Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets (1881), proof Signature X (Delaware Museum, first revise, complete copy)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1881 May 10
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Chiswick Press, C. Whittingham and Co.
Issue: 2

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

Image of page 305 page: 305
Manuscript Addition: 2
Editorial Description: Printer's proof number added in upper left.
Manuscript Addition: R
Editorial Description: Printer's notation at upper right.
Manuscript Addition: [Charles Whittingham's printer date stamp, 10 May 81]
Sig. X
  • The Past is over and fled;
  • Named new, we name it the old;
  • Thereof some tale hath been told,
  • But no word comes from the dead;
  • Whether at all they be,
  • Or whether as bond or free,
  • Or whether they too were we,
  • 20Or by what spell they have sped.
  • Still we say as we go,—
  • “Strange to think by the way,
  • Whatever there is to know,
  • That shall we know one day.”
  • What of the heart of hate
  • That beats in thy breast, O Time?—
  • Red strife from the furthest prime,
  • And anguish of fierce debate;
  • Image of page 306 page: 306
  • War that shatters her slain,
  • 30 And peace that grinds them as grain,
  • And eyes fixed ever in vain
  • On the pitiless eyes of Fate.
  • Still we say as we go,—
  • “Strange to think by the way,
  • Whatever there is to know,
  • That shall we know one day.”
  • What of the heart of love
  • That bleeds in thy breast, O Man?—
  • Thy kisses snatched 'neath the ban
  • 40Of fangs that mock them above;
  • Thy bells prolonged unto knells,
  • Thy hope that a breath dispels,
  • Thy bitter forlorn farewells
  • And the empty echoes thereof?
  • Image of page 307 page: 307
  • Still we say as we go,—
  • “Strange to think by the way,
  • Whatever there is to know,
  • That shall we know one day.”
  • The sky leans dumb on the sea,
  • 50 Aweary with all its wings;
  • And oh! the song the sea sings
  • Is dark everlastingly.
  • Our past is clean forgot,
  • Our present is and is not,
  • Our future's a sealed seedplot,
  • And what betwixt them are we?—
  • We who say as we go,—
  • “Strange to think by the way,
  • Whatever there is to know,
  • 60 That shall we know one day.”
Image of page [308] page: [308]
Note: blank page
Image of page [309] page: [309]
Image of page [310] page: [310]
Note: blank page
Image of page [311] page: [311]
Printer's Direction: This in two / lines as / divided / —second / line in / Italics / between / brackets.
Editorial Description: DGR's note to the printer respecting the design of the sonnet's subtitle.


BY MICHAEL ANGELO, ( In the National

1 )
  • Turn not the prophet's page, O Son! He knew
  • All that thou hast to suffer, and hath writ.
  • Not yet thine hour of knowledge. Infinite
  • The sorrows that thy manhood's lot must rue
  • And dire acquaintance of thy grief. That clue
  • The spirits of thy mournful ministerings
  • Seek through yon scroll in silence. For these
  • things
  • The angels have desired to look into.
  • Still before Eden waves the fiery sword,—
  • 10 Her Tree of Life unransomed: whose sad Tree
  • Of Knowledge yet to growth of Calvary
  • Must yield its Tempter,—Hell the earliest dead
  • Of Earth resign,—and yet, O Son and Lord,
  • The Seed o' the Woman bruise the serpent's
  • head.
Transcribed Footnote (page [311]):

1 In this picture the Virgin Mother is seen withholding

from the Child Saviour the prophetic writings in which his

sufferings are foretold. Angelic figures beside them examine

a scroll.

Image of page 312 page: 312
Printer's Direction: In two / lines as / divided / —2nd line / in italics / between / brackets
Editorial Description: DGR's note to the printer, referencing the printing of the subtitle.



(In the Accademia of Florence.)
  • What masque of what old wind-withered New-Year
  • Honours this Lady? 1 Flora, wanton-eyed
  • For birth, and with all flowrets prankt and pied:
  • Aurora, Zephyrus, with mutual cheer
  • Of clasp and kiss: the Graces circling near,
  • 'Neath bower-linked arch of white arms glorified:
  • And with those feathered feet which hovering
  • glide
  • O'er Spring's brief bloom, Hermes the harbinger.
  • Birth-bare, not death-bare yet, the young stems
  • stand,
  • 10 This Lady's temple-columns: o'er her head
  • Love wings his shaft. What mystery here is read
  • Of homage or of hope? But how command
  • Dead Springs to answer? And how question here
  • These mummers of that wind-withered New-
  • Year?
Transcribed Footnote (page 312):

1 The same lady, here surrounded by the masque of

Spring, is evidently the subject by a portrait of by Botticelli for-

merly in the Pourtalès collection in Paris. This portrait is

inscribed “Smeralda Bandinelli.”

Image of page 313 page: 313
  • With Shakspeare's manhood at a boy's wild
  • heart,—
  • Through Hamlet's doubt to Shakspeare near
  • allied,
  • And kin to Milton through his Satan's pride,—
  • At Death's sole door he stooped, and craved a dart;
  • And to the dear new bower of England's art,—
  • Even to that shrine Time else had deified,
  • The unuttered heart that soared against his
  • side,—
  • Drove the fell point, and smote life's seals apart.
  • Thy nested home-loves, noble Chatterton;
  • 10 The angel-trodden stair thy soul could trace
  • Up Redcliffe's spire; and in the world's armed
  • space
  • Thy gallant sword-play:—these to many an one
  • Are sweet for ever; as thy grave unknown
  • And love-dream of thine unrecorded face.
Image of page 314 page: 314

(To Frederick Shields, on his Sketch of Blake's work-

room and death-room, 3 Fountain Court, Strand.)
  • This is the place. Even here the dauntless soul,
  • The unflinching hand, wrought on; till in that
  • nook,
  • As on that very bed, his life partook
  • New birth, and passed. Yon river's dusky shoal,
  • Whereto the close-built coiling lanes unroll,
  • Faced his work-window, whence his eyes would
  • stare,
  • Thought-wandering, unto nought that met them
  • there,
  • But to the unfettered irreversible goal.
  • This cupboard, Holy of Holies, held the cloud
  • 10 Of his soul writ and limned; this other one,
  • His true wife's charge, full oft to their abode
  • Yielded for daily bread the martyr's stone,
  • Ere yet their food might be that Bread alone,
  • The words now home-speech of the mouth of God.
Image of page 315 page: 315
  • His Soul fared forth (as from the deep home-grove
  • The father-songster plies the hour-long quest,)
  • To feed his soul-brood hungering in the nest;
  • But his warm Heart, the mother-bird, above
  • Their callow fledgling progeny still hove
  • With tented roof of wings and fostering breast
  • Till the Soul fed the soul-brood. Richly blest
  • From Heaven their growth, whose food was Human
  • Love.
  • Yet ah! Like desert pools that show the stars
  • 10 Once in long leagues,—even such the scarce-
  • snatched hours
  • Which deepening pain left to his lordliest
  • powers:—
  • Heaven lost through spider-trammelled prison-bars.
  • Six years, from sixty saved! Yet kindling skies
  • Own them, a beacon to our centuries.
Image of page 316 page: 316
  • The weltering London ways where children weep
  • And girls whom none call maidens laugh,—
  • strange road
  • Miring his outward steps, who inly trode
  • The bright Castalian brink and Latmos' steep:—
  • Even such his life's cross-paths; till deathly deep
  • He toiled through sands of Lethe; and long pain,
  • Weary with labour spurned and love found vain,
  • In dead Rome's sheltering shadow wrapped his
  • sleep.
  • O pang-dowered Poet, whose reverberant lips
  • 10And heart-strung lyre awoke the Moon's eclipse,—
  • Thou whom the daisies glory in growing o'er,—
  • Their fragrance clings around thy name, not writ
  • But rumour'd in water, while the fame of it
  • Along Time's flood goes echoing evermore.
Image of page 317 page: 317

(Inscription for the couch, still preserved, on which

he passed the last night of his life.)
  • 'Twixt those twin worlds,—the world of Sleep,
  • which gave
  • No dream to warn,—the tidal world of Death,
  • Which the earth's sea, as the earth, replenisheth,—
  • Shelley, Song's orient sun, to breast the wave,
  • Rose from this couch that morn. Ah! did he brave
  • Only the sea?—or did man's deed of hell
  • Engulph his bark 'mid mists impenetrable? . . . .
  • No eye discerned, nor any power might save.
  • When that mist cleared, O Shelley! what dread veil
  • 10 Was rent from thee, to whom far-darkling Truth
  • Reigned sovereign guide through thy brief age-
  • less youth?
  • Was the Truth thy Truth, Shelley?—Hush! All-
  • Hail,
  • Past doubt, thou gav'st it; and in Truth's bright
  • sphere
  • Art first of praisers, being most praisèd here.
Image of page 318 page: 318
  • The head and hands of murdered Cicero,
  • Above his seat high in the Forum hung,
  • Drew jeers and burning tears. When on the rung
  • Of a swift-mounted ladder, all aglow,
  • Fluvia, Mark Antony's shameless wife, with show
  • Of foot firm-poised and gleaming arm upflung,
  • Bade her sharp needle pierce that god-like tongue
  • Whose speech fed Rome even as the Tiber's flow.
  • And thou, Cleopatra's Needle, that hadst thrid
  • 10Great skirts of Time ere she and Antony hid
  • Dead hope!—hast thou too reached, surviving
  • death,
  • A city of sweet speech scorned,—on whose chill stone
  • Keats withered, Coleridge pined, and Chatterton,
  • Breadless, with poison froze the God-fired breath?
Image of page 319 page: 319

At the Anniversary Banquet,

21st October, 187 6 *.
  • In grappled ships around The Victory,
  • These Three boys did England's Duty with stout cheer,
  • While one dread truth was kept from every ear,
  • More dire than deafening fire that churned the sea:
  • For in the flag-ship's weltering cockpit, he
  • Who was the Battle's Heart without a peer,
  • He who had seen all fearful sights save Fear,
  • Was passing from all life save Victory.
  • And round the old memorial board to-day,
  • 10 These Three greybeards—each a warworn British Tar—
  • View through the mist of years that hour afar:
  • Who soon shall greet, 'mid memories of fierce fray,
  • The impassioned soul which on its radiant way
  • Soared through the fiery cloud of Trafalgar.
Image of page 320 page: 320

(13th March, 1881.)
  • From him did forty million serfs, endow'd
  • Each with six feet of death-due soil, receive
  • Rich freeborn lifelong land, whereon to sheave
  • Their country's harvest. These to-day aloud
  • Demand of Heaven their Father's blood,—sore bow'd
  • With tears and thrilled with wrath; who, while
  • they grieve,
  • On every guilty head would fain achieve
  • All torment by his edicts disallow'd.
  • He stayed the knout's red-ravening fangs; and first
  • 10 Of Russian traitors, his own murderers go
  • White to the tomb. While he,—laid foully low
  • With limbs red-rent, with festering brain which erst
  • Willed kingly freedom,—'gainst the deed accurst
  • To God bears witness of his people's woe.
Electronic Archive Edition: 1