Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets (1881), proof Signature N (Delaware Museum, fourth revise, copy 1)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1881 May 6
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Chiswick Press, C. Whittingham and Co.
Issue: 5

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

Image of page 177 page: 177
Sig. N
Manuscript Addition: 4a
Editorial Description: Printer's proof number added in upper left.
Manuscript Addition: [Charles Whittingham's printer date stamp, 6 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!
Image of page 178 page: 178

  • 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.
Image of page 179 page: 179

  • 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.
Image of page 180 page: 180

  • 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 love-spell
  • breathes
  • 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
Image of page 181 page: 181

  • Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass,—
  • The finger-points look through like rosy blooms:
  • Your eyes smile peace. The pasture gleams and
  • glooms
  • '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.
Image of page 182 page: 182

  • 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 governing star,
  • 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.
Image of page 183 page: 183

  • Sometimes she is a child within mine arms,
  • Cowering beneath dark wings that love must
  • chase,—
  • With still tears showering and averted face,
  • Inexplicably filled with faint alarms:
  • And oft from mine own spirit's hurtling harms
  • I crave the refuge of her deep embrace,—
  • Against all ills the fortified strong place
  • And sweet reserve of sovereign counter-charms.
  • And Love, our light at night and shade at noon,
  • 10 Lulls us to rest with songs, and turns away
  • All shafts of shelterless tumultuous day.
  • Like the moon's growth, his face gleams through
  • his tune;
  • And as soft waters warble to the moon,
  • Our answering spirits chime one roundelay.
Image of page 184 page: 184

  • 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?
Image of page 185 page: 185

  • 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 is hers,
  • Follies of love are love's true ministers.”
Image of page 186 page: 186

  • 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!
Image of page 187 page: 187

  • 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
  • stirr'd:
  • 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
  • wrong,
  • 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
  • skies?
Image of page 188 page: 188

  • 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
  • prove,
  • O lovely and beloved, O my love?
Image of page 189 page: 189

  • 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.
Image of page 190 page: 190

  • 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 soul doth
  • move
  • My soul with changeful light of infinite love.
Image of page 191 page: 191

  • 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
  • tree,
  • 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.
Image of page 192 page: 192

  • Love, through your spirit and mine what summer
  • eve
  • 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
  • trees.
  • This day at least was Summer's paramour,
  • Sun-coloured to the imperishable core
  • With sweet well-being of love and full heart's
  • ease.
Electronic Archive Edition: 1