Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription
Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets (1881), proof Signature I (Delaware Museum, incomplete copy of the second 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.
Manuscript Addition: 3
Editorial Description: Proof number added by printer.
Manuscript Addition: [Charles Whittingham's printer date stamp, 22 Apr. 81]
- “And yet a year, in the Links of Forth,
- As a wanderer without rest,
- Thou cam'st with both thine arms i' the shroud
- That clung high up thy breast.
- “And in this hour I find thee here,
- And well mine eyes may note
- That the winding-sheet hath passed thy breast
190And risen around thy throat.
- “And when I meet thee again, O King,
- That of death hast such sore drouth,—
- Except thou turn again on this shore,—
- The winding-sheet shall have moved once more
- And covered thine eyes and mouth.
- “O King, whom poor men bless for their King,
- Of thy fate be not so fain;
- But these my words for God's message take,
- And turn thy steed, O King, for her sake
200Who rides beside thy rein!”
- While the woman spoke, the King's horse reared
- As if it would breast the sea,
- And the Queen turned pale as she heard on the gale
- The voice die dolorously.
- When the woman ceased, the steed was still,
- But the King gazed on her yet,
- And in silence save for the wail of the sea
- His eyes and her eyes met.
- At last he said:—“God's ways are His own;
210Man is but shadow and dust.
- Last night I prayed by His altar-stone;
- To-night I wend to the Feast of His Son;
- And in Him I set my trust.
- “I have held my people in sacred charge,
- And have not feared the sting
- Of proud men's hate,—to His will resign'd
- Who has but one same death for a hind
- And one same death for a King.
- “And if God in His wisdom have brought close
220The day when I must die,
- That day by water or fire or air
- My feet shall fall in the destined snare
- Wherever my road may lie.
- “What man can say but the Fiend hath set
- Thy sorcery on my path,
- My heart with the fear of death to fill,
- And turn me against God's very will
- To sink in His burning wrath?”
- The woman stood as the train rode past,
230And moved nor limb nor eye;
- And when we were shipped, we saw her there
- Still standing against the sky.
- As the ship made way, the moon once more
- Sank slow in her rising pall;
- And I thought of the shrouded wraith of the King,
- And I said, “The Heavens know all.”
- And now, ye lasses, must ye hear
- How my name is Kate Barlass:—
- But a little thing, when all the tale
240Is told of the weary mass
- Of crime and woe which in Scotland's realm
- God's will let come to pass.
- 'Twas in the Charterhouse of Perth
- That the King and all his Court
- Were met, the Christmas Feast being done,
- For solace and disport.
- 'Twas a wind-wild eve in February,
- And against the casement-pane
- The branches smote like summoning hands
250And muttered the driving rain.
- And when the wind swooped over the lift
- And made the whole heaven frown,
- It seemed a grip was laid on the walls
- To tug the housetop down.
- And the Queen was there, more stately fair
- Than a lily in garden set;
- And the King was loth to stir from her side;
- For as on the day when she was his bride,
- Even so he loved her yet.
260And the Earl of Athole, the King's false friend,
- Sat with him at the board;
- And Robert Stuart the chamberlain
- Who had sold his sovereign Lord.
- Yet the traitor Christopher Chaumber there
- Would fain have told him all,
- And vainly four times that night he strove
- To reach the King through the hall.
- But the wine is bright at the goblet's brim
- Though the poison lurk beneath;
270And the apples still are red on the tree
- Within whose shade may the adder be
- That shall turn thy life to death.
- There was a knight of the King's fast friends
- Whom he called the King of Love;
- And to such bright cheer and courtesy
- That name might best behove.
- And the King and Queen both loved him well
- For his gentle knightliness;
- And with him the King, as that eve wore on,
280Was playing at the chess.
- And the King said, (for he thought to jest
- And soothe the Queen thereby;)—
- “In a book 'tis writ that this same year
- A King shall in Scotland die.
- “And I have pondered the matter o'er,
- And this have I found, Sir Hugh,—
- There are but two Kings on Scotish ground,
- And those Kings are I and you.
“Worship, ye lovers, on this May:
Of bliss your kalends are begun:
Sing with us, Away, Winter, away!
Come, Summer, the sweet season and sun!
Awake for shame,—your heaven is won,—
And amorously your heads lift all:
Thank Love, that you to his grace doth call!”
- But when he bent to the Queen, and sang
- The speech whose praise was hers,
- It seemed his voice was the voice of the Spring
- And the voice of the bygone years.
“The fairest and the freshest flower
That ever I saw before that hour,
The which o' the sudden made to start
The blood of my body to my heart.
Ah sweet, are ye a worldly creature
Or heavenly thing in form of nature?”
- And the song was long, and richly stored
- With wonder and beauteous things;
- And the harp was tuned to every change
- Of minstrel ministerings;
- But when he spoke of the Queen at the last,
- Its strings were his own heart-strings.
“Unworthy but only of her grace,
Upon Love's rock that's easy and sure,
In guerdon of all my lovè's space
She took me her humble creäture.
Thus fell my blissful aventure
In youth of love that from day to day
Flowereth aye new, and further I say.
“To reckon all the circumstance
As it happed when lessen gan my sore,
Of my rancour and woful chance,
It were too long,—I have done therefor.
And of this flower I say no more
But unto my help her heart hath tended
And even from death her man defended.”
- “Aye, even from death,” to myself I said;
- For I thought of the day when she
- Had borne him the news, at Roxbro' siege,
- Of the fell confederacy.
- But Death even then took aim as he sang
- With an arrow deadly bright;
- And the grinning skull lurked grimly aloof,
360And the wings were spread far over the roof
- More dark than the winter night.
- Yet truly along the amorous song
- Of Love's high pomp and state,
- There were words of Fortune's trackless doom
- And the dreadful face of Fate.
- And oft have I heard again in dreams
- The voice of dire appeal
- In which the King then sang of the pit
- That is under Fortune's wheel.
“And under the wheel beheld I there
An ugly Pit as deep as hell,
That to behold I quaked for fear:
And this I heard, that who therein fell
Came no more up, tidings to tell:
Whereat, astound of the fearful sight,
I wist not what to do for fright.”
- And oft has my thought called up again
- These words of the changeful song:—
“Wist thou thy pain and thy travàil
To come, well might'st thou weep and wail!”
- And our wail, O God! is long.
- But the song's end was all of his love;
- And well his heart was grac'd
- With her smiling lips and her tear-bright eyes
- As his arm went round her waist.
- And on the swell of her long fair throat
- Close clung the necklet-chain
- As he bent her pearl-tir'd head aside,
- And in the warmth of his love and pride
390He kissed her lips full fain.
- And her true face was a rosy red,
- The very red of the rose
- That, couched on the happy garden-bed,
- In the summer sunlight glows.
- And all the wondrous things of love
- That sang so sweet through the song
- Were in the look that met in their eyes,
- And the look was deep and long.
- 'Twas then a knock came at the outer gate,
400And the usher sought the King.
- “The woman you met by the Scotish Sea,
- My Liege, would tell you a thing;
- And she says that her present need for speech
- Will bear no gainsaying.”
Electronic Archive Edition: 1