Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription
Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets (1881), proof Signature N (Delaware Museum, third revise,
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1881 May 4
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Chiswick Press, C. Whittingham and Co.
full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.
Manuscript Addition: 3c
Editorial Description: Printer's proof number added in upper left.
Editorial Description: DGR's note in upper right corner
Manuscript Addition: [Charles Whittingham's printer date stamp, 4 May 81]
- Have you not noted, in some family
- Where two were born of a first marriage-bed,
- How still they own their gracious bond, though fed
- And nursed on the forgotten breast and knee?—
- How to their father's children they shall be
- In act and thought of one goodwill; but each
- Shall for the other have, in silence speech,
- And in a word complete community?
- Even so, when first I saw you, seemed it, love,
10 That among souls allied to mine was yet
- One nearer kindred than life hinted of.
- O born with me somewhere that men forget,
- And though in years of sight and sound unmet,
- Known for my soul's birth-partner well enough!
- Those envied places which do know her well,
- And are so scornful of this lonely place,
- Even now for once are emptied of her grace:
- Nowhere but here she is: and while Love's spell
- From his predominant presence doth compel
- All alien hours, an outworn populace,
- The hours of Love fill full the echoing space
- With sweet confederate music favourable.
- Now many memories make solicitous
10 The delicate love-lines of her mouth, till, lit
- With quivering fire, the words take wing from it;
- As here between our kisses we sit thus
- Speaking of things remembered, and so sit
- Speechless while things forgotten call to us.
- What dawn-pulse at the heart of heaven, or last
- Incarnate flower of culminating day,—
- What marshalled marvels on the skirts of May,
- Or song full-quired, sweet June's encomiast;
- What glory of change by nature's hand amass'd
- Can vie with all those moods of varying grace
- Which o'er one loveliest woman's form and face
- Within this hour, within this room, have pass'd?
- Love's very vesture and elect disguise
10 Was each fine movement,—wonder new-begot
- Of lily or swan or swan-stemmed galiot;
- Joy to his sight who now the sadlier sighs,
- Parted again; and sorrow yet for eyes
- Unborn, that read these words and saw her not.
- Beauty like hers is genius. Not the call
- Of Homer's or of Dante's heart sublime,—
- Not Michael's hand furrowing the zones of time,—
- Is more with compassed mysteries musical;
- Nay, not in Spring's or Summer's sweet footfall
- More gathered gifts exuberant Life bequeathes
- Than doth this sovereign face, whose
- Even from its shadowed contour on the wall.
- As many men are poets in their youth,
10 But for one sweet-strung soul the wires prolong
- Even through all change the indomitable song;
- So in likewise the envenomed years, whose tooth
- Rends shallower grace with ruin void of ruth,
- Upon this beauty's power shall wreak no wrong
- Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass,—
- The finger-points look through like rosy blooms:
- Your eyes smile peace. The pasture gleams
- 'Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass.
- All round our nest, far as the eye can pass,
- Are golden kingcup-fields with silver edge
- Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn-hedge.
- 'Tis visible silence, still as the hour-glass.
- Deep in the sun-searched growths the dragon-fly
10Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky:—
- So this wing'd hour is dropt to us from above,
- Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless dower,
- This close-companioned inarticulate hour
- When twofold silence was the song of love.
- Even as the moon grows queenlier in mid-space
- When the sky darkens, and her cloud-rapt car
- Thrills with intenser radiance from afar,—
- So lambent, lady, beams thy sovereign grace
- When the drear soul desires thee. Of that face
- What shall be said,—which, like a
- Gathers and garners from all things that are
- Their silent penetrative loveliness?
- O'er water-daisies and wild waifs of Spring,
10 There where the iris rears its gold-crowned sheaf
- With flowering rush and sceptred arrow-leaf,
- So have I marked Queen Dian, in bright ring
- Of cloud above and wave below, take wing
- And chase night's gloom, as thou the spirit's grief.
- Not I myself know all my love for thee:
- How should I reach so far, who cannot weigh
- To-morrow's dower by gage of yesterday?
- Shall birth and death, and all dark names that be
- As doors and windows bared to some loud sea,
- Lash deaf mine ears and blind my face with spray;
- And shall my sense pierce love,—the
- And ultimate outpost of eternity?
- Lo! what am I to Love, the Lord of all?
10 One murmuring shell he gathers from the sand,—
- One little heart-flame sheltered in his hand.
- Yet through thine eyes he grants me clearest call
- And veriest touch of powers primordial
- That any hour-girt life may understand.
Note: DGR adds an alternate title in pencil to the left of the printed title
- Sweet dimness of her loosened hair's downfall
- About thy face; her sweet hands round thy head
- In gracious fostering union garlanded;
- Her tremulous smiles; her glances' sweet recall
- Of love; her murmuring sighs memorial;
- Her mouth's culled sweetness by thy kisses shed
- On cheeks and neck and eyelids, and so led
- Back to her mouth which answers there for all:—
- What sweeter than these things, except the thing
10 In lacking which all these would lose their sweet:—
- The confident heart's still fervour: the swift beat
- And soft subsidence of the spirit's wing,
- Then when it feels, in cloud-girt wayfaring,
- The breath of kindred plumes against its feet?
- I stood where Love in brimming armfuls bore
- Slight wanton flowers and foolish toys of fruit:
- And round him ladies thronged in warm pursuit,
- Fingered and lipped and proffered the strange store.
- And from one hand the petal and the core
- Savoured of sleep; and cluster and curled shoot
- Seemed from another hand like shame's salute,—
- Gifts that I felt my cheek was blushing for.
- At last Love bade my Lady give the same:
10 And as I looked, the dew was light thereon;
- And as I took them, at her touch they shone
- With inmost heaven-hue of the heart of flame.
- And then Love said: “Lo! when the hand
- Follies of love are love's true ministers.”
- Even as a child, of sorrow that we give
- The dead, but little in his heart can find,
- Since without need of thought to his clear mind
- Their turn it is to die and his to live:—
- Even so the winged New Love smiles to receive
- Along his eddying wings the auroral wind,
- Nor, forward glorying, casts one look behind
- Where night-rack shrouds the Old Love fugitive.
- There is a change in every hour's recall,
10 And the last cowslip in the fields we see
- On the same day with the first corn-poppy.
- Alas for hourly change! Alas for all
- The loves that from his hand proud Youth lets fall,
- Even as the beads of a told rosary!
- Each hour until we meet is as a bird
- That wings from far his gradual way along
- The rustling covert of my soul,—his song
- Still loudlier trilled through leaves more deeply
- But at the hour of meeting, a clear word
- Is every note he sings, in Love's own tongue;
- Yet, Love, thou know'st the sweet strain suffers
- Full oft through our contending joys unheard.
- What of that hour at last, when for her sake
10 No wing may fly to me nor song may flow;
- When, wandering round my life unleaved, I know
- The bloodied feathers scattered in the brake,
- And think how she, far from me, with like eyes
- Sees through the untuneful bough the wingless
- Thou lovely and beloved, thou my love;
- Whose kiss seems still the first; whose summon-
- ing eyes,
- Even now, as for our love-world's new sunrise,
- Shed very dawn; whose voice, attuned above
- All modulation of the deep-bowered dove,
- Is like a hand laid softly on the soul;
- Whose hand is like a sweet voice to control
- Those worn tired brows it hath the keeping of:—
- What word can answer to thy word,—what gaze
10 To thine, which now absorbs within its sphere
- My worshipping face, till I am mirrored there
- Light-circled in a heaven of deep-drawn rays?
- What clasp, what kiss mine inmost heart can
- O lovely and beloved, O my love?
- Sometimes thou seem'st not as thyself alone,
- But as the meaning of all things that are;
- A breathless wonder, shadowing forth afar
- Some heavenly solstice hushed and halcyon;
- Whose unstirred lips are music's visible tone;
- Whose eyes the sun-gate of the soul unbar,
- Being of its furthest fires oracular;—
- The evident heart of all life sown and mown.
- Even such Love is; and is not thy name Love?
10 Yea, by thy hand the Love-god rends apart
- All gathering clouds of Night's ambiguous art;
- Flings them far down, and sets thine eyes above;
- And simply, as some gage of flower or glove,
- Stakes with a smile the world against thy heart.
- What other woman could be loved like you,
- Or how of you should love possess his fill?
- After the fulness of all rapture, still,—
- As at the end of some deep avenue
- A tender glamour of day,—there comes to view
- Far in your eyes a yet more hungering thrill,—
- Such fire as Love's soul-winnowing hands distil
- Even from his inmost ark of light and dew.
- And as the traveller triumphs with the sun,
10 Glorying in heat's mid-height, yet startide brings
- Wonder new-born, and still fresh transport springs
- From limpid lambent hours of day begun;—
- Even so, through eyes and voice, your
- My soul with changeful light of infinite love.
- Not by one measure mayst thou mete our love;
- For how should I be loved as I love thee?—
- I, graceless, joyless, lacking absolutely
- All gifts that with thy queenship best behove;—
- Thou, throned in every heart's elect alcove,
- And crowned with garlands culled from every
- Which for no head but thine, by Love's decree,
- All beauties and all mysteries interwove.
- But here thine eyes and lips yield soft rebuke:—
10“Then only,” (say
'st thou) “could I love thee less,
- When thou couldst doubt my love's equality.”
- Peace, sweet! If not to sum but worth we look,—
- Thy heart's transcendence, not my heart's excess,—
- Then more a thousandfold thou lov'st than I.
- Love, through your spirit and mine what summer
- Now glows with glory of all things possess'd,
- Since this day's sun of rapture filled the west
- And the light sweetened as the fire took leave?
- Awhile now softlier let your bosom heave,
- As in Love's harbour, even that loving breast,
- All care takes refuge while we sink to rest,
- And mutual dreams the bygone bliss retrieve.
- Many the days that Winter keeps in store,
10 Sunless throughout, or whose brief sun-glimpses
- Scarce shed the heaped snow through the naked
- This day at least was Summer's paramour,
- Sun-coloured to the imperishable core
- With sweet well-being of love and full heart's
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