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
full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.
- 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
Manhood, Age, one triple labouring mime;
- And to the measure of some mystic rune
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
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?
- 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
Weak Eld renews that question long rehearsed.
- Oh! and what answer? From the sad sea brim
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