Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription
Document Title: Poems. A New Edition (1881), proof Signature H (Delaware Museum, first proof,
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1881 May 12 (circa)
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Strangeways and Walden
full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.
- But for mine own sleep, it lies
- In one gracious form's control,
- Fair with honourable 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, is it 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 prayers between,—
- Ah! poor shade!
- Shall it strive, or fade unseen?
120How should love's own messenger
- Strive with love and be love's foe?
- Master, nay! If thus, in her,
- Sleep a wedded heart should show,—
- Silent let mine image go,
- Its old share
- Of thy spell-bound air to know.
- Like a vapour wan and mute,
- Like a flame, so let it pass;
- One low sigh across her lute,
130 One dull breath against her glass;
- And to my sad soul, alas!
- One salute
- Cold as when death's foot shall pass.
- 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.
- 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.
150 Thou 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!
- What thing unto mine ear
- Wouldst thou convey,—what secret thing,
- O wandering water ever whispering?
- Surely thy speech shall be of her.
- Thou water, O thou whispering wanderer,
- What message dost thou bring?
- Say, hath not Love leaned low
- This hour beside thy far well-head,
- And there through jealous hollowed fingers said
10 The thing that most I long to know,—
- Murmuring with curls all dabbled in thy flow
- And washed lips rosy red?
- He told it to thee there
- Where thy voice hath a louder tone;
- But where it welters to this little moan
- His will decrees that I should hear.
- Now speak: for with the silence is no fear,
- And I am all alone.
- Shall Time not still endow
20 One hour with life, and I and she
- Slake in one kiss the thirst of memory?
- Say, stream; lest Love should disavow
- Thy service, and the bird upon the bough
- Sing first to tell it me.
- What whisperest thou? Nay, why
- Name the dead hours? I mind them well:
- Their ghosts in many darkened doorways dwell
- With desolate eyes to know them by.
- The hour that must be born ere it can die,—
30 Of that I'd have thee tell.
- But hear, before thou speak!
- Withhold, I pray, the vain behest
- That while the maze hath still its bower for quest
- My burning heart should cease to seek.
- Be sure that Love ordained for souls more meek
- His roadside dells of rest.
Note: The corrections in this page were made by the printer.
- Stream, when this silver thread
- In flood-time is a torrent brown
- May any bulwark bind thy foaming crown?
40 Shall not the water
- And to the crannied boulders of their bed
- Still shoot the dead drift down?
- Let no rebuke find place
- In speech of thine: or it shall prove
- That thou dost ill expound the words of Love,
- Even as thine eddy's rippling race
- Would blur the perfect image of his face.
- I will have none thereof.
- O learn and understand
50 That 'gainst the wrongs himself did wreak
- Love sought her aid; until her shadowy cheek
- And eyes beseeching gave command;
- And compassed in her close compassionate hand
- My heart must burn and speak.
- For then at last we spoke
- What eyes so oft had told to eyes
- Through that long-lingering silence whose half-sighs
- Alone the buried secret broke,
- Which with snatched hands and lips' reverberate stroke
60 Then from the heart did rise.
- But she is far away
- Now; nor the hours of night grown hoar
- Bring yet to me, long gazing from the door,
- The wind-stirred robe of roseate grey
- And rose-crown of the hour that leads the day
- When we shall meet once more.
- Dark as thy blinded wave
- When brimming midnight floods the glen,—
- Bright as the laughter of thy runnels when
70 The dawn yields all the light they crave;
- Even so these hours to wound and that to save
- Are sisters in Love's ken.
- Oh sweet her bending grace
- Then when I kneel beside her feet;
- And sweet her eyes' o'erhanging heaven; and sweet
- The gathering folds of her embrace;
- And her fall'n hair at last shed round my face
- When breaths and tears shall meet.
- Beneath her sheltering hair,
80 In the warm silence near her breast,
- Our kisses and our sobs shall sink to rest;
- As in some still trance made aware
- That day and night have wrought to fulness there
- And Love has built our nest.
- And as in the dim grove,
- When the rains cease that hushed them long,
- 'Mid glistening boughs the song-birds wake to song,—
- So from our hearts deep-shrined in love,
- While the leaves throb beneath, around, above,
90 The quivering notes shall throng.
- Till tenderest words found vain
- Draw back to wonder mute and deep,
- And closed lips in closed arms a silence keep,
- Subdued by memory's circling strain,—
- The wind-rapt sound that the wind brings again
- While all the willows weep.
- Then by her summoning art
- Shall memory conjure back the sere
- Autumnal Springs, from many a dying year
100 Born dead; and, bitter to the heart,
- The very ways where now we walk apart
- Who then shall cling so near.
- And with each thought new-grown,
- Some sweet caress or some sweet name
- Low-breathed shall let me know her thought the same;
- Making me rich with every tone
- And touch of the dear heaven so long unknown
- That filled my dreams with flame.
- Pity and love shall burn
110 In her pressed cheek and cherishing hands;
- And from the living spirit of love that stands
- Between her lips to soothe and yearn,
- Each separate breath shall clasp me round in turn
- And loose my spirit's bands.
- Oh passing sweet and dear,
- Then when the worshipped form and face
- Are felt at length in darkling close embrace;
- Round which so oft the sun shone clear,
- With mocking light and pitiless atmosphere,
120 In many an hour and place.
Note: The word “mouth” in line
125 has been dropped to the next line.
- Ah me! with what proud growth
- Shall that hour's thirsting race be run;
- While, for each several sweetness still begun
- Afresh, endures love's endless drouth:
- Sweet hands, sweet hair, sweet cheeks, sweet eyes, sweet
- Each singly wooed and won.
- Yet most with the sweet soul
- Shall love's espousals then be knit;
- For very passion of peace shall breathe from it
130 O'er tremulous wings that touch the goal,
- As on the unmeasured height of Love's control
- The lustral fires are lit.
- Therefore, when breast and cheek
- Now part, from long embraces free,—
- Each on the other gazing shall but see
- A self that has no need to speak:
- All things unsought, yet nothing more to seek,—
- One love in unity.
- O water wandering past,—
140 Albeit to thee I speak this thing,
- O water, thou that wanderest whispering,
- Thou keep'st thy counsel to the last.
- What spell upon thy bosom should Love cast,
- His message thence to wring?
- Nay, must thou hear the tale
- Of the past days,—the heavy debt
- Of life that obdurate time withholds,—ere yet
- To win thine ear these prayers prevail,
- And by thy voice Love's self with high All-hail
150 Yield up the love-secret?
- How should all this be told?—
- All the sad sum of wayworn days;—
- Heart's anguish in the impenetrable maze;
- And on the waste uncoloured wold
- The visible burthen of the sun grown cold
- And the moon's labouring gaze?
- Alas! shall hope be nurs'd
- On life's all-succouring breast in vain,
- And made so perfect only to be slain?
160 Or shall not rather the sweet thirst
- Even yet rejoice the heart with warmth dispers'd
- And strength grown fair again?
- Stands it not by the door—
- Love's Hour—till she and I shall meet;
- With bodiless form and unapparent feet
- That cast no shadow yet before,
- Though round its head the dawn begins to pour
- The breath that makes day sweet?
- Its eyes invisible
170 Watch till the dial's thin-thrown shade
- Be born,—yea, till the journeying line be laid
- Upon the point that wakes the spell,
- And there in lovelier light than tongue can tell
- Its presence stand array'd.
- Its soul remembers yet
- Those sunless hours that passed it by;
- And still it hears the night's disconsolate cry,
- And feels the branches wringing wet
- Cast on its brow, that may not once forget,
180 Dumb tears from the blind sky.
- But oh! when now her foot
- Draws near, for whose sake night and day
- Were long in weary longing sighed away,—
- The Hour of Love, 'mid airs grown mute,
- Shall sing beside the door, and Love's own lute
- Thrill to the passionate lay.
- Thou know'st, for Love has told
- Within thine ear, O stream, how soon
- That song shall lift its sweet appointed tune.
190 O tell me, for my lips are cold,
- And in my veins the blood is waxing old
- Even while I beg the boon.
- So, in that hour of sighs
- Assuaged, shall we beside this stone
- Yield thanks for grace; while in thy mirror shown
- The twofold image softly lies,
- Until we kiss, and each in other's eyes
- Is imaged all alone.
- Still silent? Can no art
200 Of Love's then move thy pity? Nay,
- To thee let nothing come that owns his sway:
- Let happy lovers have no part
- With thee; nor even so sad and poor a heart
- As thou hast spurned to-day.
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