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.
Issue: 3

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

Image of page 113 page: 113
Sig. I
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.
Image of page 114 page: 114
  • “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.
Image of page 115 page: 115
  • 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.
Image of page 116 page: 116
  • “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.”
Image of page 117 page: 117
  • 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.
Image of page 118 page: 118
  • 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.
Image of page 119 page: 119
  • 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.
Image of page 120 page: 120
  • 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.
Image of page 123 page: 123
  • “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!
  • 320 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
  • 330 The blood of my body to my heart.

  • Ah sweet, are ye a worldly creature
  • Or heavenly thing in form of nature?”
Image of page 124 page: 124
  • 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,
  • 340 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,
  • Image of page 125 page: 125
  • Of my rancour and woful chance,
  • It were too long,—I have done therefor.
  • 350 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.
Image of page 126 page: 126
  • 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.
  • 370 “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.”
Image of page 127 page: 127
  • And oft has my thought called up again
  • These words of the changeful song:—
  • “Wist thou thy pain and thy travàil
  • 380 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.
Image of page 128 page: 128
  • 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