Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets (1881), proof Signature L (Delaware Museum, incomplete revise ca. 20 April 1881)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1881 April 20 (circa)
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Chiswick Press, C. Whittingham and Co.

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

Sig. L
Image of page 145 page: 145
  • And what I say next I partly saw
  • And partly I heard in sooth,
  • And partly since from the murderers' lips
  • The torture wrung the truth.
  • For now again came the armèd tread,
  • And fast through the hall it fell;
  • But the throng was less; and ere I saw,
  • By the voice without I could tell
  • That Robert Stuart had come with them
  • 650Who knew that chamber well.
  • And over the space the Græme strode dark
  • With his mantle round him flung;
  • And in his eye was a flaming light
  • But not a word on his tongue.
Image of page 146 page: 146
  • And Stuart held a torch to the floor,
  • And he found the thing he sought;
  • And they slashed the plank away with their swords;
  • And O God! I fainted not!
  • And the traitor held his torch in the gap,
  • 660All smoking and smouldering;
  • And through the vapour and fire, beneath
  • In the dark crypt's narrow ring,
  • With a shout that pealed to the room's high roof
  • They saw their naked King.
  • Half naked he stood, but stood as one
  • Who yet could do and dare:
  • With the crown, the King was stript away,—
  • The Knight was reft of his battle-array,—
  • But still the Man was there.
Image of page 151 page: 151
  • But a cry came from the troop above:—
  • “If him thou do not slay,
  • The price of his life that thou dost spare
  • Thy forfeit life shall pay!”
  • O God! what more did I hear or see,
  • Or how should I tell the rest?
  • 730But there at length our King lay slain
  • With sixteen wounds in his breast.
  • O God! and now did a bell boom forth,
  • And the murderers turned and fled;—
  • Too late, too late, O God, did it sound!—
  • And I heard the true men mustering round,
  • And the cries and the coming tread.
Image of page 152 page: 152
  • But ere they came, to the black death-gap
  • Somewise did I creep and steal;
  • And lo! or ever I swooned away,
  • 740Through the dusk I saw where the white face lay
  • In the Pit of Fortune's Wheel.

  • And now, ye Scotish maids who have heard
  • Dread things of the days grown old,—
  • Even at the last, of true Queen Jane
  • May somewhat yet be told,
  • And how she dealt for her dear lord's sake
  • Dire vengeance manifold.
  • 'Twas in the Charterhouse of Perth,
  • In the fair-lit Death-chapelle,
  • 750That the slain King's corpse on bier was laid
  • With chaunt and requiem-knell.
Image of page 153 page: 153
  • And all with royal wealth of balm
  • Was the body purified;
  • And none could trace on the brow and lips
  • The death that he had died.
  • In his robes of state he lay asleep
  • With orb and sceptre in hand;
  • And by the crown he wore on his throne
  • Was his kingly forehead spann'd.
  • 760And, girls, 'twas a sweet sad thing to see
  • How the curling golden hair,
  • As in the day of the poet's youth,
  • From the King's crown clustered there.
Image of page 154 page: 154
  • And if all had come to pass in the brain
  • That throbbed beneath those curls,
  • Then Scots had said in the days to come
  • That this their soil was a different home
  • And a different Scotland, girls!
  • And the Queen sat by him night and day,
  • 770And oft she knelt in prayer,
  • All wan and pale in the widow's veil
  • That shrouded her shining hair.
  • And I had got good help of my hurt:
  • And only to me some sign
  • She made; and save the priests that were there,
  • No face would she see but mine.
Electronic Archive Edition: 1