Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets (1881), proof Signature H (Delaware Museum, complete first author's proof, copy 2)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1881 April 13
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Chiswick Press, C. Whittingham and Co.
Issue: 1

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

Image of page [97] page: [97]
Sig. H
Manuscript Addition: 1
Editorial Description: Proof number added by printer.
Manuscript Addition: [Charles Whittingham's printer date stamp, 13 Apr. 81]
Image of page [98] page: [98]
Note: blank page
Image of page [99] page: [99]
Editorial Description: Printer's mark beside line 7 indicating inadvertent printed matter.

  • I Catherine am a Douglas born,
  • A name to all Scots dear;
  • And Kate Barlass they've called me now
  • Through many a waning year.
  • This old arm's withered now. 'Twas once
  • Most deft 'mong maidens all
  • To rein the steed, to wing the shaft,
  • To smite the palm-play ball.
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  • In hall adown the close-linked dance
  • 10It has shone most white and fair;
  • It has been the rest for a true lord's head,
  • And many a sweet babe's nursing-bed,
  • And the bar to a King's chambère.
  • Aye, lasses, draw round Kate Barlass,
  • And hark with bated breath
  • How good King James, King Robert's son,
  • Was foully done to death.
  • Through all the days of his gallant youth
  • The princely James was pent,
  • 20By his friends at first and then by his foes,
  • In long imprisonment.
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  • For the elder Prince, the kingdom's heir,
  • By treason's murderous brood
  • Was slain; and the father quaked for the child
  • With the royal mortal blood.
  • I' the Bass Rock fort, by his father's care,
  • Was his childhood's life assured;
  • And Henry the subtle Bolingbroke,
  • Proud England's King, 'neath the southern yoke
  • 30His youth for long years immured.
  • Yet in all things meet for a kingly man
  • Himself did he approve;
  • And the nightingale through his prison-wall
  • Taught him both lore and love.
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  • For once, when the bird's song drew him close
  • To the opened window-pane,
  • In her bowers beneath a lady stood,
  • A light of life to his sorrowful mood,
  • Like a lily amid the rain.
  • 40And for her sake, to the sweet bird's note,
  • He framed a sweeter Song,
  • More sweet than ever a poet's heart
  • Gave yet to the English tongue.
  • She was a lady of royal blood;
  • And when, past sorrow and teen,
  • He stood where still through his crownless years
  • His Scotish realm had been,
  • At Scone were the happy lovers crowned,
  • A heart-wed King and Queen.
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  • 50But the bird may fall from the bough of youth,
  • And song be turned to moan,
  • And Love's storm-cloud be the shadow of Hate,
  • When the tempest-waves of a troubled State
  • Are beating against a throne.
  • Yet well they loved; and the god of Love,
  • Whom well the King had sung,
  • Might find on the earth no truer hearts
  • His lowliest swains among.
  • From the days when first she rode abroad
  • 60With Scotish maids in her train,
  • I Catherine Douglas won the trust
  • Of my mistress sweet Queen Jane.
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Editorial Description: Printer's mark beside line 64 indicating inadvertent printed matter.
  • And oft she sighed, “To be born a King!”
  • And oft along the way
  • When she saw the homely lovers pass
  • She has said, “Alack the day!”
  • Years waned,—the loving and toiling years:
  • Till England's wrong renewed
  • Drove James, by outrage cast on his crown,
  • 70To the open field of feud.
  • 'Twas when the King and his host were met
  • At the leaguer of Roxbro' hold,
  • The Queen o' the sudden sought his camp
  • With a tale of dread to be told.
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  • And she showed him a secret letter writ
  • That spoke of treasonous strife,
  • And how a band of his noblest lords
  • Were sworn to take his life.
  • “And it may be here or it may be there,
  • 80In the camp or the court,” she said:
  • “But for my sake come to your people's arms
  • And guard your royal head.”
  • Quoth he, “'Tis the fifteenth day of the siege,
  • And the castle's nigh to yield.”
  • “O face your foes on your throne,” she cried,
  • “And show the power you wield;
  • And under your Scotish people's love
  • You shall sit as under your shield.”
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  • At the fair Queen's side I stood that day
  • 90When he bade them raise the siege,
  • And back to his Court he sped to know
  • How the lords would meet their Liege.
  • But when he summoned his Parliament,
  • The louring brows hung round,
  • Like clouds that circle the mountain-head
  • Ere the first low thunders sound.
  • For he had tamed the nobles' lust
  • And curbed their power and pride,
  • And reached out an arm to right the poor
  • 100Through Scotland far and wide;
  • And many a lordly wrong-doer
  • By the headsman's axe had died.
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  • 'Twas then upspoke Sir Robert Græme,
  • The bold o'ermastering man:—
  • “O King, in the name of your Three Estates
  • I set you under their ban!
  • “For, as your lords made oath to you
  • Of service and fealty,
  • Even in like wise you pledged your oath
  • 110Their faithful sire to be:—
  • “Yet all we here that are nobly sprung
  • Have mourned dear kith and kin
  • Since first for the Scotish Barons' curse
  • Did your bloody rule begin.”
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  • With that he laid his hands on his King:—
  • “Is this not so, my lords?”
  • But of all who had sworn to league with him
  • Not one spake back to his words.
  • Quoth the King:—“Thou speak'st but for one
  • Estate,
  • 120Nor doth it avow thy gage.
  • Let my liege lords hale this traitor hence!”
  • The Græme fired dark with rage:—
  • “Who works for lesser men than himself,
  • He earns but a witless wage!”
  • But soon from the dungeon where he lay
  • He won by privy plots,
  • And forth he fled with a price on his head
  • To the country of the Wild Scots.
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Printer's Direction: X
Editorial Description: Printer's mark beside line 131 indicating inadvertent printed matter.
  • And word there came from Sir Robert Græme
  • 130To the King at Edinbro':—
  • “No Liege of mine thou art; but I see
  • From this day forth alone in thee
  • God's creature, my mortal foe.
  • “Through thee are my wife and children lost,
  • My heritage and lands;
  • And when my God shall show me a way,
  • Thyself my mortal foe will I slay
  • With these my proper hands.”
  • Against the coming of Christmastide
  • 140That year the King bade call
  • I' the Black Friars' Charterhouse of Perth
  • A solemn festival.
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  • And we of his household rode with him
  • In a close-ranked company;
  • But not till the sun had sunk from his throne
  • Did we reach the Scotish Sea.
  • That eve was clenched for a boding storm,
  • 'Neath a toilsome moon half seen;
  • The cloud stooped low and the surf rose high;
  • 150And where there was a line of the sky,
  • Wild wings loomed dark between.
  • And on a rock of the black beach-side,
  • By the veiled moon dimly lit,
  • There was something seemed to heave with life
  • As the King drew nigh to it.
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  • And was it only the tossing ferns
  • Or brake of the waste sea-wold?
  • Or was it an eagle bent to the blast?
  • When near we came, we knew it at last
  • 160For a woman tattered and old.
  • But it seemed as though by a fire within
  • Her writhen limbs were wrung;
  • And as soon as the King was close to her,
  • She stood up gaunt and strong.
  • 'Twas then the moon sailed clear of the rack
  • On high in her hollow dome;
  • And still as aloft with hoary crest
  • Each clamorous wave rang home,
  • Like fire in snow the moonlight blazed
  • 170Amid the champing foam.
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  • And the woman held his eyes with her eyes:—
  • “O King, thou art come at last;
  • But thy wraith has haunted the Scotish Sea
  • To my sight for four years past.
  • “Four years it is since first I met,
  • 'Twixt the Duchray and the Dhu,
  • A shape whose feet clung close in a shroud,
  • And that shape for thine I knew.
  • “A year again, and on Inchkeith Isle
  • 180I saw thee pass in the breeze,
  • With the cerecloth risen above thy feet
  • And wound about thy knees.
Electronic Archive Edition: 1