Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Poems. A New Edition (1881), proof Signature Q (Delaware Museum, first author's proof (partial))
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 225 page: 225
Manuscript Addition: 401 X
Editorial Note: Printer's notation at top of page.
Sig. Q
  • ‘Then I fell back from them, and lay
  • Outwearied. My tired sense
  • Soon filmed and settled, and like stone
  • I slept; till something made me moan,
  • 740 And I woke up at night alone.
  • ‘I woke at midnight, cold and dazed;
  • Because I found myself
  • Seated upright, with bosom bare,
  • Upon my bed, combing my hair,
  • Ready to go, I knew not where.
  • It dawned light day,—the last of those
  • Long months of longing days.
  • That noon, the change was wrought on me
  • In somewise,—nought to hear or see,—
  • 750 Only a trance and agony.’
  • The bride's voice failed her, from no will
  • To pause. The bridesmaid leaned,
  • And where the window-panes were white,
  • Looked for the day: she knew not quite
  • If there were either day or night.
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Printer's Direction: X
Editorial Description: Printer's notation beside line 767 to correct poor inking.
  • It seemed to Aloÿse that the whole
  • Day's weight lay back on her
  • Like lead. The hours that did remain
  • Beat their dry wings upon her brain
  • 760 Once in mid-flight, and passed again.
  • There hung a cage of burnt perfumes
  • In the recess: but these,
  • For some hours, weak against the sun,
  • Had simmered in white ash. From One
  • The second quarter was begun.
  • They had not heard the stroke. The air,
  • Though altered with no wind,
  • Breathed now by pauses, so to say:
  • Each breath was time that went away,—
  • 770 Each pause a minute of the day.
  • I' the almonry, the almoner,
  • Hard by, had just dispensed
  • Church-dole and march-dole. High and wide
  • Now rose the shout of thanks, which cried
  • On God that He should bless the bride.
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  • Its echo thrilled within their feet,
  • And in the furthest rooms
  • Was heard, where maidens flushed and gay
  • Wove with stooped necks the wreaths alway
  • 780 Fair for the virgin's marriage-day.
  • The mother leaned along, in thought
  • After her child; till tears,
  • Bitter, not like a wedded girl's,
  • Fell down her breast along her curls,
  • And ran in the close work of pearls.
  • The speech ached at her heart. She said:
  • ‘Sweet Mary, do thou plead
  • This hour with thy most blessed Son
  • To let these shameful words atone,
  • 790 That I may die when I have done.’
  • The thought ached at her soul. Yet now:—
  • ‘Itself—that life’ (she said,)
  • Out of my weary life—when sense
  • Unclosed, was gone. What evil men's
  • Most evil hands had borne it thence
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  • The freshness dwelt upon her sense,
  • Yet did not the bride drink;
  • But she dipped in her hand anon
  • And cooled her temples; and all wan
  • 840 With lids that held their ache, went on.
  • ‘Through those dark watches of my woe,
  • Time, an ill plant, had waxed
  • Apace. That year was finished. Dumb
  • And blind, life's wheel with earth's had come
  • Whirled round: and we might seek our home.
  • ‘Our wealth was rendered back, with wealth
  • Snatched from our foes. The house
  • Had more than its old strength and fame:
  • But still 'neath the fair outward claim
  • 850 I rankled,—a fierce core of shame.
  • ‘It chilled me from their eyes and lips
  • Upon a night of those
  • First days of triumph, as I gazed
  • Listless and sick, or scarcely raised
  • My face to mark the sports they praised.
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  • ‘The endless changes of the dance
  • Bewildered me: the tones
  • Of lute and cithern struggled tow'rds
  • Some sense; and still in the last chords
  • 860 The music seemed to sing wild words.
  • ‘My shame possessed me in the light
  • And pageant, till I swooned.
  • But from that hour I put my shame
  • From me, and cast it over them
  • By God's command and in God's name
  • ‘For my child's bitter sake. O thou
  • Once felt against my heart
  • With longing of the eyes,—a pain
  • Since to my heart for ever,—then
  • 870 Beheld not, and not felt again!’
  • She scarcely paused, continuing:—
  • ‘That year drooped pale weak in March;
  • And April, finding the streams dry,
  • Choked, with no rain, in dust: the sky
  • Shall not be fainter this July.
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  • ‘Men sickened; beasts lay without strength;
  • The year died in the land.
  • But I, already desolate,
  • Said merely, sitting down to wait,—
  • 880 “The seasons change and Time wears late.”
  • ‘For I had my hard secret told,
  • In secret, to a priest;
  • He was much with me With him I communed; and he said
  • The world's soul, for its sins, was sped,
  • And the sun's courses numberèd.
  • ‘The year slid like a corpse afloat:
  • None trafficked,—who had bread
  • Did eat. That year our legions, come
  • Thinned from the place of war, at home
  • 890 Found busier death, more burdensome.
  • ‘Tidings and rumours came with them,
  • The first for months. The chiefs
  • Sat daily at our board, and in
  • Their speech were names of friend and kin:
  • One day they spoke of Urscelyn.
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  • ‘The words were light, among the rest:
  • Quick glance my brothers sent
  • To sift the speech; and I, struck through,
  • Sat sick and giddy in full view:
  • 900 Yet did none gaze, so many knew.
  • ‘Because in the beginning, much
  • Had caught abroad, through them
  • That heard my clamour on the coast:
  • But two were hanged; and then the most
  • Held silence wisdom, as thou know'st.
  • ‘That year the convent yielded thee
  • Back to our home; and thou
  • Then knew'st not how I shuddered cold
  • To kiss thee, seeming to enfold
  • 910 To my changed heart myself of old.
  • ‘Then there was showing thee the house,
  • So many rooms and doors;
  • Thinking the while how thou would'st start
  • If once I flung the doors apart
  • Of one dull chamber in my heart.
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Printer's Direction: Put here
Editorial Description: DGR's note to the printer to move the last line on the page closer to the text of the poem.
  • And yet I longed to open it;
  • And often in that year
  • Of plague and want, when side by side
  • We've knelt to pray with them that died,
  • 920 My prayer was, “Show her what I hide!”’
End of Part I.
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  • 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.
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  • 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:
  • For there my soul this hour has breathed
  • An air inviolate.
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  • 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.
Electronic Archive Edition: 1