Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Poems. A New Edition (1881), proof Signature N (Delaware Museum, first proof (partial printer's copy))
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1881 May 16 (circa)
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Strangeways and Walden
Issue: 1

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

Image of page 177 page: 177
Sig. N
  • 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.
Image of page 178 page: 178
  • 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
  • Image of page 179 page: 179
  • 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?
Image of page 180 page: 180

18 th November , 1852.
  • ‘Victory!’
  • So once more the cry must be.
  • Duteous mourning we fulfil
  • In God's name; but by God's will,
  • Doubt not, the last word is still
  • ‘Victory!’
  • Funeral,
  • In the music round this pall,
  • Solemn grief yields earth to earth;
  • 10 But what tones of solemn mirth
  • In the pageant of new birth
  • Rise and fall?
  • For indeed,
  • If our eyes were openèd,
  • Who shall say what escort floats
Image of page 183 page: 183
  • So methinks upon thy plain
  • Falls some presage in the rain,
  • 60 In the dew.
  • And O thou,
  • Watching with an exile's brow
  • Unappeased, o'er death's dumb flood:—
  • Lo! the saving strength of God
  • In some new heart's English blood
  • Slumbers now.
  • Emperor,
  • Is this all thy work was for?—
  • Thus to see thy self-sought aim,
  • 70 Yea thy titles, yea thy name,
  • In another's shame, to shame
  • Bandied o'er? *
  • Wellington,
  • Thy great work is but begun.
  • With quick seed his end is rife
  • Whose long tale of conquering strife
  • Shows no triumph like his life
  • Lost and won.
Transcribed Footnote (page 183):

* Date of the Coup d' Etat: 2nd December, 1851.

Image of page 184 page: 184
  • How should I your true love know
  • From another one?
  • By his cockle-hat and staff
  • And his sandal-schoon.’
  • ‘And what signs have told you now
  • That he hastens home?’
  • ‘Lo! the spring is nearly gone,
  • He is nearly come.’
  • ‘For a token is there nought,
  • 10 Say, that he should bring?’
  • ‘He will bear a ring I gave
  • And another ring.’
  • ‘How may I, when he shall ask,
  • Tell him who lies there?’
  • ‘Nay, but leave my face unveiled
  • And unbound my hair.’
  • ‘Can you say to me some word
  • I shall say to him?’
  • ‘Say I'm looking in his eyes
  • 20 Though my eyes are dim.’
Image of page 185 page: 185
  • 'Tis of the Father Hilary.
  • He strove, but could not pray; so took
  • The steep-coiled stair, where his feet shook
  • A sad blind echo. Ever up
  • He toiled. 'Twas a sick sway of air
  • That autumn noon within the stair,
  • As dizzy as a turning cup.
  • His brain benumbed him, void and thin;
  • He shut his eyes and felt it spin;
  • 10 The obscure deafness hemmed him in.
  • He said: ‘O world, what world for me?’
  • He leaned unto the balcony
  • Where the chime keeps the night and day;
  • It hurt his brain, he could not pray.
  • He had his face upon the stone:
  • Deep 'twixt the narrow shafts, his eye
  • Passed all the roofs to the stark sky,
  • Image of page 186 page: 186
  • Swept with no wing, with wind alone,
  • Close to his feet the sky did shake
  • 20 With wind in pools that the rains make:
  • The ripple set his eyes to ache.
  • He said: ‘O world, what world for me?’
  • He stood within the mystery
  • Girding God's blessed Eucharist:
  • The organ and the chaunt had ceas'd.
  • The last words paused against his ear
  • Said from the altar: drawn round him
  • The gathering rest was dumb and dim.
  • And now the sacring-bell rang clear
  • 30 And ceased and all was awe,—the breath
  • Of God in man that warranteth
  • The inmost utmost things of faith.
  • He said: ‘O God, my world in Thee!’
Image of page 187 page: 187
  • Andromeda, by Perseus saved and wed,
  • Hankered each day to see the Gorgon's head:
  • Till o'er a fount he held it, bade her lean,
  • And mirrored in the wave was safely seen
  • That death she lived by.
  • Let not thine eyes know
  • Any forbidden thing itself, although
  • It once should save as well as kill: but be
  • Its shadow upon life enough for thee.
Image of page 188 page: 188
  • ‘Sister,’ said busy Amelotte
  • To listless Aloÿse;
  • ‘Along your wedding-road the wheat
  • Bends as to hear your horse's feet,
  • And the noonday stands still for heat.’
  • Amelotte laughed into the air
  • With eyes that sought the sun:
  • But where the walls in long brocade
  • Were screened, as one who is afraid
  • 10 Sat Aloÿse within the shade.
  • And even in shade was gleam enough
  • To shut out full repose
  • From the bride's 'tiring-chamber, which
  • Was like the inner altar-niche
  • Whose dimness worship has made rich.
Image of page 189 page: 189
  • Within the window's heaped recess
  • The light was counterchanged
  • In blent reflexes manifold
  • From perfume-caskets of wrought gold
  • 20 And gems the bride's hair could not hold
  • All thrust together: and with these
  • A slim-curved lute, which now,
  • At Amelotte's sudden passing there,
  • Was swept in somewise unaware,
  • And shook to music the close air.
  • Against the haloed lattice-panes
  • The bridesmaid sunned her breast;
  • Then to the glass turned tall and free,
  • And braced and shifted daintily
  • 30 Her loin-belt through her côte-hardie.
  • The belt was silver, and the clasp
  • Of lozenged arm-bearings;
  • A world of mirrored tints minute
  • The rippling sunshine wrought into 't,
  • That flushed her hand and warmed her foot.
Image of page 190 page: 190
  • At least an hour had Aloÿse,—
  • Her jewels in her hair,—
  • Her white gown, as became a bride,
  • Quartered in silver at each side,—
  • 40 Sat thus aloof, as if to hide.
  • Over her bosom, that lay still,
  • The vest was rich in grain,
  • With close pearls wholly overset:
  • Around her throat the fastenings met
  • Of chevesayle and mantelet.
  • Her arms were laid along her lap
  • With the hands open: life
  • Itself did seem at fault in her:
  • Beneath the drooping brows, the stir
  • 50 Of thought made noonday heavier.
  • Long sat she silent; and then raised
  • Her head, with such a gasp
  • As while she summoned breath to speak
  • Fanned high that furnace in the cheek
  • But sucked the heart-pulse cold and weak.
Image of page 191 page: 191
  • (Oh gather round her now, all ye
  • Past seasons of her fear,—
  • Sick springs, and summers deadly cold!
  • To flight your hovering wings unfold,
  • 60 For now your secret shall be told.
  • Ye many sunlights, barbed with darts
  • Of dread detecting flame,—
  • Gaunt moonlights that like sentinels
  • Went past with iron clank of bells,—
  • Draw round and render up your spells!)
  • ‘Sister,’ said Aloÿse, ‘I had
  • A thing to tell thee of
  • Long since, and could not. But do thou
  • Kneel first in prayer awhile, and bow
  • 70 Thine heart, and I will tell thee now.
  • Amelotte wondered with her eyes;
  • But her heart said in her:
  • ‘Dear Aloÿse would have me pray
  • Because the awe she feels to-day
  • Must need more prayers than she can say.’
Image of page 192 page: 192
  • So Amelotte put by the folds
  • That covered up her feet,
  • And knelt,—beyond the arras'd gloom
  • And the hot window's dull perfume,—
  • 80 Where day was stillest in the room.
  • ‘Queen Mary, hear,’ she said, ‘and say
  • To Jesus the Lord Christ,
  • This bride's new joy, which He confers,
  • New joy to many ministers,
  • And many griefs are bound in hers.’
  • The bride turned in her chair, and hid
  • Her face against the back,
  • And took her pearl-girt elbows in
  • Her hands, and could not yet begin,
  • 90 But shuddering, uttered, ‘Urscelyn!’
  • Most weak she was; for as she pressed
  • Her hand against her throat,
  • Along the arras she let trail
  • Her face, as if all heart did fail,
  • And sat with shut eyes, dumb and pale.
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