Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: The Question (for a Design) (corrected copy)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of Composition: 1882 April
Type of Manuscript: corrected copy
Scribe: Hall Caine

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

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The Question

(for a design)
  • This sea, deep furrowed as the face of Time,
  • Mirrors the ghost of the removed moon;
  • The peaks stand bristling round the waste lagune,
  • While up the difficult summit steeply climb
  • Youth, m Manhood, Age, one triple labouring mime;
  • And to the measure of some mystic rune
  • Lo! Hark how the restless waters importune
  • These echoing steeps with chime & counterchime.
  • What seek they? Lo, upreared against the rock
  • 10The Sphinx Time's visible silence, frontleted
  • With p Psyche wings, with eagle plumes arched oer.
  • Ah, when those everlasting lips unlock
  • And the old riddle of the world is read,
  • What shall man find? or seeks he Evermore?
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  • Lo, the three seekers! Youth has sprung the first
  • To question the Unknown: but see! he sinks
  • Prone to the earth,—becomes himself a sphinx,—
  • A riddle of early death no love may burst.
  • Sorely anhungered, heavily athirst
  • For knowledge, Manhood next to reach the Truth
  • Peers in those eyes; till, haggard & uncouth
  • Week Weak Eld renews that question long rehearsed.
  • Oh! and what answer? From the sad sea brim
  • 10The eyes of o' the Sphinx stare through the
  • midnight spell,
  • Unwavering,—man's eternal quest to quell:
  • While round the rock-steps of her throne doth swim
  • Through the wind-serried wave the moon's faint rim,
  • Sole answer from the heaven invisible.
D. G. Rossetti.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Copyright: Courtesy of the Oxford University Press