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