Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription
Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets (1881), proof Signature L (Delaware Museum, revise
proofs, miscellaneous pages)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1881 April -1881 May
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.
670From the rout then stepped a villain forth,—
- Sir John Hall was his name;
- With a knife unsheathed he leapt to the vault
- Beneath the torchlight-flame.
- Of his person and stature was the King
- A man right manly strong,
- And mightily by the shoulder-blades
- His foe to his feet he flung.
- Then the traitor's brother, Sir Thomas Hall,
- Sprang down to work his worst;
680And the King caught the second man by the neck
- And flung him above the first.
- And he smote and trampled them under him;
- And a long month thence they bare
- All black their throats with the grip of his hands
- When the hangman's hand came there.
- And sore he strove to have had their knives,
- But the sharp blades gashed his hands.
- Oh James! so armed, thou hadst battled there
- Till help had come of thy bands;
690And oh! once more thou hadst held our throne
- And ruled thy Scotish lands!
- But while the King o'er his foes still raged
- With a heart that nought could tame,
- Another man sprang down to the crypt;
- And with his sword in his hand hard-gripp'd,
- There stood Sir Robert Græme.
- But when I told her the bitter end
- Of the stern and just award,
- She leaned o'er the bier, and thrice three times
- She kissed the lips of her lord.
- And then she said,—“My King, they are dead!”
- And she knelt on the chapel-floor,
- And whispered low with a strange proud smile,—
- “James, James, they suffered more!”
810Last she stood up to her queenly height,
- But she shook like an autumn leaf,
- As though the fire wherein she burned
- Then left her body, and all were turned
- To winter of life-long grief.
- And “O James!” she
said,—“My James!” she
- “Alas for the woful thing,
- That a poet true and a friend of man,
- In desperate days of bale and ban,
- Should needs be born a King!”
Manuscript Addition: The sonnets not appearing / in the old Vol. I have / marked with
Editorial Description: DGR's note to the printer
Transcribed Note (page ):
(The present full series of
The House of Life consists of
sonnets only. It will be evident that many among
now first added are still the work of earlier years.)
Electronic Archive Edition: 1