Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription
Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets (1881), proof Signature F (Delaware Museum, last revise
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1881 April 22
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Chiswick Press, C. Whittingham and Co.
full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.
In one day's strife,
Her hope fell dead from her life;
And yet no iron,
Her soul to environ,
Could this manslayer, this false soothsayer imperil!
Lo, where she bows
In the Holy House!
Who now shall dissever her soul from its joy for ever,
While every ditty
Of love and plentiful pity
Fills the White City,
And the floor of Heaven to her feet for ever is
Hark, a voice cries “Flee!”
Woe! woe! what shelter have We,
Whose pangs begin
With God's grace to sin,
For whose spent powers the immortal hours are
Gyre-circling spirits of fire,
We, cast forth from the Beryl?
- BY none but me can the tale be told,
- The butcher of Rouen, poor Berold.
Lands are swayed by a King on a throne.)
- 'Twas a royal train put forth to sea,
- Yet the tale can be told by none but me.
The sea hath no King but God alone.)
- King Henry held it as life's whole gain
- That after his death his son should reign.
- `Twas so in my youth I heard men say,
10And my old age calls it back to-day.
- King Henry of England's realm was he,
- And Henry Duke of Normandy.
- The times had changed when on either coast
- “Clerkly Harry” was all his boast.
- Of ruthless strokes full many an one
- He had struck to crown himself and his son;
- And his elder brother's eyes were gone.
- And when to the chase his court would crowd,
- The poor flung ploughshares on his road,
20And shrieked: “Our cry is from King to God!”
- But all the chiefs of the English land
- Had knelt and kissed the Prince's hand.
- And next with his son he sailed to France
- To claim the Norman allegiance:
- And every baron in Normandy
- Had taken the oath of fealty.
- 'Twas sworn and sealed, and the day had come
- When the King and the Prince might journey home:
- For Christmas cheer is to home hearts dear,
30And Christmas now was drawing near.
- Stout Fitz-Stephen came to the King,—
- A pilot famous in seafaring;
- And he held to the King, in all men's sight,
- A mark of gold for his tribute's right.
- “Liege Lord! my father guided the ship
- From whose boat your father's foot did slip
- When he caught the English soil in his grip,
- “And cried: ‘By this clasp I claim command
- O'er every rood of English land!’
40“He was borne to the realm you rule o'er now
- In that ship with the archer carved at her prow:
- “And thither I'll bear, an' it be my due,
- Your father's son and his grandson too.
- “The famed White Ship is mine in the bay;
- From Harfleur's harbour she sails to-day,
- “With masts fair-pennoned as Norman spears
- And with fifty well-tried mariners.”
- Quoth the King: “My ships are chosen each one,
- But I'll not say nay to Stephen's son.
50“My son and daughter and fellowship
- Shall cross the water in the White Ship.”
- The King set sail with the eve's south wind,
- And soon he left that coast behind.
- The Prince and all his, a princely show,
- Remained in the good White Ship to go.
- With noble knights and with ladies fair,
- With courtiers and sailors gathered there,
- Three hundred living souls we were:
- And I Berold was the meanest hind
60In all that train to the Prince assign'd.
- The Prince was a lawless shameless youth;
- From his father's loins he sprang without ruth:
- Eighteen years till then he had seen,
- And the devil's dues in him were eighteen.
- And now he cried: “Bring wine from below;
- Let the sailors revel ere yet they row:
- “Our speed shall o'ertake my father's flight
- Though we sail from the harbour at midnight.”
- The rowers made good cheer without check;
70The lords and ladies obeyed his beck;
- The night was light, and they danced on the deck.
- But at midnight's stroke they cleared the bay,
- And the White Ship furrowed the water-way.
- The sails were set, and the oars kept tune
- To the double flight of the ship and the moon:
- Swifter and swifter the White Ship sped
- Till she flew as the spirit flies from the dead:
- As white as a lily glimmered she
- Like a ship's fair ghost upon the sea.
80And the Prince cried, “Friends, 'tis the
- Is a songbird's course so swift on the wing?”
- And under the winter stars' still throng,
- From brown throats, white throats, merry and
- The knights and the ladies raised a song.
- A song,—nay, a shriek that rent the sky,
- That leaped o'er the deep!—the grievous cry
- Of three hundred living that now must die.
Electronic Archive Edition: 1