Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription
Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets (1881), proof Signature O (Delaware Museum, complete
second revise, author's copy)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 9 May 1881
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Chiswick Press, C. Whittingham and Co.
full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.
Manuscript Addition: 3a
Editorial Description: Printer's proof number added in upper left.
Manuscript Addition: R
Editorial Description: Printer's notation in upper right signalling this is a revise copy.
Manuscript Addition: [Charles Whittingham's printer date stamp, 9 May 81]
- High grace, the dower of queens; and
- Some wood-born wonder's sweet simplicity;
- A glance like water brimming with the sky
- Or hyacinth-light where forest-shadows fall;
- Such thrilling pallor of cheek as doth enthral
- The heart; a mouth whose passionate forms imply
- All music and all silence held thereby;
- Deep golden locks, her sovereign coronal;
- A round reared neck, meet column of Love's shrine
10 To cling to when the heart takes sanctuary;
- Hands which for ever at Love's bidding be,
- And soft-stirred feet still answering to his sign:—
- These are her gifts, as tongue may tell them o'er.
- Breathe low her name, my soul; for that
Printer's Direction: this to page 191
Editorial Description: DGR's note to to the printer to shift the position of the
- Lady, I thank thee for thy loveliness,
- Because my lady is more lovely still.
- Glorying I gaze, and yield with glad goodwill
- To thee thy tribute; by whose sweet-spun dress
- Of delicate life Love labours to assess
- My lady's absolute queendom; saying, “Lo!
- How high this beauty is, which yet doth show
- But as that beauty's sovereign votaress.”
- Lady, I saw thee with her, side by side;
10 And as, when night's fair fires their
- An emulous star too near the moon will ride,—
- Even so thy rays within her luminous bound
- Were traced no more; and by the light so drown'd,
- Lady, not thou but she was glorified.
- Could Juno's self more sovereign presence
- Than thou, 'mid other ladies throned in grace?—
- Or Pallas, when thou bend'st with soul-stilled face
- O'er poet's page gold-shadowed in thy hair?
- Dost thou than Venus seem less heavenly fair
- When o'er the sea of love's tumultuous trance
- Hovers thy smile, and mingles with thy glance
- That sweet voice like the last wave murmuring
- Before such triune loveliness divine
10 Awestruck I ask, which goddess here most claims
- The prize that, howsoe'er adjudged, is thine?
- Then Love breathes low the sweetest of
- And Venus Victrix to my heart doth bring
- Herself, the Helen of her guerdoning.
- 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 last relay
- 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.
- Sometimes I fain would find in thee some
- That I might love thee still in spite of it:
- Yet how should our Lord Love curtail one whit
- Thy perfect praise whom most he would exalt?
- Alas! he can but make my heart's low vault
- Even in men's sight unworthier, being lit
- By thee, who thereby show'st more exquisite
- Like fiery chrysoprase in deep basalt.
- Yet will I nowise shrink; but at Love's shrine
10 Myself within the beams his brow doth dart
- Will set the flashing jewel of thy heart
- In that dull chamber where it deigns to shine:
- For lo! in honour of thine excellencies
- My heart takes pride to show how poor it is.
- Not in thy body is thy life at all
- But in this lady's lips and hands and eyes;
- Through these she yields thee life that vivifies
- What else were sorrow's servant and death's thrall.
- Look on thyself without her, and recall
- The waste remembrance and forlorn surmise
- That lived but in a dead-drawn breath of sighs
- O'er vanished hours and hours eventual.
- Even so much life hath the poor tress of hair
10 Which, stored apart, is all love hath to show
- For heart-beats and for fire-heats long ago;
- Even so much life endures unknown, even where,
- 'Mid change the changeless night environeth,
- Lies all that golden hair undimmed in death.
- “When that dead face, bowered in
- Which once was all the life years held for thee,
- Can now scarce bid the tides of memory
- Cast on thy soul a little spray of tears,—
- How canst thou gaze into these eyes of hers
- Whom now thy heart delights in, and not see
- Within each orb Love's philtred euphrasy
- Make them of buried troth remembrancers?”
- “Nay, pitiful Love, nay, loving Pity! Well
10 Thou knowest that in these twain I have confess'd
- Two very voices of thy summoning bell.
- Nay, Master, shall not Death make manifest
- In these the culminant changes which approve
- The love-moon that must light my soul to Love?”
- “Thou Ghost,” I said, “and is thy name
- Yesterday's son, with such an abject brow!—
- And can To-morrow be more pale than thou?”
- While yet I spoke, the silence answered: “Yea,
- Henceforth our issue is all grieved and grey,
- And each beforehand makes such poor avow
- As of old leaves beneath the budding bough
- Or night-drift that the sundawn shreds away.”
- Then cried I: “Mother of many malisons,
10 O Earth, receive me to thy dusty bed!”
- But therewithal the tremulous silence said:
- “Lo! Love yet bids thy lady greet thee once:—
- Yea, twice,—whereby thy life is still the sun's;
- And thrice,—whereby the shadow of death
- Girt in dark growths, yet
glimmering with one
- O night desirous as the nights of youth!
- Why should my heart within thy spell, forsooth,
- Now beat, as the bride's finger-pulses are
- Quickened within the girdling golden bar?
- What wings are these than fan my pillow smooth?
- And why does Sleep, waved back by Joy and
- Tread softly round and gaze at me from far?
- Nay, night deep-leaved! And would Love feign in
10 Some shadowy palpitating grove that bears
- Rest for man's eyes and music for his ears?
- O lonely night! art thou not known to me,
- A thicket hung with masks of mockery
- And watered with the wasteful warmth of tears?
- Two separate divided silences,
- Which, brought together, would find loving voice;
- Two glances which together would rejoice
- In love, now lost like stars beyond dark trees;
- Two hands apart whose touch alone gives ease;
- Two bosoms which, heart-shrined with
- Would, meeting in one clasp, be made the same;
- Two souls, the shores wave-mocked of sundering
- Such are we now. Ah! may our hope forecast
10 Indeed one hour again, when on this stream
- Of darkened love once more the light
- An hour how slow to come, how quickly past,—
- Which blooms and fades, and only leaves at last,
- Faint as shed flowers, the attenuated dream.
- Like labour-laden moonclouds faint to flee
- From winds that sweep the winter-bitten wold,—
- Like multiform circumfluence manifold
- Of night's flood-tide,—like terrors that agree
- Of hoarse-tongued fire and inarticulate sea,—
- Even such, within some glass dimmed by our
- Our hearts discern wild images of Death,
- Shadows and shoals that edge eternity.
- Howbeit athwart Death's imminent shade doth
10 One Power, than flow of stream or flight of dove
- Sweeter to glide around, to brood above.
- Tell me, my heart,—what angel-greeted door
- Or threshold of wing-winnowed threshing-floor
- Hath guest fire-fledged as thine, whose
- I deemed thy garments, O my Hope, were grey,
- So far I viewed thee. Now the space between
- Is passed at length; and garmented in green
- Even as in days of yore thou stand'st to-day.
- Ah God! and but for lingering dull dismay,
- On all that road our footsteps erst had been
- Even thus commingled, and our shadows seen
- Blent on the hedgerows and the water-way.
- O Hope of mine whose eyes are living love,
10 No eyes but hers,—O Love and Hope the same!—
- Lean close to me, for now the sinking sun
- That warmed our feet scarce gilds our hair above.
- O hers thy voice and very hers thy name!
- Alas, cling round me, for the day is done!
Note: Printer's mark after line 1 to replace character.
- Cling heart to heart; nor of this hour demand
10 Whether in very truth, when we are dead,
- Our hearts shall wake to know Love's golden head
- Sole sunshine of the imperishable land;
- Or but discern, through night's unfeatured scope,
- Scorn-fired at length the illusive eyes of
- Love, should I fear death most for you or
- Yet if you die, can I not follow you,
- Forcing the straits of change? Alas! but who
- Shall wrest a bond from night's inveteracy,
- Ere yet my hazardous soul put forth, to be
- Her warrant against all her haste might rue?—
- Ah! in your eyes so reached what dumb adieu,
- What unsunned gyres of waste eternity?
- And if I die the first, shall death be then
10 A lampless watchtower whence I see you weep?—
- Or (woe is me!) a bed wherein my sleep
- Ne'er notes (as death's dear cup at last you drain),
- The hour when you too learn that all is vain
- And that Hope sows what Love shall never reap?
- Because our talk was of the cloud-control
- And moon-track of the journeying face of Fate,
- Her tremulous kisses faltered at love's gate
- And her eyes dreamed against a distant goal:
- But soon, remembering her how brief the whole
- Of joy, which its own hours annihilate,
- Her set gaze gathered, thirstier than of late,
- And as she kissed, her mouth became her soul.
- Thence in what ways we wandered, and how strove
10 To build with fire-tried vows the piteous home
- Which memory haunts and whither sleep may
- They only know for whom the roof of Love
- Is the still-seated secret of the grove,
- Nor spire may rise nor bell be heard
- What shall be said of this embattled day
- And armed occupation of this night
- By all thy foes beleaguered,—now when sight
- Nor sound denotes the loved one far away?
- Of these thy vanquished hours what shalt thou say,—
- As every sense to which she dealt delight
- Now labours lonely o'er the stark noon-height
- To reach the sunset's desolate disarray?
- Stand still, fond fettered wretch! while Memory's art
10 Parades the Past before thy face, and lures
- Thy spirit to her passionate portraitures:
- Till the tempestuous tide-gates flung apart
- Flood with wild will the hollows of thy heart,
- And thy heart rends thee, and thy body
Electronic Archive Edition: 1