Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Poems. A New Edition (1881), proof Signature R (Delaware Museum, first proof (uncorrected duplicate))
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 241 page: 241
Sig. R
  • Have you seen, at heaven's mid-height,
  • In the moon-rack'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.
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  • 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,
  • 10 Some veil did fall,—I knew it all of yore.
  • Has this been thus before?
  • And shall not thus time's eddying flight
  • Still with our lives our love restore
  • In death's despite,
  • And day and night yield one delight once more?
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  • 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.
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  • A little while a little love
  • May yet be ours who have not said
  • The word it makes our eyes afraid
  • 20 To 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.
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  • 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?
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  • 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?
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  • 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,
  • At night, 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
  • 10 Burnt 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.
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  • 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
  • 20 My 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
  • 30 And wind are one with memory.
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  • Along the grass sweet airs are blown
  • Our way this day in Spring.
  • Of all the songs that we have known
  • Now which one shall we sing?
  • Not that, my love, ah no!—
  • Not this, my love? why, so!—
  • Yet both were ours, but hours will come and go.
  • The grove is all a pale frail mist,
  • The new year sucks the sun.
  • 10 Of all the kisses that we kissed
  • Now which shall be the one?
  • Not that, my love, ah no!—
  • Not this, my love?—heigh-ho
  • For all the sweets that all the winds can blow!
  • The branches cross above our eyes,
  • The skies are in a net:
  • And what's the thing beneath the skies
  • We two would most forget?
  • Not birth, my love, no, no,—
  • 20 Not death, my love, no, no,—
  • The love once ours, but ours long hours ago.
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  • So it is, my dear.
  • All such things touch secret strings
  • For heavy hearts to hear.
  • So it is, my dear.
  • Very like indeed:
  • Sea and sky, afar, on high,
  • Sand and strewn seaweed,—
  • Very like indeed.
  • But the sea stands spread
  • 10 As one wall with the flat skies,
  • Where the lean black craft like flies
  • Seem well-nigh stagnated,
  • Soon to drop off dead.
  • Seemed it so to us
  • When I was thine and thou wast mine,
  • And all these things were thus,
  • But all our world in us?
  • Could we be so now?
  • Not if all beneath heaven's pall
  • 20 Lay dead but I and thou,
  • Could we be so now!
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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
  • 10 Of 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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;
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  • 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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Electronic Archive Edition: 1