Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets (1881), proof Signature M (Delaware Museum, first author's proof, copy 1)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1881 April 25
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Chiswick Press, C. Whittingham and Co.
Issue: 1

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

Image of page [161] page: [161]
Sig. M
Note: The signature letter is added here in manuscript.
Manuscript Addition: 1
Editorial Description: Printer's proof number added in upper left.
Manuscript Addition: [Charles Whittingham's printer date stamp, 25 Apr.81]
  • A Sonnet is a moment's monument,—
  • Memorial from the Soul's eternity
  • To one dead deathless hour. Look that it be,
  • Whether for lustral rite or dire portent,
  • Of its own arduous fulness reverent:
  • Carve it in ivory or in ebony,
  • As Day or Night may rule; and let Time see
  • Its flowering crest impearled and orient.
  • A Sonnet is a coin: its face reveals
  • 10 The soul,—its converse, to what Power 'tis due:
  • Whether for tribute to the august appeals
  • Of Life, or dower in Love's high retinue,
  • It serve; or,'mid the dark wharf's cavernous breath,
  • In Charon's palm it pay the toll to Death.
Image of page [162] page: [162]
Note: blank page
Image of page [163] page: [163]
Printer's Direction: Each sonnet must occupy one / page only, even if the lines / are closer together.
Editorial Description: DGR's note to the printer.

  • I marked all kindred Powers the heart finds fair:—
  • Truth, with awed lips; and Hope, with eyes up-
  • cast;
  • And Fame, whose loud wings fan the ashen Past
  • To signal-fires, Oblivion's flight to scare;
  • And Youth, with still some single golden hair
  • Unto his shoulder clinging, since the last
  • Embrace wherein two sweet arms held him fast;
  • And Life, still wreathing flowers for Death to wear.
Image of page 164 page: 164
Printer's Direction: LOVE ENTHRONED The House of Life / all along the top / lines
Editorial Description: DGR's note to the printer for printing the running heads.
  • Love's throne was not with these; but far above
  • 10 All passionate wind of welcome and farewell
  • He sat in breathless bowers they dream not of;
  • Though Truth foreknow Love's heart, and Hope
  • foretell,
  • And Fame be for Love's sake desirable,
  • And Youth be dear, and Life be sweet to Love.
Image of page 165 page: 165
Printer's Direction: BRIDAL BIRTH
Editorial Description: DGR cancels the running head to indicate the printing design to be followed (see DGR's note to the running head on page 164).

  • As when desire, long darkling, dawns, and first
  • The mother looks upon the newborn child,
  • Even so my Lady stood at gaze and smiled
  • When her soul knew at length the Love it nurs e 'd.
  • Born with her life, creature of poignant thirst
  • And exquisite hunger, at her heart Love lay
  • Quickening in darkness, till a voice that day
  • Cried on him, and the bonds of birth were burst.
  • Now, shadowed by his wings, our faces yearn
  • 10 Together, as his fullgrown feet now range
  • Image of page 166 page: 166
    Printer's Direction: BRIDAL BIRTH
    Editorial Description: DGR cancels the running header, as above.
  • The grove, and his warm hands our couch pre-
  • pare:
  • Till to his song our bodiless souls in turn
  • Be born his children, when Death's nuptial change
  • Leaves us for light the halo of his hair.
Image of page 167 page: 167
Printer's Direction: LOVE'S TESTAMENT
Editorial Description: DGR cancels the running header

  • O thou who at Love's hour ecstatically
  • Unto my heart dost evermore present,
  • Clothed with his fire, thy heart his testament;
  • Whom I have neared and felt thy breath to be
  • The inmost incense of his S sanctuary;
  • Who without speech hast owned him, and, intent
  • Upon his will, thy life with mine hast blent,
  • And murmured, “I am thine, thou'rt one with me!”
  • O what from thee the grace, to me the prize,
  • 10 And what to Love the glory,—when the whole
  • Image of page 168 page: 168
  • Of the deep stair thou tread'st to the dim shoal
  • And weary water of the place of sighs,
  • And there dost work deliverance, as thine eyes
  • Draw up my prisoned spirit to thy soul!
Image of page 169 page: 169

  • When do I see thee most, beloved one?
  • When in the light the spirits of mine eyes
  • Before thy face, their altar, solemnize
  • The worship of that Love through thee made known?
  • Or when in the dusk hours, (we two alone,)
  • Close-kissed and eloquent of still replies
  • Thy twilight-hidden glimmering visage lies,
  • And my soul only sees thy soul its own?
  • O love, my love! if I no more should see
  • 10Thyself, nor on the earth the shadow of thee,
  • Image of page 170 page: 170
    Note: Running header corrected from “LOVELIGHT” to “LOVESIGHT”.
  • Nor image of thine eyes in any spring,—
  • How then should sound upon Life's darkening slope
  • The ground-whirl of the perished leaves of Hope,
  • The wind of Death's imperishable wing?
Image of page 171 page: 171
Note: DGR corrects the running header

  • By what word's power, the key of paths untrod,
  • Shall I the difficult deeps of Love explore,
  • Till parted waves of Song yield up the shore
  • Even as that sea which Israel crossed dryshod?
  • For lo! in some poor rhythmic period,
  • Lady, I fain would tell how evermore
  • Thy soul I know not from thy body, nor
  • Thee from myself, neither our love from God.
  • Yea, in God's name, and Love's, and thine, would I
  • 10 Draw from one loving heart such evidence
  • Image of page 172 page: 172
  • As to all hearts all things shall signify;
  • Tender as dawn's first hill-fire, and intense
  • As instantaneous penetrating sense,
  • In s Spring's birth-hour, of other Springs gone by.
Image of page 173 page: 173
Manuscript Addition: X
Editorial Description: Printer's mark beside line 4 indicating broken type.

  • What smouldering senses in death's sick delay
  • Or seizure of malign vicissitude
  • Can rob this body of honour, or denude
  • This soul of wedding-raiment worn to-day?
  • For lo! even now my lady's lips did play
  • With these my lips such consonant interlude
  • As laurelled Orpheus longed for when he wooed
  • The half-drawn hungering face with that last lay.
  • I was a child beneath her touch,—a man
  • 10 When breast to breast we clung, even I and she,—
  • Image of page 174 page: 174
  • A spirit when her spirit looked through me,—
  • A god when all our life-breath met to fan
  • Our life-blood, till love's emulous ardours ran,
  • Fire within fire, desire in deity.
Image of page 175 page: 175

  • To all the spirits of Love that wander by
  • Along his love-sown harvest-field of sleep
  • My lady lies apparent; and the deep
  • Calls to the deep; and no man sees but I.
  • The bliss so long afar, at length so nigh,
  • Rests there attained. Methinks proud Love must
  • weep
  • When Fate's control doth from his harvest reap
  • The sacred hour for which the years did sigh.
  • First touched, the hand now warm around my neck
  • 10 Taught memory long to mock desire: and lo!
  • Image of page 176 page: 176
  • Across my breast the abandoned hair doth flow,
  • Where one shorn tress long stirred the longing ache:
  • And next the heart that trembled for its sake
  • Lies the queen-heart in sovereign overthrow.
Electronic Archive Edition: 1