Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets (1881), proof Signature O (Delaware Museum, complete third revise, partial uncorrected copy 2)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1881 May 18 - 1881 June
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Chiswick Press, C. Whittingham and Co.
Issue: 4

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

Image of page 193 page: 193
Sig. O
Note: The page is torn at the bottom, but a pen marking links line 8 to some text that must have once been written at the bottom of the page, probably the text of a suggestion for a different text of the line.
Manuscript Addition: 4c
Editorial Description: Printer's proof number added in upper left.

  • High grace, the dower of queens; and therewithal
  • 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 means
  • more.
Image of page 194 page: 194

  • 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 197 page: 197

  • Sometimes I fain would find in thee some fault,
  • 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.
Image of page 198 page: 198

  • 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.
Image of page 199 page: 199

  • “When that dead face, bowered in the furthest
  • years,
  • 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?”
Image of page 200 page: 200

  • “Thou Ghost,” I said, “and is thy name To-day?—
  • 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 is
  • dead.”
Image of page 201 page: 201

  • Girt in dark growths, yet glimmering with one
  • star,
  • 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
  • Ruth,
  • Tread softly round and gaze at me from far?
  • Nay, night deep-leaved! And would Love feign in
  • thee
  • 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?
Image of page 202 page: 202

  • 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 mutual
  • flame,
  • Would, meeting in one clasp, be made the same;
  • Two souls, the shores wave-mocked of sundering
  • seas:—
  • 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 shall
  • gleam?—
  • 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.
Image of page 203 page: 203

  • 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
  • breath,
  • Our hearts discern wild images of Death,
  • Shadows and shoals that edge eternity.
  • Howbeit athwart Death's imminent shade doth
  • soar
  • 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 lord is
  • Love?
Image of page 204 page: 204

  • 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!
Image of page 205 page: 205
Note: Printer's mark after line 1 to replace character.

  • Bless love and hope. Full many a withered year
  • Whirled past us, eddying to its chill doomsday;
  • And clasped together where the blown leaves lay,
  • We long have knelt and wept full many a tear.
  • Yet lo! one hour at last, the Spring's compeer,
  • Flutes softly to us from some green byeway:
  • Those years, those tears are dead, but only they:—
  • Bless love and hope, true soul; for we are here.
  • 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 Hope.
Image of page 206 page: 206

  • Love, should I fear death most for you or me?
  • 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?
Image of page 207 page: 207

  • 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
  • roam,—
  • 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 therefrom.
Image of page 208 page: 208

  • 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 endures.
Electronic Archive Edition: 1