Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription
Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets (1881), proof Signature B (Delaware Museum, second
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1881 April 14
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Chiswick Press, C. Whittingham and Co.
full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.
Manuscript Addition: 4
Editorial Description: Printer's proof-sequence number in upper left corner.
Manuscript Addition: [Charles Whittingham and Chiswick Press Printer's Stamp, dated 14 Apr.
Editorial Description: Stamped at upper left.
Manuscript Addition: X
Editorial Description: Printer's mark in upper right corner.
Of her two fights with the Beryl-stone:
Lost the first, but the second won.
- “MARY mine that art Mary's
- Come in to me from the garden-close.
- The sun sinks fast with the rising dew,
- And we marked not how the faint moon grew;
- But the hidden stars are calling you.
- “Tall Rose Mary, come to my side,
- And read the stars if you'd be a bride.
- In hours whose need was not your own,
- While you were a young maid yet ungrown,
10You've read the stars in the Beryl-stone.
- “Daughter, once more I bid you read;
- But now let it be for your own need:
- Because to-morrow, at break of day,
- To Holy Cross he rides on his way,
- Your knight Sir James of Heronhaye.
- “Ere he wed you, flower of mine,
- For a heavy shrift he seeks the shrine.
- Now hark to my words and do not fear;
- Ill news next I have for your ear;
20But be you strong, and our help is here.
- “On his road, as the rumour's rife,
- An ambush waits to take his life.
- He needs will go, and will go alone;
- Where the peril lurks may not be known;
- But in this glass all things are shown.”
- Pale Rose Mary sank to the floor:—
- “The night will come if the day is
- “Nay, heaven takes counsel, star with star,
- And help shall reach your heart from afar:
30A bride you'll be, as a maid you are.”
- The lady unbound her jewelled zone
- And drew from her robe the Beryl-stone.
- Shaped it was to a shadowy sphere,—
- World of our world, the sun's compeer,
- That bears and buries the toiling year.
- With shuddering light 'twas stirred and strewn
- Like the cloud-nest of the wading moon:
- Freaked it was as the bubble's ball,
- Rainbow-hued through a misty pall,
40Like the middle light of the waterfall.
- Shadows dwelt in its teeming girth
- Of the known and unknown things of earth;
- The cloud above and the wave around,—
- The central fire at the sphere's heart bound,
- Like doomsday prisoned underground.
- A thousand years it lay in the sea
- With a treasure wrecked from Thessaly;
- Deep it lay 'mid the coiled sea-wrack,
- But the ocean-spirits found the track;
50A soul was lost to win it back.
- The lady upheld the wondrous thing:—
- “Ill fare”(she said)
“with a fiend's-fairing:
- But Moslem blood poured forth like wine
- Can hallow Hell, 'neath the Sacred Sign;
- And my lord brought this from Palestine.
- “Spirits who fear the Blessed Rood
- Drove forth the accursed multitude
- That heathen worship housed herein,—
- Never again such home to win,
60Save only by a Christian's sin.
- “All last night at an altar fair
- I burnt strange fires and strove with prayer;
- Till the flame paled to the red sunrise,
- All rites I then did solemnize;
- And the spell lacks nothing but your eyes.”
- Low spake maiden Rose Mary:—
- “O mother mine, if I should not
- “Nay, daughter, cover your face no more,
- But bend love's heart to the hidden lore,
70And you shall see now as heretofore.”
- Paler yet were the pale cheeks grown
- As the grey eyes sought the Beryl-stone:
- Then over her mother's lap leaned she,
- And stretched her thrilled throat passionately,
- And sighed from her soul, and said, “I
- Even as she spoke, they two were 'ware
- Of music-notes that fell through the air;
- A chiming shower of strange device,
- Drop echoing drop, once twice and thrice,
80As rain may fall in Paradise.
- An instant come, in an instant gone,
- No time there was to think thereon.
- The mother held the sphere on her knee:—
- “Lean this way and speak low to me,
- And take no note but of what you see.”
- “I see a man with a besom grey
- That sweeps the flying dust away.”
- “Ay, that comes first in the mystic sphere;
- But now that the way is swept and clear,
90Heed well what next you look on there.”
- “Stretched aloft and adown I see
- Two roads that part in waste-country:
- The glen lies deep and the ridge stands tall;
- What's great below is above seen small,
- And the hill-side is the valley-wall.”
- “Stream-bank, daughter, or moor and moss,
- Both roads will take to Holy Cross.
- The hills are a weary waste to wage;
- But what of the valley-road's presage?
100That way must tend his pilgrimage.”
- “As 'twere the turning leaves of a book,
- The road runs past me as I look;
- Or it is even as though mine eye
- Should watch calm waters filled with sky
- While lights and clouds and wings went by.
- “In every covert seek a spear;
- They'll scarce lie close till he draws near.”
- “The stream has spread to a river now;
- The stiff blue sedge is deep in the slough,
110But the banks are bare of shrub or bough.”
- “Is there any roof that near at hand
- Might shelter yield to a hidden band?”
- “On the further bank I see but one,
- And a herdsman now in the sinking sun
- Unyokes his team at the threshold-stone.”
- “Keep heedful watch by the water's
- Some boat might lurk 'neath the shadowed
- “One slid but now 'twixt the winding
- But a peasant woman bent to the oars
- And only a young child steered its course.
- “Mother, something flashed to my
- Nay, it is but the lapwing's flight.—
- What glints there like a lance that flees?—
- Nay, the flags are stirred in the breeze,
- And the waters bright through the dart-rushes.
- “Ah! vainly I search from side to
- Woe's me! and where do the foemen hide?
- Woe's me! and perchance I pass them by,
- And under the new dawn's blood-red sky
130Even where I gaze the dead shall lie.”
- Said the mother: “For dear love's sake,
- Speak more low, lest the spell should break.”
- Said the daughter: “By love's control,
- My eyes, my words, are strained to the goal;
- But oh! the voice that cries in my soul!”
- “Hush, sweet, hush! be calm and
- “I see two floodgates broken and old:
- The grasses wave o'er the ruined weir,
- But the bridge still leads to the breakwater;
140And—mother, mother, O mother
- The damsel clung to her mother's knee,
- And dared not let the shriek go free;
- Low she crouched by the lady's chair,
- And shrank blindfold in her fallen hair,
- And whispering said, “The spears are
- The lady stooped aghast from her place,
- And cleared the locks from her daughter's face.
- “More's to see, and she swoons, alas!
- Look, look again, 'ere the moment pass!
150One shadow comes but once to the glass.
- “See you there what you saw but
- “I see eight men 'neath the willow-bough.
- All over the weir a wild growth's spread:
- Ah me! it will hide a living head
- As well as the water hides the dead.
- “They lie by the broken water-gate
- As men who have a while to wait.
- The chief's high lance has a blazoned scroll,—
- He seems some lord of tithe and toll
160With seven squires to his bannerole.
- “The little pennon quakes in the air,
- I cannot trace the blazon there:—
- Ah! now I can see the field of blue,
- The spurs and the merlins two and two;—
- It is the Warden of Holycleugh!”
- “God be thanked for the thing we know!
- You have named your good knight's mortal foe.
- Last Shrovetide in the tourney-game
- He sought his life by treasonous shame;
170And this way now doth he seek the same.
- “So, fair lord, such a thing you are!
- But we too watch till the morning star.
- Well, June is kind and the moon is clear:
- Saint Judas send you a merry cheer
- For the night you lie in Warisweir!
- “Now, sweet daughter, but one more sight,
- And you may lie soft and sleep to-night.
- We know in the vale what perils be:
- Now look once more in the glass, and see
180If over the hills the road lies free.”
- Rose Mary pressed to her mother's cheek,
- And almost smiled but did not speak;
- Then turned again to the saving spell,
- With eyes to search and with lips to tell
- The heart of things invisible.
- “Again the shape with the besom grey
- Comes back to sweep the clouds away.
- Again I stand where the roads divide;
- But now all's near on the steep hillside,
190And a thread far down is the rivertide.”
- “Ay, child, your road is o'er moor and moss,
- Past Holycleugh to Holy Cross;
- Our hunters lurk in the valley's wake,
- As they knew which way the chase would take:
- Yet search the hills for your true love's
- “Swift and swifter the waste runs by,
- And nought I see but the heath and the sky;
- No brake is there that could hide a spear,
- And the gaps to a horseman's sight lie clear;
200Still past it goes, and there's nought to
- “Fear no trap that you cannot see,—
- They'd not lurk yet too warily.
- Below by the weir they lie in sight,
- And take no heed how they pass the night
- Till close they crouch with the morning
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