Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets (1881), proof Signature F (Delaware Museum, last revise proof, incomplete)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1881 April 22
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Chiswick Press, C. Whittingham and Co.

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

Image of page 67 page: 67
  • 20 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
  • 30 Fills the White City,
  • And the floor of Heaven to her feet for ever is
  • given?
  • Hark, a voice cries “Flee!”
  • Woe! woe! what shelter have We,
  • Whose pangs begin
  • With God's grace to sin,
  • Image of page 68 page: 68
  • For whose spent powers the immortal hours are
  • sterile,
  • Gyre-circling spirits of fire,
  • We, cast forth from the Beryl?
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page: [70]
Note: blank page
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  • 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.
Image of page 72 page: 72
  • `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!”
Image of page 73 page: 73
  • 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;
Image of page 74 page: 74
  • 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.
Image of page 75 page: 75
  • “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.
Image of page 76 page: 76
  • 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:
Image of page 77 page: 77
  • “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:
Image of page 78 page: 78
  • As white as a lily glimmered she
  • Like a ship's fair ghost upon the sea.
  • 80And the Prince cried, “Friends, 'tis the hour to
  • sing!
  • Is a songbird's course so swift on the wing?”
  • And under the winter stars' still throng,
  • From brown throats, white throats, merry and
  • strong,
  • 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