Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets (1881), proof Signature U (Delaware Museum, final proof, copy 3)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1881 May 18 (circa)
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Chiswick Press, C. Whittingham and Co.
Issue: 3

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

Image of page 289 page: 289
Sig. U
  • O dearest! while we lived and died
  • A living death in every day,
  • Some hours we still were side by side,
  • When where I was you too might stay
  • And rest and need not go away.
  • O nearest, furthest! Can there be
  • At length some hard-earned heart-won home,
  • Where,—exile changed for sanctuary,—
  • Our lot may fill indeed its sum,
  • 20 And you may wait and I may come?
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  • To-night this sunset spreads two golden wings
  • Cleaving the western sky;
  • Winged too with wind it is, and winnowings
  • Of birds; as if the day's last hour in rings
  • Of strenuous flight must die.
  • Sun-steeped in fire, the homeward pinions sway
  • Above the dovecote-tops;
  • And clouds of starlings, ere they rest with day,
  • Sink, clamorous like mill-water, at wild play,
  • 10 By turns in every copse:
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  • Each tree heart-deep the wrangling rout receives,—
  • Save for the whirr within,
  • You could not tell the starlings from the leaves;
  • Then one great puff of wings, and the swarm heaves
  • Away with all its din.
  • Even thus Hope's hours, in ever-eddying flight,
  • To many a refuge tend;
  • With the first light she laughed, and the last light
  • Glows round her still; who natheless in the night
  • 20 At length must make an end.
  • And now the mustering rooks innumerable
  • Together sail and soar,
  • While for the day's death, like a tolling knell,
  • Unto the heart they seem to cry, Farewell,
  • No more, farewell, no more!
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  • Is Hope not plumed, as 'twere a fiery dart?
  • And oh! thou dying day,
  • Even as thou goest must she too depart,
  • And Sorrow fold such pinions on the heart,
  • 30 As will not fly away?
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  • O Leave your hand where it lies cool
  • Upon the eyes whose lids are hot:
  • Its rosy shade is bountiful
  • Of silence, and assuages thought.
  • O lay your lips against your hand
  • And let me feel your breath through it,
  • While through the sense your song shall fit
  • The soul to understand.
  • The music lives upon my brain
  • 10 Between your hands within mine eyes;
  • It stirs your lifted throat like pain,
  • An aching pulse of melodies.
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  • Lean nearer, let the music pause:
  • The soul may better understand
  • Your music, shadowed in your hand,
  • Now while the song withdraws.
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  • I Looked and saw your eyes
  • In the shadow of your hair,
  • As a traveller sees a stream
  • In the shadow of the wood;
  • And I said, “My faint heart sighs,
  • Ah me! to linger there,
  • To drink deep and to dream
  • In the sweet solitude.”
  • I looked and saw your heart
  • 10 In the shadow of your eyes,
  • As a seeker sees the gold
  • In the shadow of the stream;
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  • And I said, “Ah me! what art
  • Should win the immortal prize,
  • Whose want must make life cold
  • And Heaven a hollow dream?”
  • I looked and saw your love
  • In the shadow of your heart,
  • As a diver sees the pearl
  • 20 In the shadow of the sea;
  • And I murmured, not above
  • My breath, but all apart,—
  • “Ah! you can love, sweet girl,
  • And is your love for me?”
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  • Ah! dear one, we were young so long,
  • It seemed that youth would never go,
  • For skies and trees were ever in song
  • And water in singing flow
  • In the days we never again shall know.
  • Alas, so long!
  • Ah! then was it all Spring weather?
  • Nay, but we were both young together.
  • Ah! dear one, I've been old so long,
  • 10 It seems that age is loth to part,
  • Though days and years have never a song,
  • And oh! have they still the art
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  • That warmed the pulses of heart to heart?
  • Alas, so long!
  • Ah! then was it all Spring weather?
  • Nay, but we were both young together.
  • Ah! dear one, you've been dead so long,—
  • How long until we meet again,
  • Where hours may never lose their song
  • 20 Nor flowers forget the rain
  • In glad noonlight that never shall wane?
  • Alas, so long!
  • Ah! shall it be then Spring weather,
  • And ah! shall we be young together?
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  • Waving whispering trees,
  • What do you say to the breeze
  • And what says the breeze to you?
  • 'Mid passing souls ill at ease,
  • Moving murmuring trees,
  • Would ye ever wave an Adieu?
  • Tossing turbulent seas,
  • Winds that wrestle with these,
  • Echo heard in the shell,—
  • 10'Mid fleeting life ill at ease,
  • Restless ravening seas,—
  • Would the echo sigh Farewell?
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  • Surging sumptuous skies,
  • For ever a new surprise,
  • Clouds eternally new,—
  • Is every flake that flies,
  • Widening wandering skies,
  • For a sign—Farewell, Adieu?
  • Sinking suffering heart
  • 20That know'st how weary thou art,—
  • Soul so fain for a flight,—
  • Aye, spread your wings to depart,
  • Sad soul and sorrowing heart,—
  • Adieu, Farewell, Good-night.
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  • Thin are the night-skirts left behind
  • By daybreak hours that onward creep,
  • And thin, alas! the shred of sleep
  • That wavers with the spirit's wind:
  • But in half-dreams that shift and roll
  • And still remember and forget,
  • My soul this hour has drawn your soul
  • A little nearer yet.
  • Our lives, most dear, are never near,
  • 10 Our thoughts are never far apart,
  • Though all that draws us heart to heart
  • Seems fainter now and now more clear.
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  • To-night Love claims his full control,
  • And with desire and with regret
  • My soul this hour has drawn your soul
  • A little nearer yet.
  • Is there a home where heavy earth
  • Melts to bright air that breathes no pain,
  • Where water leaves no thirst again
  • 20And springing fire is Love's new birth?
  • If faith long bound to one true goal
  • May there at length its hope beget,
  • My soul that hour shall draw your soul
  • For ever nearer yet.
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  • Thére is a cloud above the sunset hill,
  • That wends and makes no stay,
  • For its goal lies beyond the fiery west;
  • A lingering breath no calm can chase away,
  • The onward labour of the wind's last will;
  • A flying foam that overleaps the crest
  • Of the top wave: and in possession still
  • A further reach of longing; though at rest
  • From all the yearning years,
  • 10Together in the bosom of that day
  • Ye cling, and with your kisses drink your tears.
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  • The day is dark and the night
  • To him that would search their heart;
  • No lips of cloud that will part
  • Nor morning song in the light:
  • Only, gazing alone,
  • To him wild shadows are shown,
  • Deep under deep unknown
  • And height above unknown height.
  • Still we say as we go,—
  • 10 “Strange to think by the way,
  • Whatever there is to know,
  • That shall we know one day.”
Electronic Archive Edition: 1