,
  • Those hopes are dead before their birth.
  • Fame tells us that Verona's court
  • Was a fair place. The feet might still
  • Wander for ever at their will
    Image of page 92 page: 92
  • 160In many ways of sweet resort;
  • And still in many a heart around
  • The Poet's name due honour found.
  • Watch we his steps. He comes upon
  • The women at their palm-playing.
  • The conduits round the gardens sing
  • And meet in scoops of milk-white stone,
  • Where wearied damsels rest and hold
  • Their hands in the wet spurt of gold.
  • One of whom, knowing well that he,
  • 170 By some found stern, was mild with them,
  • Would run and pluck his garment's hem,
  • Saying, ‘Messer Dante, pardon me,’—
  • Praying that they might hear the song
  • Which first of all he made, when young.
  • ‘Donne che avete’* . . . Thereunto
  • Thus would he murmur, having first
  • Drawn near the fountain, while she nurs'd
    Transcribed Footnote (page 92):

    *‘Donne che avete intelletto d'amore:’ —the first canzone of

    the ‘ Vita Nuova.’

    Image of page 93 page: 93
  • His hand against her side: a few
  • Sweet words, and scarcely those, half said:
  • 180 Then turned, and changed, and bowed his head.
  • For then the voice said in his heart,
  • ‘Even I, even I am Beatrice;’
  • And his whole life would yearn to cease:
  • Till having reached his room, apart
  • Beyond vast lengths of palace-floor,
  • He drew the arras round his door.
  • At such times, Dante, thou hast set
  • Thy forehead to the painted pane
  • Full oft, I know; and if the rain
  • 190Smote it outside, her fingers met
  • Thy brow; and if the sun fell there,
  • Her breath was on thy face and hair.
  • Then, weeping, I think certainly
  • Thou hast beheld, past sight of eyne,—
  • Within another room of thine
  • Where now thy body may not be
  • But where in thought thou still remain'st,—
  • A window often wept against:
Image of page 94 page: 94
  • The window thou, a youth, hast sought,
  • 200 Flushed in the limpid eventime,
  • Ending with daylight the day's rhyme
  • Of her; where oftenwhiles her thought
  • Held thee—the lamp untrimmed to write—
  • In joy through the blue lapse of night.
  • At Can La Scala's court, no doubt,
  • Guests seldom wept. It was brave sport,
  • No doubt, at Can La Scala's court,
  • Within the palace and without;
  • Where music, set to madrigals,
  • 210 Loitered all day through groves and halls.
  • Because Can Grande of his life
  • Had not had six-and-twenty years
  • As yet. And when the chroniclers
  • Tell you of that Vicenza strife
  • And of strifes elsewhere,—you must not
  • Conceive for church-sooth he had got
  • Just nothing in his wits but war:
  • Though doubtless 'twas the young man's joy
  • (Grown with his growth from a mere boy,)
    Image of page 95 page: 95
  • 220To mark his ‘Viva Cane!’ scare
  • The foe's shut front, till it would reel
  • All blind with shaken points of steel.
  • But there were places—held too sweet
  • For eyes that had not the due veil
  • Of lashes and clear lids—as well
  • In favour as his saddle-seat:
  • Breath of low speech he scorned not there
  • Nor light cool fingers in his hair.
  • Yet if the child whom the sire's plan
  • 230 Made free of a deep treasure-chest
  • Scoffed it with ill-conditioned jest,—
  • We may be sure too that the man
  • Was not mere thews, nor all content
  • With lewdness swathed in sentiment.
  • So you may read and marvel not
  • That such a man as Dante—one
  • Who, while Can Grande's deeds were done,
  • Had drawn his robe round him and thought—
    Image of page 96 page: 96
  • Note: There is a stray pencil mark in the left margin next to the second stanza on the page.
  • Now at the same guest-table far'd
  • 240 Where keen Uguccio wiped his beard.*
  • Through leaves and trellis-work the sun
  • Left the wine cool within the glass,—
  • They feasting where no sun could pass:
  • And when the women, all as one,
  • Rose up with brightened cheeks to go,
  • It was a comely thing, we know.
  • But Dante recked not of the wine;
  • Whether the women stayed or went,
  • His visage held one stern intent:
  • 250And when the music had its sign
  • To breathe upon them for more ease,
  • Sometimes he turned and bade it cease.
  • And as he spared not to rebuke
  • The mirth, so oft in council he
  • To bitter truth bore testimony:
  • And when the crafty balance shook
  • Well poised to make the wrong prevail,
  • Then Dante's hand would turn the scale.
Transcribed Footnote (page 96):

* Uguccione della Faggiuola, Dante's former protector, was

now his fellow-guest at Verona.

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Sig. H
  • And if some envoy from afar
  • 260 Sailed to Verona's sovereign port
  • For aid or peace, and all the court
  • Fawned on its lord, ‘the Mars of war,
  • Sole arbiter of life and death,’—
  • Be sure that Dante saved his breath.
  • And Can La Scala marked askance
  • These things, accepting them for shame
  • And scorn, till Dante's guestship came
  • To be a peevish sufferance:
  • His host sought ways to make his days
  • 270 Hateful; and such have many ways.
  • There was a Jester, a foul lout
  • Whom the court loved for graceless arts;
  • Sworn scholiast of the bestial parts
  • Of speech; a ribald mouth to shout
  • In Folly's horny tympanum
  • Such things as make the wise man dumb.
  • Much loved, him Dante loathed. And so,
  • One day when Dante felt perplex'd
  • If any day that could come next
    Image of page 98 page: 98
  • 280Were worth the waiting for or no,
  • And mute he sat amid their din,—
  • Can Grande called the Jester in.
  • Rank words, with such, are wit's best wealth.
  • Lords mouthed approval; ladies kept
  • Twittering with clustered heads, except
  • Some few that took their trains by stealth
  • And went. Can Grande shook his hair
  • And smote his thighs and laughed i' the air.
  • Then, facing on his guest, he cried,—
  • 290 ‘Say, Messer Dante, how it is
  • I get out of a clown like this
  • More than your wisdom can provide.’
  • And Dante: ‘'Tis man's ancient whim
  • That still his like seems good to him.’
  • Also a tale is told, how once,
  • At clearing tables after meat,
  • Piled for a jest at Dante's feet
  • Were found the dinner's well-picked bones;
  • So laid, to please the banquet's lord,
  • 300 By one who crouched beneath the board.
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  • Then smiled Can Grande to the rest:—
  • ‘Our Dante's tuneful mouth indeed
  • Lacks not the gift on flesh to feed!’
  • ‘Fair host of mine,’ replied the guest,
  • ‘So many bones you'd not descry
  • If so it chanced the dog were I.’*
  • But wherefore should we turn the grout
  • In a drained cup, or be at strife
  • From the worn garment of a life
  • 310To rip the twisted ravel out?
  • Good needs expounding; but of ill
  • Each hath enough to guess his fill.
  • They named him Justicer-at-Law:
  • Each month to bear the tale in mind
  • Of hues a wench might wear unfin'd
  • And of the load an ox might draw;
  • To cavil in the weight of bread
  • And to see purse-thieves gibbeted.
Transcribed Footnote (page 99):

* ‘ Messere, voi non vedreste tant 'ossa se cane io fossi .’ The

point of the reproach is difficult to render, depending as it does

on the literal meaning of the name Cane.

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  • And when his spirit wove the spell
  • 320 (From under even to over-noon
  • In converse with itself alone,)
  • As high as Heaven, as low as Hell,—
  • He would be summoned and must go:
  • For had not Gian stabbed Giacomo?
  • Therefore the bread he had to eat
  • Seemed brackish, less like corn than tares;
  • And the rush-strown accustomed stairs
  • Each day were steeper to his feet;
  • And when the night-vigil was done,
  • 330 His brows would ache to feel the sun.
  • Nevertheless, when from his kin
  • There came the tidings how at last
  • In Florence a decree was pass'd
  • Whereby all banished folk might win
  • Free pardon, so a fine were paid
  • And act of public penance made,—
  • This Dante writ in answer thus,
  • Words such as these: ‘That clearly they
  • In Florence must not have to say,—
    Image of page 101 page: 101
  • 340The man abode aloof from us
  • Nigh fifteen years, yet lastly skulk'd
  • Hither to candleshrift and mulct.
  • ‘That he was one the Heavens forbid
  • To traffic in God's justice sold
  • By market-weight of earthly gold,
  • Or to bow down over the lid
  • Of steaming censers, and so be
  • Made clean of manhood's obloquy.
  • ‘That since no gate led, by God's will,
  • 350 To Florence, but the one whereat
  • The priests and money-changers sat,
  • He still would wander; for that still,
  • Even through the body's prison-bars,
  • His soul possessed the sun and stars.’
  • Such were his words. It is indeed
  • For ever well our singers should
  • Utter good words and know them good
  • Not through song only; with close heed
  • Lest, having spent for the work's sake
  • 360 Six days, the man be left to make.
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  • Months o'er Verona, till the feast
  • Was come for Florence the Free Town:
  • And at the shrine of Baptist John
  • The exiles, girt with many a priest
  • And carrying candles as they went,
  • Were held to mercy of the saint.
  • On the high seats in sober state,—
  • Gold neck-chains range o'er range below
  • Gold screen-work where the lilies grow,—
  • 370The Heads of the Republic sate,
  • Marking the humbled face go by
  • Each one of his house-enemy.
  • And as each proscript rose and stood
  • From kneeling in the ashen dust
  • On the shrine-steps, some magnate thrust
  • A beard into the velvet hood
  • Of his front colleague's gown, to see
  • The cinders stuck in the bare knee.
  • Tosinghi passed, Manelli passed,
  • 380 Rinucci passed, each in his place;
  • But not an Alighieri's face
    Image of page 103 page: 103
  • Note: There is a pencil slash mark in the left margin at the end of the second stanza on the page.
  • Went by that day from first to last
  • In the Republic's triumph; nor
  • A foot came home to Dante's door.
  • (RESPUBLICA—a public thing:
  • A shameful shameless prostitute,
  • Whose lust with one lord may not suit,
  • So takes by turns its revelling
  • A night with each, till he at morn
  • 390 Is stripped and beaten forth forlorn,
  • And leaves her, cursing her. If she,
  • Indeed, have not some spice-draught, hid
  • In scent under a silver lid,
  • To drench his open throat with—he
  • Once hard asleep; and thrust him not
  • At dawn beneath the boards to rot.)
  • Years filled out their twelve moons, and ceased
  • One in another; and alway
  • There were the whole twelve hours each day
  • 400And each night as the years increased;
  • And rising moon and setting sun
  • Beheld that Dante's work was done.
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Note: In line 419, the descender on the “y” in the word “eyes” is missing.
  • What of his work for Florence? Well
  • It was, he knew, and well must be.
  • Yet evermore her hate's decree
  • Dwelt in his thought intolerable:—
  • His body to be burned,*—his soul
  • To beat its wings at hope's vain goal.
  • What of his work for Beatrice?
  • 410 Now well-nigh was the third song writ,—
  • The stars a third time sealing it
  • With sudden music of pure peace:
  • For echoing thrice the threefold song,
  • The unnumbered stars the tone prolong.†
  • Each hour, as then the Vision pass'd,
  • He heard the utter harmony
  • Of the nine trembling spheres, till she
  • Bowed her eyes towards him in the last,
  • So that all ended with her eyes,
  • 420 Hell, Purgatory, Paradise.
Transcribed Footnote (page 104):

* Such was the last sentence passed by Florence against Dante,

as a recalcitrant exile.

Transcribed Footnote (page 104):

† ‘E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle.’ Inferno.

‘Puro e disposto a salire alle stelle.’ Purgatorio.

‘L'amor che muove il sole e l'altre stelle.’ Paradiso.

Image of page 105 page: 105
  • ‘It is my trust, as the years fall,
  • To write more worthily of her
  • Who now, being made God's minister,
  • Looks on His visage and knows all.’
  • Such was the hope that love did blend
  • With grief's slow fires, to make an end
  • Of the ‘New Life,’ his youth's dear book:
  • Adding thereunto: ‘In such trust
  • I labour, and believe I must
  • 430Accomplish this which my soul took
  • In charge, if God, my Lord and hers,
  • Leave my life with me a few years.’
  • The trust which he had borne in youth
  • Was all at length accomplished. He
  • At length had written worthily—
  • Yea even of her; no rhymes uncouth
  • 'Twixt tongue and tongue; but by God's aid
  • The first words Italy had said.
  • Ah! haply now the heavenly guide
  • 440 Was not the last form seen by him:
  • But there that Beatrice stood slim
  • And bowed in passing at his side,
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  • For whom in youth his heart made moan
  • Then when the city sat alone.*
  • Clearly herself; the same whom he
  • Met, not past girlhood, in the street,
  • Low-bosomed and with hidden feet;
  • And then as woman perfectly,
  • In years that followed, many an once,—
  • 450 And now at last among the suns
  • In that high vision. But indeed
  • It may be memory did recall
  • Last to him then the first of all,—
  • The child his boyhood bore in heed
  • Nine years. At length the voice brought peace,—
  • ‘Even I, even I am Beatrice.’
  • All this, being there, we had not seen.
  • Seen only was the shadow wrought
  • On the strong features bound in thought;
  • 460The vagueness gaining gait and mien;
  • The white streaks gathering clear to view
  • In the burnt beard the women knew.
Transcribed Footnote (page 106):

* ‘ Quomodo sedet sola civitas!’—the words quoted by Dante in

the ‘Vita Nuova’ when he speaks of the death of Beatrice.

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  • For a tale tells that on his track,
  • As through Verona's streets he went,
  • This saying certain women sent:—
  • ‘Lo, he that strolls to Hell and back
  • At will! Behold him, how Hell's reek
  • Has crisped his beard and singed his cheek.’
  • ‘Whereat’ (Boccaccio's words) ‘he smil'd
  • 470 For pride in fame.’ It might be so:
  • Nevertheless we cannot know
  • If haply he were not beguil'd
  • To bitterer mirth, who scarce could tell
  • If he indeed were back from Hell.
  • So the day came, after a space,
  • When Dante felt assured that there
  • The sunshine must lie sicklier
  • Even than in any other place,
  • Save only Florence. When that day
  • 480 Had come, he rose and went his way.
  • He went and turned not. From his shoes
  • It may be that he shook the dust,
  • As every righteous dealer must
  • Image of page 108 page: 108
    Note: The MS addition on the facing page, 109, has transferred onto the top right corner of this page.
  • Once and again ere life can close:
  • And unaccomplished destiny
  • Struck cold his forehead, it may be.
  • No book keeps record how the Prince
  • Sunned himself out of Dante's reach,
  • Nor how the Jester stank in speech;
  • 490While courtiers, used to smile and wince,
  • Poets and harlots, all the throng,
  • Let loose their scandal and their song.
  • No book keeps record if the seat
  • Which Dante held at his host's board
  • Were sat in next by clerk or lord,—
  • If leman lolled with dainty feet
  • At ease, or hostage brooded there,
  • Or priest lacked silence for his prayer.
  • Eat and wash hands, Can Grande;—scarce
  • 500 We know their deeds now: hands which fed
  • Our Dante with that bitter bread;
  • And thou the watch-dog of those stairs
  • Which, of all paths his feet knew well,
  • Were steeper found than Heaven or Hell.
Manuscript Addition: a picturesque sketch of the exile's / life
Editorial Description: written in pencil at the bottom of the page
Image of page 109 page: 109
Manuscript Addition: The scornful jest / hides a pitiful heart / or cynical kindliness
Editorial Description: written in pencil diagonally across the upper left corner of the page

“Vengeance of Jenny's case! Fie on her! Never name her,

child!”—( Mrs. Quickly.)

  • Lazy laughing languid Jenny,
  • Fond of a kiss and fond of a guinea,
  • Whose head upon my knee to-night
  • Rests for a while, as if grown light
  • With all our dances and the sound
  • To which the wild tunes spun you round:
  • Fair Jenny mine, the thoughtless queen
  • Of kisses which the blush between
  • Could hardly make much daintier;
  • 10Whose eyes are as blue skies, whose hair
  • Is countless gold incomparable:
  • Fresh flower, scarce touched with signs that tell
  • Of Love's exuberant hotbed:—Nay,
  • Poor flower left torn since yesterday
  • Until to-morrow leave you bare;
  • Poor handful of bright spring-water
    Image of page 110 page: 110
  • Flung in the whirlpool's shrieking face;
  • Poor shameful Jenny, full of grace
  • Thus with your head upon my knee;—
  • 20Whose person or whose purse may be
  • The lodestar of your reverie?
  • This room of yours, my Jenny, looks
  • A change from mine so full of books,
  • Whose serried ranks hold fast, forsooth,
  • So many captive hours of youth,—
  • The hours they thieve from day and night
  • To make one's cherished work come right,
  • And leave it wrong for all their theft,
  • Even as to-night my work was left:
  • 30Until I vowed that since my brain
  • And eyes of dancing seemed so fain,
  • My feet should have some dancing too:—
  • And thus it was I met with you.
  • Well, I suppose 'twas hard to part,
  • For here I am. And now, sweetheart,
  • You seem too tired to get to bed.
  • It was a careless life I led
  • When rooms like this were scarce so strange
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  • Note: There is a pencilled slash mark in the right margin next to the ninth and tenth line of the second stanza on this page.
  • Not long ago. What breeds the change,—
  • 40The many aims or the few years?
  • Because to-night it all appears
  • Something I do not know again.
  • The cloud's not danced out of my brain,—
  • The cloud that made it turn and swim
  • While hour by hour the books grew dim.
  • Why, Jenny, as I watch you there,—
  • For all your wealth of loosened hair,
  • Your silk ungirdled and unlac'd
  • And warm sweets open to the waist,
  • 50All golden in the lamplight's gleam,—
  • You know not what a book you seem,
  • Half-read by lightning in a dream!
  • How should you know, my Jenny? Nay,
  • And I should be ashamed to say:—
  • Poor beauty, so well worth a kiss!
  • But while my thought runs on like this
  • With wasteful whims more than enough,
  • I wonder what you're thinking of.
  • If of myself you think at all,
  • 60What is the thought?—conjectural
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  • Note: There is a pencilled slash mark in the left margin next to the second line of the second stanza on this page.
  • On sorry matters best unsolved?—
  • Or inly is each grace revolved
  • To fit me with a lure?—or (sad
  • To think!) perhaps you're merely glad
  • That I'm not drunk or ruffianly
  • And let you rest upon my knee.
  • For sometimes, were the truth confess'd,
  • You're thankful for a little rest,—
  • Glad from the crush to rest within,
  • 70From the heart-sickness and the din
  • Where envy's voice at virtue's pitch
  • Mocks you because your gown is rich;
  • And from the pale girl's dumb rebuke,
  • Whose ill-clad grace and toil-worn look
  • Proclaim the strength that keeps her weak
  • And other nights than yours bespeak;
  • And from the wise unchildish elf,
  • To schoolmate lesser than himself
  • Pointing you out, what thing you are:—
  • 80Yes, from the daily jeer and jar,
  • From shame and shame's outbraving too,
  • Is rest not sometimes sweet to you?—
  • But most from the hatefulness of man
    Image of page 113 page: 113
    Sig. I
  • Who spares not to end what he began,
  • Whose acts are ill and his speech ill,
  • Who, having used you at his will,
  • Thrusts you aside, as when I dine
  • I serve the dishes and the wine.
  • Well, handsome Jenny mine, sit up,
  • 90I've filled our glasses, let us sup,
  • And do not let me think of you,
  • Lest shame of yours suffice for two.
  • What, still so tired? Well, well then, keep
  • Your head there, so you do not sleep;
  • But that the weariness may pass
  • And leave you merry, take this glass.
  • Ah! lazy lily hand, more bless'd
  • If ne'er in rings it had been dress'd
  • Nor ever by a glove conceal'd!
  • 100 Behold the lilies of the field,
  • They toil not neither do they spin;
  • (So doth the ancient text begin,—
  • Not of such rest as one of these
  • Can share.) Another rest and ease
  • Along each summer-sated path
    Image of page 114 page: 114
  • From its new lord the garden hath,
  • Than that whose spring in blessings ran
  • Which praised the bounteous husbandman,
  • Ere yet, in days of hankering breath,
  • 110The lilies sickened unto death.
  • What, Jenny, are your lilies dead?
  • Aye, and the snow-white leaves are spread
  • Like winter on the garden-bed.
  • But you had roses left in May,—
  • They were not gone too. Jenny, nay,
  • But must your roses die, and those
  • Their purfled buds that should unclose?
  • Even so; the leaves are curled apart,
  • Still red as from the broken heart,
  • 120And here's the naked stem of thorns.
  • Nay, nay, mere words. Here nothing warns
  • As yet of winter. Sickness here
  • Or want alone could waken fear,—
  • Nothing but passion wrings a tear.
  • Except when there may rise unsought
  • Haply at times a passing thought
  • Of the old days which seem to be
    Image of page 115 page: 115
  • Much older than any history
  • That is written in any book;
  • 130When she would lie in fields and look
  • Along the ground through the blown grass,
  • And wonder where the city was,
  • Far out of sight, whose broil and bale
  • They told her then for a child's tale.
  • Jenny, you know the city now.
  • A child can tell the tale there, how
  • Some things which are not yet enroll'd
  • In market-lists are bought and sold
  • Even till the early Sunday light,
  • 140When Saturday night is market-night
  • Everywhere, be it dry or wet,
  • And market-night in the Haymarket.
  • Our learned London children know,
  • Poor Jenny, all your mirth and woe;
  • Have seen your lifted silken skirt
  • Advertize dainties through the dirt;
  • Have seen your coach-wheels splash rebuke
  • On virtue; and have learned your look
  • When, wealth and health slipped past, you stare
  • 150Along the streets alone, and there,
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  • Round the long park, across the bridge,
  • The cold lamps at the pavement's edge
  • Wind on together and apart,
  • A fiery serpent for your heart.
  • Let the thoughts pass, an empty cloud!
  • Suppose I were to think aloud,—
  • What if to her all this were said?
  • Why, as a volume seldom read
  • Being opened halfway shuts again,
  • 160So might the pages of her brain
  • Be parted at such words, and thence
  • Close back upon the dusty sense.
  • For is there hue or shape defin'd
  • In Jenny's desecrated mind,
  • Where all contagious currents meet,
  • A Lethe of the middle street?
  • Nay, it reflects not any face,
  • Nor sound is in its sluggish pace,
  • But as they coil those eddies clot,
  • 170And night and day remember not.
  • Why, Jenny, you're asleep at last!—
  • Asleep, poor Jenny, hard and fast,—
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  • Note: There is an ink line drawn down the right margin of the page.
  • So young and soft and tired; so fair,
  • With chin thus nestled in your hair,
  • Mouth quiet, eyelids almost blue
  • As if some sky of dreams shone through!
  • Just as another woman sleeps!
  • Enough to throw one's thoughts in heaps
  • Of doubt and horror,—what to say
  • 180Or think,—this awful secret sway,
  • The potter's power over the clay!
  • Of the same lump (it has been said)
  • For honour and dishonour made,
  • Two sister vessels. Here is one.
  • My cousin Nell is fond of fun,
  • And fond of dress, and change, and praise,
  • So mere a woman in her ways:
  • And if her sweet eyes rich in youth
  • Are like her lips that tell the truth,
  • 190My cousin Nell is fond of love.
  • And she's the girl I'm proudest of.
  • Who does not prize her, guard her well?
  • The love of change, in cousin Nell,
  • Shall find the best and hold it dear:
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  • Note: There is an ink line drawn vertically down the left margin of the page.
  • The unconquered mirth turn quieter
  • Not through her own, through others' woe:
  • The conscious pride of beauty glow
  • Beside another's pride in her,
  • One little part of all they share.
  • 200For Love himself shall ripen these
  • In a kind soil to just increase
  • Through years of fertilizing peace.
  • Of the same lump (as it is said)
  • For honour and dishonour made,
  • Two sister vessels. Here is one.
  • It makes a goblin of the sun.
  • So pure,—so fall'n! How dare to think
  • Of the first common kindred link?
  • Yet, Jenny, till the world shall burn
  • 210It seems that all things take their turn;
  • And who shall say but this fair tree
  • May need, in changes that may be,
  • Your children's children's charity?
  • Scorned then, no doubt, as you are scorn'd!
  • Shall no man hold his pride forewarn'd
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  • Till in the end, the Day of Days,
  • At Judgment, one of his own race,
  • As frail and lost as you, shall rise,—
  • His daughter, with his mother's eyes?
  • 220 How Jenny's clock ticks on the shelf!
  • Might not the dial scorn itself
  • That has such hours to register?
  • Yet as to me, even so to her
  • Are golden sun and silver moon,
  • In daily largesse of earth's boon,
  • Counted for life-coins to one tune.
  • And if, as blindfold fates are toss'd,
  • Through some one man this life be lost,
  • Shall soul not somehow pay for soul?
  • 230 Fair shines the gilded aureole
  • In which our highest painters place
  • Some living woman's simple face.
  • And the stilled features thus descried
  • As Jenny's long throat droops aside,—
  • The shadows where the cheeks are thin,
  • And pure wide curve from ear to chin,—
  • With Raffael's or Da Vinci's hand
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  • Note: There is an ink line drawn down the left margin alongside the first stanza on the page. There is a pencilled slash mark in the left margin next to the last line of the first stanza on this page.
  • To show them to men's souls, might stand,
  • Whole ages long, the whole world through,
  • 240For preachings of what God can do.
  • What has man done here? How atone,
  • Great God, for this which man has done?
  • And for the body and soul which by
  • Man's pitiless doom must now comply
  • With lifelong hell, what lullaby
  • Of sweet forgetful second birth
  • Remains? All dark. No sign on earth
  • What measure of God's rest endows
  • The many mansions of his house.
  • 250 If but a woman's heart might see
  • Such erring heart unerringly
  • For once! But that can never be.
  • Like a rose shut in a book
  • In which pure women may not look,
  • For its base pages claim control
  • To crush the flower within the soul;
  • Where through each dead rose-leaf that clings,
  • Pale as transparent psyche-wings,
  • To the vile text, are traced such things
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  • Note: There is a pencilled slash mark in the right margin next to the eleventh and twelfth lines of the first stanza on the page.
  • 260As might make lady's cheek indeed
  • More than a living rose to read;
  • So nought save foolish foulness may
  • Watch with hard eyes the sure decay;
  • And so the life-blood of this rose,
  • Puddled with shameful knowledge, flows
  • Through leaves no chaste hand may unclose:
  • Yet still it keeps such faded show
  • Of when 'twas gathered long ago,
  • That the crushed petals' lovely grain,
  • 270The sweetness of the sanguine stain,
  • Seen of a woman's eyes, must make
  • Her pitiful heart, so prone to ache,
  • Love roses better for its sake:—
  • Only that this can never be:—
  • Even so unto her sex is she.
  • Yet, Jenny, looking long at you,
  • The woman almost fades from view.
  • A cypher of man's changeless sum
  • Of lust, past, present, and to come,
  • 280Is left. A riddle that one shrinks
  • To challenge from the scornful sphinx.
  • Like a toad within a stone
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  • Manuscript Addition: strong intellectual imagery
    Editorial Description: Written in pencil across the top left corner of the page.
  • Seated while Time crumbles on;
  • Which sits there since the earth was curs'd
  • For Man's transgression at the first;
  • Which, living through all centuries,
  • Not once has seen the sun arise;
  • Whose life, to its cold circle charmed,
  • The earth's whole summers have not warmed;
  • 290Which always—whitherso the stone
  • Be flung—sits there, deaf, blind, alone;—
  • Aye, and shall not be driven out
  • Till that which shuts him round about
  • Break at the very Master's stroke,
  • And the dust thereof vanish as smoke,
  • And the seed of Man vanish as dust:—
  • Even so within this world is Lust.
  • Come, come, what use in thoughts like this?
  • Poor little Jenny, good to kiss,—
  • 300You'd not believe by what strange roads
  • Thought travels, when your beauty goads
  • A man to-night to think of toads!
  • Jenny, wake up. . . . Why, there's the dawn!
  • And there's an early waggon drawn
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  • To market, and some sheep that jog
  • Bleating before a barking dog;
  • And the old streets come peering through
  • Another night that London knew;
  • And all as ghostlike as the lamps.
  • 310 So on the wings of day decamps
  • My last night's frolic. Glooms begin
  • To shiver off as lights creep in
  • Past the gauze curtains half drawn-to,
  • And the lamp's doubled shade grows blue,—
  • Your lamp, my Jenny, kept alight,
  • Like a wise virgin's, all one night!
  • And in the alcove coolly spread
  • Glimmers with dawn your empty bed;
  • And yonder your fair face I see
  • 320Reflected lying on my knee,
  • Where teems with first foreshadowings
  • Your pier-glass scrawled with diamond rings.
  • And now without, as if some word
  • Had called upon them that they heard,
  • The London sparrows far and nigh
  • Clamour together suddenly;
    Image of page 124 page: 124
  • And Jenny's cage-bird grown awake
  • Here in their song his part must take,
  • Because here too the day doth break.
  • 330 And somehow in myself the dawn
  • Among stirred clouds and veils withdrawn
  • Strikes greyly on her. Let her sleep.
  • But will it wake her if I heap
  • These cushions thus beneath her head
  • Where my knee was? No,—there's your bed,
  • My Jenny, while you dream. And there
  • I lay among your golden hair
  • Perhaps the subject of your dreams,
  • These golden coins.
  • For still one deems
  • 340That Jenny's flattering sleep confers
  • New magic on the magic purse,—
  • Grim web, how clogged with shrivelled flies!
  • Between the threads fine fumes arise
  • And shape their pictures in the brain.
  • There roll no streets in glare and rain,
  • Nor flagrant man-swine whets his tusk;
  • But delicately sighs in musk
  • The homage of the dim boudoir;
    Image of page 125 page: 125
  • Or like a palpitating star
  • 350Thrilled into song, the opera-night
  • Breathes faint in the quick pulse of light;
  • Or at the carriage-window shine
  • Rich wares for choice; or, free to dine,
  • Whirls through its hour of health (divine
  • For her) the concourse of the Park.
  • And though in the discounted dark
  • Her functions there and here are one,
  • Beneath the lamps and in the sun
  • There reigns at least the acknowledged belle
  • 360Apparelled beyond parallel.
  • Ah Jenny, yes, we know your dreams.
  • For even the Paphian Venus seems
  • A goddess o'er the realms of love,
  • When silver-shrined in shadowy grove:
  • Aye, or let offerings nicely placed
  • But hide Priapus to the waist,
  • And whoso looks on him shall see
  • An eligible deity.
  • Why, Jenny, waking here alone
  • 370May help you to remember one,
    Image of page 126 page: 126
  • Though all the memory's long outworn
  • Of many a double-pillowed morn.
  • I think I see you when you wake,
  • And rub your eyes for me, and shake
  • My gold, in rising, from your hair,
  • A Danaë for a moment there.
  • Jenny, my love rang true! for still
  • Love at first sight is vague, until
  • That tinkling makes him audible.
  • 380 And must I mock you to the last,
  • Ashamed of my own shame,—aghast
  • Because some thoughts not born amiss
  • Rose at a poor fair face like this?
  • Well, of such thoughts so much I know:
  • In my life, as in hers, they show,
  • By a far gleam which I may near,
  • A dark path I can strive to clear.
  • Only one kiss. Goodbye, my dear.
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  • This is her picture as she was:
  • It seems a thing to wonder on,
  • As though mine image in the glass
  • Should tarry when myself am gone.
  • I gaze until she seems to stir,—
  • Until mine eyes almost aver
  • That now, even now, the sweet lips part
  • To breathe the words of the sweet heart:—
  • And yet the earth is over her.
  • 10Alas! even such the thin-drawn ray
  • That makes the prison-depths more rude,—
  • The drip of water night and day
  • Giving a tongue to solitude.
  • Yet this, of all love's perfect prize,
  • Remains; save what in mournful guise
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  • Note: There are ink lines drawn in the left margin next to each the first and the last stanzas on the page. There is also a pencilled slash mark next to the seventh and eighth lines of the second stanza on the page. There are also pencilled slash marks next to the the first and last lines of the last stanza on the page.
  • Takes counsel with my soul alone,—
  • Save what is secret and unknown,
  • Below the earth, above the skies.
  • In painting her I shrined her face
  • 20 Mid mystic trees, where light falls in
  • Hardly at all; a covert place
  • Where you might think to find a din
  • Of doubtful talk, and a live flame
  • Wandering, and many a shape whose name
  • Not itself knoweth, and old dew,
  • And your own footsteps meeting you,
  • And all things going as they came.
  • A deep dim wood; and there she stands
  • As in that wood that day: for so
  • 30Was the still movement of her hands
  • And such the pure line's gracious flow.
  • And passing fair the type must seem,
  • Unknown the presence and the dream.
  • 'Tis she: though of herself, alas!
  • Less than her shadow on the grass
  • Or than her image in the stream.
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  • That day we met there, I and she
  • One with the other all alone;
  • And we were blithe; yet memory
  • 40 Saddens those hours, as when the moon
  • Looks upon daylight. And with her
  • I stooped to drink the spring-water,
  • Athirst where other waters sprang;
  • And where the echo is, she sang,—
  • My soul another echo there.
  • But when that hour my soul won strength
  • For words whose silence wastes and kills,
  • Dull raindrops smote us, and at length
  • Thundered the heat within the hills.
  • 50That eve I spoke those words again
  • Beside the pelted window-pane;
  • And there she hearkened what I said,
  • With under-glances that surveyed
  • The empty pastures blind with rain.
  • Next day the memories of these things,
  • Like leaves through which a bird has flown,
  • Still vibrated with Love's warm wings;
  • Till I must make them all my own
  • Sig. K
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  • And paint this picture. So, 'twixt ease
  • 60Of talk and sweet long silences,
  • She stood among the plants in bloom
  • At windows of a summer room,
  • To feign the shadow of the trees.
  • And as I wrought, while all above
  • And all around was fragrant air,
  • In the sick burthen of my love
  • It seemed each sun-thrilled blossom there
  • Beat like a heart among the leaves.
  • O heart that never beats nor heaves,
  • 70 In that one darkness lying still,
  • What now to thee my love's great will
  • Or the fine web the sunshine weaves?
  • For now doth daylight disavow
  • Those days,—nought left to see or hear.
  • Only in solemn whispers now
  • At night-time these things reach mine ear,
  • When the leaf-shadows at a breath
  • Shrink in the road, and all the heath,
  • Forest and water, far and wide,
  • 80 In limpid starlight glorified,
  • Lie like the mystery of death.
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  • Last night at last I could have slept,
  • And yet delayed my sleep till dawn,
  • Still wandering. Then it was I wept:
  • For unawares I came upon
  • Those glades where then she walked with me:
  • And as I stood there suddenly,
  • All wan with traversing the night,
  • Upon the desolate verge of light
  • 90Yearned loud the iron-bosomed sea.
  • Even so, where Heaven holds breath and hears
  • The beating heart of Love's own breast,—
  • Where round the secret of all spheres
  • All angels lay their wings to rest,—
  • How shall my soul stand rapt and awed,
  • When, by the new birth borne abroad
  • Throughout the music of the suns,
  • It enters in her soul at once
  • And knows the silence there for God!
  • 100Here with her face doth memory sit
  • Meanwhile, and wait the day's decline,
  • Till other eyes shall look from it,
  • Eyes of the spirit's Palestine,
    Image of page 132 page: 132
  • Even than the old gaze tenderer:
  • While hopes and aims long lost with her
  • Stand round her image side by side,
  • Like tombs of pilgrims that have died
  • About the Holy Sepulchre.
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  • ‘Why did you melt your waxen man,
  • Sister Helen?
  • To-day is the third since you began.’
  • ‘The time was long, yet the time ran,
  • Little brother.’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • Three days to-day, between Hell and Heaven!)
  • ‘But if you have done your work aright,
  • Sister Helen,
  • 10 You'll let me play, for you said I might.’
  • ‘Be very still in your play to-night,
  • Little brother.’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • Third night, to-night, between Hell and Heaven!)
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  • ‘You said it must melt ere vesper-bell,
  • Sister Helen;
  • If now it be molten, all is well.’
  • ‘Even so,—nay, peace! you cannot tell,
  • Little brother’
  • 20 ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • O what is this, between Hell and Heaven?)
  • ‘Oh the waxen knave was plump to-day,
  • Sister Helen;
  • How like dead folk he has dropped away!’
  • ‘Nay now, of the dead what can you say,
  • Little brother?’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • What of the dead, between Hell and Heaven?)
  • ‘See, see, the sunken pile of wood,
  • 30 Sister Helen,
  • Shines through the thinned wax red as blood!’
  • ‘Nay now, when looked you yet on blood,
  • Little brother?’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • How pale she is, between Hell and Heaven!)
Image of page 135 page: 135
Note: There is an ink line drawn down the right margin along the length of the page. There is also a pencilled slash mark in the right margin next to the second and third line of the second stanza on the page.
  • ‘Now close your eyes, for they're sick and sore,
  • Sister Helen,
  • And I'll play without the gallery door.’
  • ‘Aye, let me rest,—I'll lie on the floor,
  • 40 Little brother.’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • What rest to-night, between Hell and Heaven?)
  • ‘Here high up in the balcony,
  • Sister Helen,
  • The moon flies face to face with me.’
  • ‘Aye, look and say whatever you see,
  • Little brother.’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • What sight to-night, between Hell and Heaven?)
  • 50‘Outside it's merry in the wind's wake,
  • Sister Helen;
  • In the shaken trees the chill stars shake.’
  • ‘Hush, heard you a horse-tread as you spake,
  • Little brother?’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • What sound to-night, between Hell and Heaven?)
Image of page 136 page: 136
Note: There is an ink line drawn down the left margin along the entire length of the text on this page.
  • ‘I hear a horse-tread, and I see,
  • Sister Helen,
  • Three horsemen that ride terribly.’
  • 60‘Little brother, whence come the three,
  • Little brother?’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • Whence should they come, between Hell and Heaven?)
  • ‘They come by the hill-verge from Boyne Bar,
  • Sister Helen,
  • And one draws nigh, but two are afar.’
  • ‘Look, look, do you know them who they are,
  • Little brother?’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • 70 Who should they be, between Hell and Heaven?)
  • ‘Oh, it's Keith of Eastholm rides so fast,
  • Sister Helen,
  • For I know the white mane on the blast.’
  • ‘The hour has come, has come at last,
  • Little brother!’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • Her hour at last, between Hell and Heaven!)
Image of page 137 page: 137
Note: There is an ink line drawn down the right margin along the entire length of the text on this page. And a dot hasbeen scribbled next to the fourth line of the last stanza.
  • ‘He has made a sign and called Halloo!
  • Sister Helen,
  • 80 And he says that he would speak with you.’
  • ‘Oh tell him I fear the frozen dew,
  • Little brother.’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • Why laughs she thus, between Hell and Heaven?)
  • ‘The wind is loud, but I hear him cry,
  • Sister Helen,
  • That Keith of Ewern's like to die.’
  • ‘And he and thou, and thou and I,
  • Little brother.’
  • 90 ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • And they and we, between Hell and Heaven!)
  • ‘For three days now he has lain abed,
  • Sister Helen,
  • And he prays in torment to be dead.’
  • ‘The thing may chance, if he have prayed,
  • Little brother!’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • If he have prayed, between Hell and Heaven!)
Image of page 138 page: 138
Note: There are pencil circles drawn in the left margin next to the fourth line of the first stanza and the fourth line of the second stanza. There is an ink line drawn down the left margin next to the last stanza on the page.
  • ‘But he has not ceased to cry to-day,
  • 100 Sister Helen,
  • That you should take your curse away.’
  • My prayer was heard,—he need but pray,
  • Little brother!’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • Shall God not hear, between Hell and Heaven?)
  • ‘But he says, till you take back your ban,
  • Sister Helen,
  • His soul would pass, yet never can.’
  • ‘Nay then, shall I slay a living man,
  • 110 Little brother?’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • A living soul, between Hell and Heaven!)
  • ‘But he calls for ever on your name,
  • Sister Helen,
  • And says that he melts before a flame.’
  • ‘My heart for his pleasure fared the same,
  • Little brother.’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • Fire at the heart, between Hell and Heaven!)
Image of page 139 page: 139
Note: There is an ink line drawn down the right margin along the entire length of the text on this page.
  • 120‘Here's Keith of Westholm riding fast,
  • Sister Helen,
  • For I know the white plume on the blast.’
  • ‘The hour, the sweet hour I forecast,
  • Little brother!’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • Is the hour sweet, between Hell and Heaven?)
  • ‘He stops to speak, and he stills his horse,
  • Sister Helen;
  • But his words are drowned in the wind's course.’
  • 130‘Nay hear, nay hear, you must hear perforce,
  • Little brother!’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • A word ill heard, between Hell and Heaven!)
  • ‘Oh he says that Keith of Ewern's cry,
  • Sister Helen,
  • Is ever to see you ere he die.’
  • ‘He sees me in earth, in moon and sky,
  • Little brother!’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • 140 Earth, moon and sky, between Hell and Heaven!)
Image of page 140 page: 140
Note: There is an ink line drawn down the left margin next to the first two stanzas on the page. There is also a pencilled circle in the left margin next to the fourth line of the last stanza on the page. The type for the right single quote at the end of the fifth line appears broken here and in other versions of this proof.
  • ‘He sends a ring and a broken coin,
  • Sister Helen,
  • And bids you mind the banks of Boyne.’
  • ‘What else he broke will he ever join,
  • Little brother?’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • Oh, never more, between Hell and Heaven!)
  • ‘He yields you these and craves full fain,
  • Sister Helen,
  • 150 You pardon him in his mortal pain.’
  • ‘What else he took will he give again,
  • Little brother?’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • No more again, between Hell and Heaven!)
  • ‘He calls your name in an agony,
  • Sister Helen,
  • That even dead Love must weep to see.’
  • ‘Hate, born of Love, is blind as he,
  • Little brother!’
  • 160 ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • Love turned to hate, between Hell and Heaven!)
Image of page 141 page: 141
Note: There is an ink line drawn down the right margin next to the first and last stanzas on this page.
  • ‘Oh it's Keith of Keith now that rides fast,
  • Sister Helen,
  • For I know the white hair on the blast.’
  • ‘The short short hour will soon be past,
  • Litle brother!’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • Will soon be past, between Hell and Heaven!)
  • ‘He looks at me and he tries to speak,
  • 170 Sister Helen,
  • But oh! his voice is sad and weak!’
  • ‘What here should the mighty Baron seek,
  • Little brother?’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • Is this the end, between Hell and Heaven!)
  • ‘Oh his son still cries, if you forgive,
  • Sister Helen,
  • The body dies but the soul shall live.’
  • ‘Fire shall forgive me as I forgive,
  • 180 Little brother!’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • As she forgives, between Hell and Heaven!)
Image of page 142 page: 142
Note: There is an ink line drawn down the left margin next to the first two lines of the first stanza and the entire last stanza on this page. There are also pencilled circles in the left margin next to the fourth line of the first stanza and the third line of the second stanza on this page.
  • ‘Oh he prays you, as his heart would rive,
  • Sister Helen,
  • To save his dear son's soul alive.’
  • ‘Nay, flame cannot slay it, it shall thrive,
  • Little brother!’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • Alas, alas, between Hell and Heaven!)
  • 190‘He cries to you, kneeling in the road,
  • Sister Helen,
  • To go with him for the love of God!’
  • ‘The way is long to his son's abode,
  • Little brother.’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • The way is long, between Hell and Heaven!)
  • ‘O Sister Helen, you heard the bell,
  • Sister Helen!
  • More loud than the vesper-chime it fell.’
  • 200‘No vesper-chime, but a dying knell,
  • Little brother!’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • His dying knell, between Hell and Heaven!)
Image of page 143 page: 143
Note: There is an ink line drawn down the right margin along the entire length of the text on this page. There is a long ink mark in the right margin next to the last line of the second stanza.
  • ‘Alas! but I fear the heavy sound,
  • Sister Helen;
  • Is it in the sky or in the ground?’
  • ‘Say, have they turned their horses round,
  • Little brother?’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • 210 What would she more, between Hell and Heaven?)
  • ‘They have raised the old man from his knee,
  • Sister Helen,
  • And they ride in silence hastily.’
  • ‘More fast the naked soul doth flee,
  • Little brother!’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • The naked soul, between Hell and Heaven!)
  • ‘Oh the wind is sad in the iron chill,
  • Sister Helen,
  • 220 And weary sad they look by the hill.’
  • ‘But Keith of Ewern's sadder still,
  • Little brother!’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • Most sad of all, between Hell and Heaven!)
Image of page 144 page: 144
Note: There is an ink line drawn down the left margin along the entire length of the text on this page.
  • ‘See, see, the wax has dropped from its place,
  • Sister Helen,
  • And the flames are winning up apace!’
  • ‘Yet here they burn but for a space,
  • Little brother!’
  • 230 ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • Here for a space, between Hell and Heaven!)
  • ‘Ah! what white thing at the door has cross'd,
  • Sister Helen?
  • Ah! what is this that sighs in the frost?’
  • ‘A soul that's lost as mine is lost,
  • Little brother!’
  • ( O Mother, Mary Mother,
  • Lost, lost, all lost, between Hell and Heaven!)
Manuscript Addition: relentless irony—a convincing / tale [?]- / Its refrain:-the echo from earth / & heaven of her utter despair & / convincing hate - most effective.
Editorial Description: Written in pencil at the bottom of the page.
Image of page 209 page: 209
Note: Here a large section is missing from the proofs.
  • Watch thou and fear; to-morrow thou shalt die.
  • Or art thou sure thou shalt have time for death?
  • Is not the day which God's word promiseth
  • To come man knows not when? In yonder sky,
  • Now while we speak, the sun speeds forth: Can I
  • Or thou assure him of his goal? God's breath
  • Even at the moment haply quickeneth
  • The air to a flame; till spirits, always nigh
  • Though screened and hid, shall walk the daylight here.
  • 10 And dost thou prate of all that man shall do?
  • Canst thou, who hast but plagues, presume to be
  • Glad in his gladness that comes after thee?
  • Will his strength slay thy worm in Hell? Go to:
  • Cover thy countenance, and watch, and fear.
Sig. P
Image of page 210 page: 210
  • Think thou and act; to-morrow thou shalt die.
  • Outstretched in the sun's warmth upon the shore,
  • Thou say'st: ‘Man's measured path is all gone o'er:
  • Up all his years, steeply, with strain and sigh,
  • Man clomb until he touched the truth; and I,
  • Even I, am he whom it was destined for.’
  • How should this be? Art thou then so much more
  • Than they who sowed, that thou shouldst reap thereby?
  • Nay, come up hither. From this wave-washed mound
  • 10 Unto the furthest flood-brim look with me;
  • Then reach on with thy thought till it be drown'd.
  • Miles and miles distant though the grey line be,
  • And though thy soul sail leagues and leagues beyond,—
  • Still, leagues beyond those leagues, there is more sea.
Image of page 211 page: 211

  • I said: ‘Nay, pluck not,—let the first fruit be:
  • Even as thou sayest, it is sweet and red,
  • But let it ripen still. The tree's bent head
  • Sees in the stream its own fecundity
  • And bides the day of fulness. Shall not we
  • At the sun's hour that day possess the shade,
  • And claim our fruit before its ripeness fade,
  • And eat it from the branch and praise the tree?’
  • I say: ‘Alas! our fruit hath wooed the sun
  • 10 Too long,—'tis fallen and floats adown the stream.
  • Lo, the last clusters! Pluck them every one,
  • And let us sup with summer; ere the gleam
  • Of autumn set the year's pent sorrow free,
  • And the woods wail like echoes from the sea.’
Note: The last three words of the twelfth line, the second through seventh words of the thirteenth line, and the fifth and sixth words of the fourteenth line underlined in pencil. There is a pencilled slash mark in the right margin next to the last line of the poem.
Image of page 212 page: 212

  • What is the sorriest thing that enters Hell?
  • None of the sins,—but this and that fair deed
  • Which a soul's sin at length could supersede.
  • These yet are virgins, whom death's timely knell
  • Might once have sainted; whom the fiends compel
  • Together now, in snake-bound shuddering sheaves
  • Of anguish, while the scorching bridegroom leaves
  • Their refuse maidenhood abominable.
  • Night sucks them down, the garbage of the pit,
  • 10 Whose names, half entered in the book of Life,
  • Were God's desire at noon. And as their hair
  • And eyes sink last, the Torturer deigns no whit
  • To gaze, but, yearning, waits his worthier wife,
  • The Sin still blithe on earth that sent them there.
Image of page 213 page: 213

  • The lost days of my life until to-day,
  • What were they, could I see them on the street
  • Lie as they fell? Would they be ears of wheat
  • Sown once for food but trodden into clay?
  • Or golden coins squandered and still to pay?
  • Or drops of blood dabbling the guilty feet?
  • Or such spilt water as in dreams must cheat
  • The throats of men in Hell, who thirst alway?
  • I do not see them here; but after death
  • 10 God knows I know the faces I shall see,
  • Each one a murdered self, with low last breath.
  • ‘I am thyself,—what hast thou done to me?’
  • ‘And I—and I—thyself,’ (lo! each one saith,)
  • ‘And thou thyself to all eternity!’
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  • When first that horse, within whose populous womb
  • The birth was death, o'ershadowed Troy with fate,
  • Her elders, dubious of its Grecian freight,
  • Brought Helen there to sing the songs of home:
  • She whispered, ‘Friends, I am alone; come, come!’
  • Then, crouched within, Ulysses waxed afraid,
  • And on his comrades' quivering mouths he laid
  • His hands, and held them till the voice was dumb.
  • The same was he who, lashed to his own mast,
  • 10 There where the sea-flowers screen the charnel-caves,
  • Beside the sirens' singing island pass'd,
  • Till sweetness failed along the inveterate waves. . . .
  • Say, soul,—are songs of Death no heaven to thee,
  • Nor shames her lip the cheek of Victory?
Image of page 215 page: 215

  • Get thee behind me. Even as, heavy-curled,
  • Stooping against the wind, a charioteer
  • Is caught from out his chariot by the hair,
  • So shall Time be; and as the void car, hurled
  • Abroad by reinless steeds, even so the world:
  • Yea, even as chariot-dust upon the air,
  • It shall be sought and not found anywhere.
  • Get thee behind me, Satan. Oft unfurled,
  • Thy perilous wings can beat and break like lath
  • 10 Much mightiness of men to win thee praise.
  • Leave these weak feet to tread in narrow ways.
  • Thou still, upon the broad vine-sheltered path,
  • Mayst wait the turning of the phials of wrath
  • For certain years, for certain months and days.
Image of page 216 page: 216

Note: There is a pencil mark in the right margin next to the fifth and sixth lines.
  • As when two men have loved a woman well,
  • Each hating each, through Love's and Death's deceit;
  • Since not for either this stark marriage-sheet
  • And the long pauses of this wedding-bell;
  • Yet o'er her grave the night and day dispel
  • At last their feud forlorn, with cold and heat;
  • Nor other than dear friends to death may fleet
  • The two lives left that most of her can tell:—
  • So separate hopes, which in a soul had wooed
  • 10 The one same Peace, strove with each other long,
  • And Peace before their faces perished since:
  • So through that soul, in restless brotherhood,
  • They roam together now, and wind among
  • Its bye-streets, knocking at the dusty inns.
Image of page 217 page: 217

  • Beholding youth and hope in mockery caught
  • From life; and mocking pulses that remain
  • When the soul's death of bodily death is fain;
  • Honour unknown, and honour known unsought;
  • And penury's sedulous self-torturing thought
  • On gold, whose master therewith buys his bane;
  • And longed-for woman longing all in vain
  • For lonely man with love's desire distraught;
  • And wealth, and strength, and power, and pleasantness,
  • 10 Given unto bodies of whose souls men say,
  • None poor and weak, slavish and foul, as they:—
  • Beholding these things, I behold no less
  • The blushing morn and blushing eve confess
  • The shame that loads the intolerable day.
Image of page 218 page: 218

Note: There is a pencilled slash mark in the left margin next to the space between the octave and sestet.
  • Around the vase of Life at your slow pace
  • He has not crept, but turned it with his hands,
  • And all its sides already understands.
  • There, girt, one breathes alert for some great race;
  • Whose road runs far by sands and fruitful space;
  • Who laughs, yet through the jolly throng has pass'd;
  • Who weeps, nor stays for weeping; who at last,
  • A youth, stands somewhere crowned, with silent face.
  • And he has filled this vase with wine for blood,
  • 10 With blood for tears, with spice for burning vow,
  • With watered flowers for buried love most fit;
  • And would have cast it shattered to the flood,
  • Yet in Fate's name has kept it whole; which now
  • Stands empty till his ashes fall in it.
Image of page 219 page: 219
Sonnets XLIII., XLIV.

Note: There is a pencilled slash mark in the right margin next to the third line of the sestet.
  • To-day Death seems to me an infant child
  • Which her worn mother Life upon my knee
  • Has set to grow my friend and play with me;
  • If haply so my heart might be beguil'd
  • To find no terrors in a face so mild,—
  • If haply so my weary heart might be
  • Unto the newborn milky eyes of thee,
  • O Death, before resentment reconcil'd.
  • How long, O Death? And shall thy feet depart
  • 10 Still a young child's with mine, or wilt thou stand
  • Fullgrown the helpful daughter of my heart,
  • What time with thee indeed I reach the strand
  • Of the pale wave which knows thee what thou art,
  • And drink it in the hollow of thy hand?
Image of page 220 page: 220
  • And thou, O Life, the lady of all bliss,
  • With whom, when our first heart beat full and fast,
  • I wandered till the haunts of men were pass'd,
  • And in fair places found all bowers amiss
  • Till only woods and waves might hear our kiss,
  • While to the winds all thought of Death we cast:—
  • Ah! Life, and must I have from thee at last
  • No smile to greet me and no babe but this?
  • Lo! Love, the child once ours; and Song, whose hair
  • 10 Blew like a flame and blossomed like a wreath;
  • And Art, whose eyes were worlds by God found fair;
  • These o'er the book of Nature mixed their breath
  • With neck-twined arms, as oft we watched them there:
  • And did these die that thou mightst bear me Death?
Image of page 221 page: 221

Note: There is a pencilled slash mark in the right margin next to the third and fourth lines of the sestet.
  • Look in my face; my name is Might-have-been;
  • I am also called No-more, Too-late, Farewell;
  • Unto thine ear I hold the dead-sea shell
  • Cast up thy Life's foam-fretted feet between;
  • Unto thine eyes the glass where that is seen
  • Which had Life's form and Love's, but by my spell
  • Is now a shaken shadow intolerable,
  • Of ultimate things unuttered the frail screen.
  • Mark me, how still I am! But should there dart
  • 10 One moment through thy soul the soft surprise
  • Of that winged Peace which lulls the breath of sighs,—
  • Then shalt thou see me smile, and turn apart
  • Thy visage to mine ambush at thy heart
  • Sleepless with cold commemorative eyes.
Image of page 222 page: 222

Note: The number 10 is written in pencil to the left of the space between the sonnet number and the title. There is also a pencil mark in the left margin next to the last two lines of the octave.
  • When vain desire at last and vain regret
  • Go hand in hand to death, and all is vain,
  • What shall assuage the unforgotten pain
  • And teach the unforgetful to forget?
  • Shall Peace be still a sunk stream long unmet,—
  • Or may the soul at once in a green plain
  • Stoop through the spray of some sweet life-fountain
  • And cull the dew-drenched flowering amulet?
  • Ah! when the wan soul in that golden air
  • 10 Between the scriptured petals softly blown
  • Peers breathless for the gift of grace unknown,—
  • Let no such joys as other souls count fair
  • But only the one Hope's one name be there,—
  • Not less nor more, but even that word alone.
Image of page 223 page: 223
  • Between the hands, between the brows,
  • Between the lips of Love-Lily,
  • A spirit is born whose birth endows
  • My blood with fire to burn through me;
  • Who breathes upon my gazing eyes,
  • Who laughs and murmurs in mine ear,
  • At whose least touch my colour flies,
  • And whom my life grows faint to hear.
  • Within the voice, within the heart,
  • 10 Within the mind of Love-Lily,
  • A spirit is born who lifts apart
  • His tremulous wings and looks at me;
  • Who on my mouth his finger lays,
  • And shows, while whispering lutes confer,
  • That Eden of Love's watered ways
  • Whose winds and spirits worship her.
  • Brows, hands, and lips, heart, mind, and voice,
  • Kisses and words of Love-Lily,—
  • Oh! bid me with your joy rejoice
  • 20 Till riotous longing rest in me!
  • Ah! let not hope be still distraught,
  • But find in her its gracious goal,
  • Whose speech Truth knows not from her thought
  • Nor Love her body from her soul.
Image of page 224 page: 224
Note: There is a pencil mark in the left margin next to the last line of the third stanza.
  • Peace in her chamber, wheresoe'er
  • It be, a holy place:
  • The thought still brings my soul such grace
  • As morning meadows wear.
  • Whether it still be small and light,
  • A maid's who dreams alone,
  • As from her orchard-gate the moon
  • Its ceiling showed at night:
  • Or whether, in a shadow dense
  • 10 As nuptial hymns invoke,
  • Innocent maidenhood awoke
  • To married innocence:
  • There still the thanks unheard await
  • The unconscious gift bequeathed;
  • And there my soul this hour has breathed
  • An air inviolate.
Image of page 225 page: 225
Sig. Q
Note: There is a pencilled x in the right margin next to the title, and a pencilled slash mark in the right margin next to the third line of the last stanza on this page.
  • In a soft-complexioned sky,
  • Fleeting rose and kindling grey,
  • Have you seen Aurora fly
  • At the break of day?
  • So my maiden, so my plighted may
  • Blushing cheek and gleaming eye
  • Lifts to look my way.
  • Where the inmost leaf is stirred
  • With the heart-beat of the grove,
  • 10 Have you heard a hidden bird
  • Cast her note above?
  • So my lady, so my lovely love,
  • Echoing Cupid's prompted word,
  • Makes a tune thereof.
  • Have you seen, at heaven's mid-height,
  • In the moon-wrack's ebb and tide,
  • Venus leap forth burning white,
  • Dian pale and hide?
  • So my bright breast-jewel, so my bride,
  • 20 One sweet night, when fear takes flight,
  • Shall leap against my side.
Image of page 226 page: 226
Note: There is a pencilled x mark in the left margin next to the title.
  • I have been here before,
  • But when or how I cannot tell:
  • I know the grass beyond the door,
  • The sweet keen smell,
  • The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.
  • You have been mine before,—
  • How long ago I may not know:
  • But just when at that swallow's soar
  • Your neck turned so,
  • 10Some veil did fall,—I knew it all of yore.
  • Then, now,—perchance again! . . . .
  • O round mine eyes your tresses shake!
  • Shall we not lie as we have lain
  • Thus for Love's sake,
  • And sleep, and wake, yet never break the chain?
Manuscript Addition: the sonnets are weighty with thought: / the lyrics are swift & delicate as the / emotions they preserve & perpetuate
Editorial Description: Written in pencil at the bottom of the page.
Image of page 227 page: 227
  • A little while a little love
  • The hour yet bears for thee and me
  • Who have not drawn the veil to see
  • If still our heaven be lit above.
  • Thou merely, at the day's last sigh,
  • Hast felt thy soul prolong the tone;
  • And I have heard the night-wind cry
  • And deemed its speech mine own.
  • A little while a little love
  • 10 The scattering autumn hoards for us
  • Whose bower is not yet ruinous
  • Nor quite unleaved our songless grove.
  • Only across the shaken boughs
  • We hear the flood-tides seek the sea,
  • And deep in both our hearts they rouse
  • One wail for thee and me.
  • A little while a little love
  • May yet be ours who have not said
  • The word it makes our eyes afraid
  • 20To know that each is thinking of.
  • Not yet the end: be our lips dumb
  • In smiles a little season yet:
  • I'll tell thee, when the end is come,
  • How we may best forget.
Image of page 228 page: 228
  • Say, is it day, is it dusk in thy bower,
  • Thou whom I long for, who longest for me?
  • Oh! be it light, be it night, 'tis Love's hour,
  • Love's that is fettered as Love's that is free.
  • Free Love has leaped to that innermost chamber,
  • Oh! the last time, and the hundred before:
  • Fettered Love, motionless, can but remember,
  • Yet something that sighs from him passes the door.
  • Nay, but my heart when it flies to thy bower,
  • 10 What does it find there that knows it again?
  • There it must droop like a shower-beaten flower,
  • Red at the rent core and dark with the rain.
  • Ah! yet what shelter is still shed above it,—
  • What waters still image its leaves torn apart?
  • Thy soul is the shade that clings round it to love it,
  • And tears are its mirror deep down in thy heart.
  • What were my prize, could I enter thy bower,
  • This day, to-morrow, at eve or at morn?
    Image of page 229 page: 229
  • Large lovely arms and a neck like a tower,
  • 20 Bosom then heaving that now lies forlorn.
  • Kindled with love-breath, (the sun's kiss is colder!)
  • Thy sweetness all near me, so distant to-day;
  • My hand round thy neck and thy hand on my shoulder,
  • My mouth to thy mouth as the world melts away.
  • What is it keeps me afar from thy bower,—
  • My spirit, my body, so fain to be there?
  • Waters engulfing or fires that devour?—
  • Earth heaped against me or death in the air?
  • Nay, but in day-dreams, for terror, for pity,
  • 30 The trees wave their heads with an omen to tell;
  • Nay, but in night-dreams, throughout the dark city,
  • The hours, clashed together, lose count in the bell.
  • Shall I not one day remember thy bower,
  • One day when all days are one day to me?—
  • Thinking, ‘I stirred not, and yet had the power,’—
  • Yearning, ‘Ah God, if again it might be!’
  • Peace, peace! such a small lamp illumes, on this highway,
  • So dimly so few steps in front of my feet,—
  • Yet shows me that her way is parted from my way. . . .
  • 40 Out of sight, beyond light, at what goal may we meet?
Image of page 230 page: 230
  • I did not look upon her eyes,
  • (Though scarcely seen, with no surprise,
  • 'Mid many eyes a single look,)
  • Because they should not gaze rebuke,
  • Thenceforth, from stars in sky and brook.
  • I did not take her by the hand,
  • (Though little was to understand
  • From touch of hand all friends might take,)
  • Because it should not prove a flake
  • 10Burnt in my palm to boil and ache.
  • I did not listen to her voice,
  • (Though none had noted, where at choice
  • All might rejoice in listening,)
  • Because no such a thing should cling
  • In the wood's moan at evening.
Image of page 231 page: 231
  • I did not cross her shadow once,
  • (Though from the hollow west the sun's
  • Last shadow runs along so far,)
  • Because in June it should not bar
  • 20My ways, at noon when fevers are.
  • They told me she was sad that day,
  • (Though wherefore tell what love's soothsay,
  • Sooner than they, did register?)
  • And my heart leapt and wept to her,
  • And yet I did not speak nor stir.
  • So shall the tongues of the sea's foam
  • (Though many voices therewith come
  • From drowned hope's home to cry to me,)
  • Bewail one hour the more, when sea
  • 30And wind are one with memory.
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  • The wind flapped loose, the wind was still,
  • Shaken out dead from tree and hill:
  • I had walked on at the wind's will,—
  • I sat now, for the wind was still.
  • Between my knees my forehead was,—
  • My lips, drawn in, said not Alas!
  • My hair was over in the grass,
  • My naked ears heard the day pass.
  • My eyes, wide open, had the run
  • 10Of some ten weeds to fix upon;
  • Among those few, out of the sun,
  • The woodspurge flowered, three cups in one.
  • From perfect grief there need not be
  • Wisdom or even memory:
  • One thing then learnt remains to me,—
  • The woodspurge has a cup of three.
Image of page 233 page: 233
  • I plucked a honeysuckle where
  • The hedge on high is quick with thorn,
  • And climbing for the prize, was torn,
  • And fouled my feet in quag-water;
  • And by the thorns and by the wind
  • The blossom that I took was thinn'd,
  • And yet I found it sweet and fair.
  • Thence to a richer growth I came,
  • Where, nursed in mellow intercourse,
  • 10 The honeysuckles sprang by scores,
  • Not harried like my single stem,
  • All virgin lamps of scent and dew.
  • So from my hand that first I threw,
  • Yet plucked not any more of them.
Image of page 234 page: 234
  • These little firs to-day are things
  • To clasp into a giant's cap,
  • Or fans to suit his lady's lap.
  • From many winters many springs
  • Shall cherish them in strength and sap,
  • Till they be marked upon the map,
  • A wood for the wind's wanderings.
  • All seed is in the sower's hands:
  • And what at first was trained to spread
  • 10 Its shelter for some single head,—
  • Yea, even such fellowship of wands,—
  • May hide the sunset, and the shade
  • Of its great multitude be laid
  • Upon the earth and elder sands.
Image of page 235 page: 235
  • Consider the sea's listless chime:
  • Time's self it is, made audible,—
  • The murmur of the earth's own shell.
  • Secret continuance sublime
  • Is the sea's end: our sight may pass
  • No furlong further. Since time was,
  • This sound hath told the lapse of time.
  • No quiet, which is death's,—it hath
  • The mournfulness of ancient life,
  • 10 Enduring always at dull strife.
  • As the world's heart of rest and wrath,
  • Its painful pulse is in the sands.
  • Last utterly, the whole sky stands,
  • Grey and not known, along its path.
  • Listen alone beside the sea,
  • Listen alone among the woods;
    Image of page 236 page: 236
  • Those voices of twin solitudes
  • Shall have one sound alike to thee:
  • Hark where the murmurs of thronged men
  • 20 Surge and sink back and surge again,—
  • Still the one voice of wave and tree.
  • Gather a shell from the strown beach
  • And listen at its lips: they sigh
  • The same desire and mystery,
  • The echo of the whole sea's speech.
  • And all mankind is thus at heart
  • Not anything but what thou art:
  • And Earth, Sea, Man, are all in each.
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Image of page [238] page: [238]
Note: blank page
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By Leonardo Da Vinci.
  • Mother, is this the darkness of the end,
  • The Shadow of Death? and is that outer sea
  • Infinite imminent Eternity?
  • And does the death-pang by man's seed sustain'd
  • In Time's each instant cause thy face to bend
  • Its silent prayer upon the Son, while he
  • Blesses the dead with his hand silently
  • To his long day which hours no more offend?
  • Mother of grace, the pass is difficult,
  • 10 Keen as these rocks, and the bewildered souls
  • Throng it like echoes, blindly shuddering through.
  • Thy name, O Lord, each spirit's voice extols,
  • Whose peace abides in the dark avenue
  • Amid the bitterness of things occult.
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By Giorgione.

( In the Louvre.)
  • Water, for anguish of the solstice:—nay,
  • But dip the vessel slowly,—nay, but lean
  • And hark how at its verge the wave sighs in
  • Reluctant. Hush! Beyond all depth away
  • The heat lies silent at the brink of day:
  • Now trails the hand upon the viol-string
  • That sobs, and the brown faces cease to sing,
  • Sad with the whole of pleasure. Her eyes stray
  • In sunshine; from her mouth the pipe will creep
  • 10 And leave it pouting; shadowed here, the grass
  • Is cool against her naked side. Let be:—
  • Say nothing now unto her lest she weep,
  • Nor name this ever. Be it as it was,—
  • Life touching lips with Immortality.
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Sig. R


By Andrea Mantegna.

( In the Louvre.)
  • Scarcely, I think; yet it indeed may be
  • The meaning reached him, when this music rang
  • Clear through his frame, a sweet possessive pang,
  • And he beheld these rocks and that ridged sea.
  • But I believe that, leaning tow'rds them, he
  • Just felt their hair carried across his face
  • As each girl passed him; nor gave ear to trace
  • How many feet; nor bent assuredly
  • His eyes from the blind fixedness of thought
  • 10 To know the dancers. It is bitter glad
  • Even unto tears. Its meaning filleth it,
  • A secret of the wells of Life: to wit:—
  • The heart's each pulse shall keep the sense it had
  • With all, though the mind's labour run to nought.
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By Ingres.

( Two Sonnets.)
  • A remote sky, prolonged to the sea's brim:
  • One rock-point standing buffeted alone,
  • Vexed at its base with a foul beast unknown,
  • Hell-birth of geomaunt and teraphim:
  • A knight, and a winged creature bearing him,
  • Reared at the rock: a woman fettered there,
  • Leaning into the hollow with loose hair
  • And throat let back and heartsick trail of limb.
  • The sky is harsh, and the sea shrewd and salt:
  • 10 Under his lord the griffin-horse ramps blind
  • With rigid wings and tail. The spear's lithe stem
  • Thrills in the roaring of those jaws: behind,
  • That evil length of body chafes at fault.
  • She doth not hear nor see—she knows of them.
Image of page 243 page: 243
  • Clench thine eyes now,—'tis the last instant, girl:
  • Draw in thy senses, set thy knees, and take
  • One breath for all: thy life is keen awake,—
  • Thou mayst not swoon. Was that the scattered whirl
  • Of its foam drenched thee?—or the waves that curl
  • And split, bleak spray wherein thy temples ache?
  • Or was it his the champion's blood to flake
  • Thy flesh?—or thine own blood's anointing, girl?
  • Now, silence: for the sea's is such a sound
  • 10 As irks not silence; and except the sea,
  • All now is still. Now the dead thing doth cease
  • To writhe, and drifts. He turns to her: and she,
  • Cast from the jaws of Death, remains there, bound,
  • Again a woman in her nakedness.
Image of page 244 page: 244

( For a Picture.)
Note: There is a pencil mark to the right of the title.
  • This is that blessed Mary, pre-elect
  • God's Virgin. Gone is a great while, and she
  • Dwelt young in Nazareth of Galilee.
  • Unto God's will she brought devout respect,
  • Profound simplicity of intellect,
  • And supreme patience. From her mother's knee
  • Faithful and hopeful; wise in charity;
  • Strong in grave peace; in pity circumspect.
  • So held she through her girlhood; as it were
  • 10 An angel-watered lily, that near God
  • Grows and is quiet. Till, one dawn at home,
  • She woke in her white bed, and had no fear
  • At all,—yet wept till sunshine, and felt awed:
  • Because the fulness of the time was come.
Image of page 245 page: 245

( For a Picture.)
Note: There is a pencilled slash mark in the right margin next to the fourth and fifth lines of the sestet.
  • She hath the apple in her hand for thee,
  • Yet almost in her heart would hold it back;
  • She muses, with her eyes upon the track
  • Of that which in thy spirit they can see.
  • Haply, ‘Behold, he is at peace,’ saith she;
  • ‘Alas! the apple for his lips,—the dart
  • That follows its brief sweetness to his heart,—
  • The wandering of his feet perpetually!’
  • A little space her glance is still and coy;
  • 10 But if she give the fruit that works her spell,
  • Those eyes shall flame as for her Phrygian boy.
  • Then shall her bird's strained throat the woe foretell,
  • And her far seas moan as a single shell,
  • And her grove glow with love-lit fires of Troy.
Image of page 246 page: 246

( For a Picture.)
Note: There is a pencilled slash mark on the left side of the title.
  • Of Adam's first wife, Lilith, it is told
  • (The witch he loved before the gift of Eve,)
  • That, ere the snake's, her sweet tongue could deceive,
  • And her enchanted hair was the first gold.
  • And still she sits, young while the earth is old,
  • And, subtly of herself contemplative,
  • Draws men to watch the bright net she can weave,
  • Till heart and body and life are in its hold.
  • The rose and poppy are her flowers; for where
  • 10 Is he not found, O Lilith, whom shed scent
  • And soft-shed kisses and soft sleep shall snare?
  • Lo! as that youth's eyes burned at thine, so went
  • Thy spell through him, and left his straight neck bent,
  • And round his heart one strangling golden hair.
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( For a Picture.)
  • Under the arch of Life, where love and death,
  • Terror and mystery, guard her shrine, I saw
  • Beauty enthroned; and though her gaze struck awe,
  • I drew it in as simply as my breath.
  • Hers are the eyes which, over and beneath,
  • The sky and sea bend on thee,—which can draw,
  • By sea or sky or woman, to one law,
  • The allotted bondman of her palm and wreath.
  • This is that Lady Beauty, in whose praise
  • 10 Thy voice and hand shake still,—long known to thee
  • By flying hair and fluttering hem,—the beat
  • Following her daily of thy heart and feet,
  • How passionately and irretrievably,
  • In what fond flight, how many ways and days!
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( For a Picture.)
Note: There is a pencilled slash mark to the left of the title and sub-title.
  • What of the end, Pandora? Was it thine,
  • The deed that set these fiery pinions free?
  • Ah! wherefore did the Olympian consistory
  • In its own likeness make thee half divine?
  • Was it that Juno's brow might stand a sign
  • For ever? and the mien of Pallas be
  • A deadly thing? and that all men might see
  • In Venus' eyes the gaze of Proserpine?
  • What of the end? These beat their wings at will,
  • 10The ill-born things, the good things turned to ill,—
  • Powers of the impassioned hours prohibited.
  • Aye, hug the casket now! Whither they go
  • Thou mayst not dare to think: nor canst thou know
  • If Hope still pent there be alive or dead.
Image of page 249 page: 249

( For a Drawing.*)
  • ‘Why wilt thou cast the roses from thine hair?
  • Nay, be thou all a rose,—wreath, lips, and cheek.
  • Nay, not this house,—that banquet-house we seek;
  • See how they kiss and enter; come thou there.
  • This delicate day of love we two will share
  • Till at our ear love's whispering night shall speak.
  • What, sweet one,—hold'st thou still the foolish freak?
  • Nay, when I kiss thy feet they'll leave the stair.’
  • ‘Oh loose me! See'st thou not my Bridegroom's face
  • 10 That draws me to Him? For His feet my kiss,
  • My hair, my tears He craves to-day:—and oh!
  • What words can tell what other day and place
  • Shall see me clasp those blood-stained feet of His?
  • He needs me, calls me, loves me: let me go!’
Transcribed Footnote (page 249):

*In the drawing Mary has left a festal procession, and is ascending

by a sudden impulse the steps of the house where she sees Christ.

Her lover has followed her and is trying to turn her back.

Image of page 250 page: 250

( For a Drawing.*)
  • Here meet together the prefiguring day
  • And day prefigured. ‘Eating, thou shalt stand,
  • Feet shod, loins girt, thy road-staff in thine hand,
  • With blood-stained door and lintel,’—did God say
  • By Moses' mouth in ages passed away.
  • And now, where this poor household doth comprise
  • At Paschal-Feast two kindred families,—
  • Lo! the slain lamb confronts the Lamb to slay.
  • The pyre is piled. What agony's crown attained,
  • 10 What shadow of death the Boy's fair brow subdues
  • Who holds that blood wherewith the porch is stained
  • By Zachary the priest? John binds the shoes
  • He deemed himself not worthy to unloose;
  • And Mary culls the bitter herbs ordained.
Transcribed Footnote (page 250):

*The scene is in the house-porch, where Christ holds a bowl of

blood from which Zacharias is sprinkling the posts and lintel.

Joseph has brought the lamb and Elizabeth lights the pyre. The

shoes which John fastens and the bitter herbs which Mary is gather-

ing form part of the ritual.

Image of page 251 page: 251

( Two Sonnets for a Drawing.*)
  • Rend, rend thine hair, Cassandra: he will go.
  • Yea, rend thy garments, wring thine hands, and cry
  • From Troy still towered to the unreddened sky.
  • See, all but she that bore thee mock thy woe:—
  • He most whom that fair woman arms, with show
  • Of wrath on her bent brows; for in this place
  • This hour thou bad'st all men in Helen's face
  • The ravished ravishing prize of Death to know.
  • What eyes, what ears hath sweet Andromache,
  • 10 Save for her Hector's form and step; as tear
  • On tear makes salt the warm last kiss he gave?
  • He goes. Cassandra's words beat heavily
  • Like crows above his crest, and at his ear
  • Ring hollow in the shield that shall not save.
Transcribed Footnote (page 251):

*The subject shows Cassandra prophesying among her kindred,

as Hector leaves them for his last battle. They are on the platform

of a fortress, from which the Trojan troops are marching out. Helen

is arming Paris; Priam soothes Hecuba; and Andromache holds

the child to her bosom.

Image of page 252 page: 252
  • ‘O Hector, gone, gone, gone! O Hector, thee
  • Two chariots wait, in Troy long bless'd and curs'd;
  • And Grecian spear and Phrygian sand athirst
  • Crave from thy veins the blood of victory.
  • Lo! long upon our hearth the brand had we,
  • Lit for the roof-tree's ruin: and to-day
  • The ground-stone quits the wall,—the wind hath way,—
  • And higher and higher the wings of fire are free.
  • O Paris, Paris! O thou burning brand,
  • 10 Thou beacon of the sea whence Venus rose,
  • Lighting thy race to shipwreck! Even that hand
  • Wherewith she took thine apple let her close
  • Within thy curls at last, and while Troy glows
  • Lift thee her trophy to the sea and land.’
Image of page 253 page: 253
  • Not that the earth is changing, O my God!
  • Nor that the seasons totter in their walk,—
  • Not that the virulent ill of act and talk
  • Seethes ever as a winepress ever trod,—
  • Not therefore are we certain that the rod
  • Weighs in thine hand to smite thy world; though now
  • Beneath thine hand so many nations bow,
  • So many kings:—not therefore, O my God!—
  • But because Man is parcelled out in men
  • 10 Even thus; because, for any wrongful blow,
  • No man not stricken asks, ‘I would be told
  • Why thou dost strike;’ but his heart whispers then,
  • ‘He is he, I am I.’ By this we know
  • That the earth falls asunder, being old.
Image of page 254 page: 254
  • As he that loves oft looks on the dear form
  • And guesses how it grew to womanhood,
  • And gladly would have watched the beauties bud
  • And the mild fire of precious life wax warm:—
  • So I, long bound within the threefold charm
  • Of Dante's love sublimed to heavenly mood,
  • Had marvelled, touching his Beatitude,
  • How grew such presence from man's shameful swarm.
  • At length within this book I found pourtrayed
  • 10 Newborn that Paradisal Love of his,
  • And simple like a child; with whose clear aid
  • I understood. To such a child as this,
  • Christ, charging well his chosen ones, forbade
  • Offence: ‘for lo! of such my kingdom is.’
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( In Memory of my Father.)
  • And did'st thou know indeed, when at the font
  • Together with thy name thou gav'st me his,
  • That also on thy son must Beatrice
  • Decline her eyes according to her wont,
  • Accepting me to be of those that haunt
  • The vale of magical sweet mysteries
  • Where to the hills her poet's foot-track lies
  • And wisdom's living fountain to his chaunt
  • Trembles in music? This is that steep land
  • 10 Where he that holds his journey stands at gaze
  • Tow'rd sunset, when the clouds like a new height
  • Seem piled to climb. These things I understand:
  • For here, where day still soothes my lifted face,
  • On thy bowed head, my father, fell the night.
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Note: There is a numeral 3 written in pencil on the bottom center of the page.
Note: This page is lightly soiled.
  • Give honour unto Luke Evangelist;
  • For he it was (the aged legends say)
  • Who first taught Art to fold her hands and pray.
  • Scarcely at once she dared to rend the mist
  • Of devious symbols: but soon having wist
  • How sky-breadth and field-silence and this day
  • Are symbols also in some deeper way,
  • She looked through these to God and was God's priest.
  • And if, past noon, her toil began to irk,
  • 10And she sought talismans, and turned in vain
  • To soulless self-reflections of man's skill,—
  • Yet now, in this the twilight, she might still
  • Kneel in the latter grass to pray again,
  • Ere the night cometh and she may not work.
Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Copyright: Personal library of Jerome McGann.