Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets (1881), proof Signature E (Delaware Museum, first author's proof)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1881 April 6
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Chiswick Press, C. Whittingham and Co.
Issue: 1

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

Manuscript Addition: 1
Editorial Description: Printer's proof-sequence number in upper left corner.
Manuscript Addition: [Charles Whittingham and Chiswick Press Printer's Stamp, dated 6 Apr. 81]
Editorial Description: Stamped at upper left.
Editorial Description: In line 22, the words “has long” are marked for transposition
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Sig. E
  • Her senses gasped in the sudden air,
  • And she looked around, but none was there.
  • She felt the slackening frost distil
  • Through her blood the last ooze dull and chill:
  • Her lids were dry and her lips were still.
  • Her tears had flooded her heart again;
  • As after a long day's bitter rain,
  • At dusk when the wet flower-cups shrink,
  • The drops run in from the beaded brink,
  • 20And all the close-shut petals drink.
  • Again her sighs on her heart were rolled;
  • As the wind that has long swept the wold,—
  • Whose moan was made with the moaning sea,—
  • Beats out its breath in the last torn tree,
  • And sinks at length in lethargy.
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  • She knew she had waded bosom-deep
  • Along death's bank in the sedge of sleep:
  • All else was lost to her clouded mind;
  • Nor, looking back, could she see defin e 'd
  • 30O'er the dim dumb waste what lay behind.
  • Slowly fades the sun from the wall
  • Till day lies dead on the sun-dial:
  • And now in Rose Mary's lifted eye
  • 'Twas shadow alone that made reply
  • To the set face of the soul's dark sky.
  • Yet still through her soul there wandered past
  • Dread phantoms borne on a wailing blast,—
  • Death and sorrow and sin and shame;
  • And, murmured still, to her lips there came
  • 40Her mother's and her lover's name.
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  • How to ask, and what thing to know?
  • She might not stay and she dared not go.
  • From fires unseen these smoke-clouds curled;
  • But where did the hidden curse lie furled?
  • And how to seek through the weary world?
  • With toiling breath she rose from the floor
  • And dragged her steps to an open door:
  • 'Twas the secret panel standing wide,
  • As the lady's hand had let it bide
  • 50In hastening back to her daughter's side.
  • She passed, but reeled with a dizzy brain
  • And smote the door which closed again.
  • She stood within by the darkling stair,
  • But her feet might mount more freely there,—
  • 'Twas the open light most blinded her.
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  • Within her mind no wonder grew
  • At the secret path she never knew:
  • All ways alike were strange to her now,—
  • One field bare-ridged from the spirit's plough,
  • 60One thicket black with the cypress-bough.
  • Once she thought that she heard her name;
  • And she paused, but knew not whence it came.
  • Down the shadowed stair a faint ray fell
  • That guided the weary footsteps well
  • Till it led her up to the altar-cell.
  • No change there was on Rose Mary's face
  • As she leaned in the portal's narrow space:
  • Still she stood by the pillar's stem,
  • Hand and bosom and garment's hem,
  • 70As the soul stands by at the requiem.
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  • The altar-cell was a dome low-lit,
  • And a veil hung in the midst of it:
  • At the pole-points of its circling girth
  • Four symbols stood of the world's first birth,—
  • Air and water and fire and earth.
  • To the north, a fountain glittered free;
  • To the south, there glowed a red fruit-tree;
  • To the east, a lamp flamed high and fair;
  • To the west, a crystal casket rare
  • 80Held fast a cloud of the fields of air.
  • The painted walls were a mystic show
  • Of time's ebb-tide and overflow;
  • His hoards long-locked and conquering key,
  • His service-fires that in heaven be,
  • And earth-wheels whirled perpetually.
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Editorial Description: DGR marks for deletion of inadvertent inking at line 92.
  • Rose Mary gazed from the open door
  • As on idle things she cared not for,—
  • The fleeting shapes of an empty tale;
  • Then stepped with a heedless visage pale,
  • 90And lifted aside the altar-veil.
  • The altar stood from its curved recess
  • In a coiling serpent's life-likeness:
  • Even such a serpent evermore
  • Lies deep asleep at the world's dark core
  • Till the last Voice shake the sea and shore.
  • From the altar-cloth a book rose spread
  • And tapers burned at the altar-head;
  • And there in the altar-midst alone,
  • 'Twixt wings of a sculptured beast unknown,
  • 100Rose Mary saw the Beryl-stone.
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  • Firm it sat 'twixt the hollowed wings,
  • As an orb sits in the hand of kings:
  • And lo! for that Foe whose curse far-flown
  • Had bound her life with a burning zone,
  • Rose Mary knew the Beryl-stone.
  • Dread is the meteor's blazing sphere
  • When the poles throb to its blind career;
  • But not with a light more grim and ghast
  • Thereby is the future doom forecast,
  • 110Than now this sight brought back the past.
  • The hours and minutes seemed to whirr
  • In a clanging swarm that deafened her;
  • They stung her heart to a writhing flame,
  • And marshalled past in its glare they came,—
  • Death and sorrow and sin and shame.
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Editorial Description: DGR marks for deletion of inadvertent inking at line 116 and for misalignment at stanza 24.
  • Round the Beryl's sphere she saw them pass
  • And mock her eyes from the fated glass:
  • One by one in a fiery train
  • The dead hours seemed to wax and wane,
  • 120And burned till all was known again.
  • From the drained heart's fount there rose no cry,
  • There sprang no tears, for the source was dry.
  • Held in the hand of some heavy law,
  • Her eyes she might not once withdraw
  • Nor shrink away from the thing she saw.
  • Even as she gazed, through all her blood
  • The flame was quenched in a coming flood:
  • Out of the depth of the hollow gloom,
  • On her soul's bare sands she felt it boom,—
  • 130The measured tide of a sea of doom.
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Editorial Description: DGR marks for correction of inverted letter in line 143.
  • Three steps she took through the altar-gate,
  • And her neck reared and her arms grew straight:
  • The sinews clenched like a serpent's throe,
  • And the face was white in the dark hair's flow,
  • As her hate beheld what lay below.
  • Dumb she stood in her malisons,—
  • A silver statue tressed with bronze:
  • As the fabled head by Perseus mown,
  • It seemed in sooth that her gaze alone
  • 140Had turned the carven shapes to stone.
  • O'er the altar-sides on either hand
  • There hung a dinted helm and brand:
  • By strength thereof, 'neath the Sacred Sign,
  • That bitter gift o'er the salt sea-brine
  • Her father brought from Palestine.
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  • Rose Mary moved with a stern accord
  • And reached her hand to her father's sword;
  • Nor did she stir her gaze one whit
  • From the thing whereon her brows were knit;
  • 150But gazing still, she spoke to it.
  • “O ye, three times accurst,” she said,
  • “By whom this stone is tenanted!
  • Lo! here ye came by a strong sin's might;
  • Yet a sinner's hand that's weak to smite
  • Shall send ye you hence ere the day be night.
  • “This hour a clear voice bade me know
  • My hand shall work your overthrow:
  • Another thing in mine ear it spake,—
  • With the broken spell my life shall break.
  • 160I thank t Thee, God, for the dear death's sake!
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  • “And he t Thy heavenly minister
  • Who swayed erewhile this spell-bound sphere,—
  • My parting soul let him haste to greet,
  • And none but he be guide for my feet
  • To where t Thy rest is made complete.”
  • Then deep she breathed, with a tender moan:—
  • “My love, my lord, my only one!
  • Even as I held the cursed clue,
  • When thee, through me, these foul ones slew,—
  • 170By mine own deed shall they slay me too!
  • “Even while they speed to Hell, my love,
  • Two hearts shall meet in Heaven above.
  • Our shrift thou sought'st, but might'st not bring:
  • And oh! for me 'tis a blessed thing
  • To work hereby our ransoming.
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  • “One were our hearts in joy and pain,
  • And our souls e'en now grow one again.
  • And O my love, if our souls are three,
  • O thine and mine shall the third soul be,—
  • 180One threefold love eternally.”
  • Her eyes were soft as she spoke apart,
  • And the lips smiled to the broken heart:
  • But the glance was dark and the forehead scored
  • With the bitter frown of hate restored,
  • As her two hands swung the heavy sword.
  • Three steps back from her f Foe she trod:—
  • “Love, for thy sake! In Thy Name, O God!”
  • In the fair white hands small strength was shown;
  • Yet the blade flashed high and the edge fell prone,
  • 190And she cleft the heart of the Beryl-stone.
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  • What living flesh in the thunder-cloud
  • Hath sat and felt heaven cry aloud?
  • Or known how the levin's pulse may beat?
  • Or wrapped the hour when the whirlwinds meet
  • About its breast for a winding-sheet?
  • Who hath crouched at the world's deep heart
  • While the earthquake rends its loins apart?
  • Or walked far under the seething main
  • While overhead the heavens ordain
  • 200The tempest-towers of the hurricane?
  • Who hath seen or what ear hath heard
  • The secret things unregister'd
  • Of the place where all is past and done
  • And tears and laughter sound as one
  • In Hell's unhallowed unison?
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  • Nay, is it writ how the fiends despair
  • In earth and water and fire and air?
  • Even so no mortal tongue may tell
  • How to the clang of the sword that fell
  • 210The echoes shook the altar-cell.
  • When all was still on the air again
  • The Beryl-stone lay cleft in twain;
  • The veil was rent from the riven dome;
  • And every wind that's winged to roam
  • Might have the ruined place for home.
  • The fountain no more glittered free;
  • The fruit hung dead on the leafless tree;
  • The flame of the lamp had ceased to flare;
  • And the crystal casket shattered there
  • 220Was emptied now of its cloud of air.
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  • And lo! on the ground Rose Mary lay,
  • With a cold brow like the snows ere May,
  • With a cold breast like the earth till Spring,
  • With such a smile as the June days bring
  • When the year grows warm for harvesting.
  • The death she had won might leave no trace
  • On the soft sweet form and gentle face:
  • In a gracious sleep she seemed to lie;
  • And over her head her hand on high
  • 230Held fast the sword she triumphed by.
  • 'Twas then a clear voice said in the room:—
  • “Behold the end of the heavy doom.
  • O come,—for thy bitter love's sake blest;
  • By a sweet path now thou journeyest,
  • And I will lead thee to thy rest.
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  • “Me thy sin by Heaven's sore ban
  • Did chase erewhile from the talisman:
  • But to my heart, as a conquered home,
  • In glory of strength thy footsteps come
  • 240Who hast thus cast forth my foes therefrom.
  • “Already thy heart remembereth
  • No more his name thou sought'st in death:
  • For under all deeps, all heights above,—
  • So wide the gulf in the midst thereof,—
  • Are Hell of Treason and Heaven of Love.
  • “Thee, true soul, shall thy truth prefer
  • To blessed Mary's rose-bower:
  • Warmed and lit is thy place afar
  • With guerdon-fires of the sweet Love-star ,
  • 250Where hearts of steadfast lovers are:—
Electronic Archive Edition: 1