Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets (1881), proof Signature Y (Delaware Museum, first author's proof)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1881 May 7
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Chiswick Press, C. Whittingham and Co.
Issue: 1

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

Image of page 321 page: 321
Printer's Direction: Sonnets (all along top)
Editorial Description: DGR's note to the printer correcting the running head.
Manuscript Addition: [Charles Whittingham's printer date stamp, 7 May 81]

Deleted Text
  • THESE coins that jostle on my hand do own
  • No single image: each name here and date
  • Denoting in man's consciousness and state
  • New change. In some, the face is clearly known,—
  • In others marred. The badge of that old throne
  • Of Kings is on the obverse; or this sign
  • Which says, “Behold, I, France, am only mine;”
  • Or else the eagle that dared soar alone.
  • Even as these coins, so are these lives and years
  • 10 Mixed and bewildered; yet hs each of them
  • No less its part in what has come to be
  • For France. Republic, Empire, Monarchy,—
  • Each clamours or keeps silence in her name,
  • And lives within the pulse that now is hers.
Image of page 322 page: 322

Deleted Text
  • AS one who, groping in a narrow stair,
  • Has imminent clang of bells against his ears,
  • Which, being afar in distance, still appears
  • Quite close to him because of the pent air,—
  • So with this France. She stumbles half aware
  • In darkness without space for breath. Each one
  • Who hears the thunder says, It shall anon
  • Be in among her ranks to scatter her
  • This may be; and it may be that the storm
  • 10 Is spent in rain upon the unscathed seas
  • Or breaks o'er other countries ere it die;
  • While she, upclimbing always through the swarm
  • Of darkness and of hurtling sound, from these
  • Steps forth upon the light in a still sky.
Image of page 323 page: 323
  • 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 324 page: 324
Printer's Direction: This in one / line small caps.
Editorial Description: DGR's note to the printer referencing the printing of the revision to the title.


at the Anniversary Banquet, (21ST OCT OBER, 187* ).
  • IN grappled ships around The Victory,
  • 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 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 325 page: 325

(13TH MARCH, 1881.)
  • FROM him did forty million serfs, endow'd
  • Each with six feet of death-due soil, receive
  • Rich freeborn lifelong land, where i on to sheave
  • Their country's harvest. These to-day aloud
  • Demand of Heaven a 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.
Image of page 326 page: 326
  • HOW large that thrush looks on the bare thorn-tree!
  • A swarm of such, three little months ago,
  • Had hidden in the leaves and let none know
  • Save by the outburst of their minstrelsy.
  • A white flake here and there—a snow-lily
  • Of last night's frost—our naked flower-beds hold;
  • And for a rose-flower on the darkling mould
  • The hungry redbreast gleams. No bloom, no bee.
  • The current shudders to its ice-bound sedge:
  • 10 Nipped in their bath, the stark reeds one by one
  • Flash each its clinging diamond in the sun:
  • 'Neath winds which for this Winter's sovereign
  • pledge
  • Shall curb great king-masts to the ocean's edge
  • And leave memorial forest-king's o'erthrown.
Image of page 327 page: 327
  • SOFT-LITTERED is the new-year's lambing-fold,
  • And in the hollowed haystack at its side
  • The shepherd lies o'nights now, wakeful-eyed
  • At the ewes' travailing call through the dark cold.
  • The young rooks cheep 'mid the thick caw o'the old:
  • And near unpeopled stream-sides, on the ground,
  • By her spring-cry the moorhen's nest is found,
  • Where the drained flood-lands flaunt their marigold.
  • Chill are the gusts to which the pastures cower,
  • 10 And chill the current where the young reeds stand
  • As green and close as the young wheat on land:
  • Yet here the cuckoo and the cuckoo-flower
  • Plight to the heart Spring's perfect imminent hour
  • Whose breath shall soothe you like your dear
  • one's hand.
Image of page 328 page: 328
Printer's Direction: Sonnets
Editorial Description: DGR's note to the printer correcting the running head.
Printer's Direction: Stet this to page 32 2 4
Editorial Description: DGR's note to the printer restoring the poem, after having marked it for excision.
  • SISTER, first shake we off the dust we have
  • Upon our feet, lest it defile the stones
  • Inscriptured, covering their sacred bones
  • Who lie i'the aisles which keep the names they gave,
  • Their trust abiding round them in the grave;
  • Whom painters paint for visible orisons,
  • And to whom sculptors pray in stone and bronze;
  • Their voices echo still like a spent wave.
  • Without here, the church-bells are but a tune,
  • 10And on the carven church-door this hot noon
  • Lays all its heavy sunshine here without:
  • But having entered in, we shall find there
  • Silence, and sudden dimness, and deep prayer,
  • And faces of crowned angels all about.
Image of page 329 page: 329
Added TextX
  • DID she in summer write it, or in spring,
  • Or with this wail of autumn at her ears,
  • Or in some winter left among old years
  • Scratched it through tettered cark? A certain thing
  • That round her heart the frost was hardening,
  • Not to be thawed of tears, which on this pane
  • Channelled the rime, perchance, in fevered rain,
  • For false man's sake and love's most bitter sting.
  • Howbeit, between this last word and the next
  • 10Unwritten, subtly seasoned was the smart,
  • And here at least the grace to weep: if she,
  • Rather, midway in her disconsolate text,
  • Rebelled not, loathing from the trodden heart
  • That thing which she had found man's love to be.
Transcribed Footnote (page 329):

Added TextX For a woman's fragmentary inscription.

Image of page 330 page: 330

  • LUNG è I è la luce che in sù questo muro
  • Rifrange appena, un breve istante scorta
  • Del rio palazzo alla soprana porta.
  • Lungi quei fiori d'E u nna, O lido oscuro,
  • Dal frutto tuo fatal che omai m'è duro.
  • Lungi quel cielo dal tartareo manto
  • Che quì mi cuopre: e lungi ahi lungi ahi quanto
  • Le notti che sar a àn dai di ì che furo.
  • Lungi da me mi sento; e ognor s equ ognando
  • 10 Cerco e ricerco, e resto ascoltatrice;
  • E qualche cuore a qualche anima dice,
  • (Di cui mi g ui iunge il suon da quando in quando,
  • Continuamente insieme sospirando,)—
  • “Oimè per te, Proserpina infelice!”
Image of page 331 page: 331

  • Afar away the light that brings cold cheer
  • Unto this wall,—one instant and no more
  • Admitted at my distant palace-door.
  • Afar the flowers of E u nna from this drear
  • Dire fruit, which, tasted once, must thrall me here.
  • Afar those skies from this Tartarean grey
  • That chills me: and afar, how far away,
  • The nights that shall be from the days that were.
  • Afar from mine own self I seem, and wing
  • 10 Strange ways in thought, and listen for a sign:
  • And still some heart unto some soul doth pine,
  • (Whose sounds mine inner sense is fain to bring,
  • Continually together murmuring,)—
  • “Woe's me for thee, unhappy Proserpine . !
Image of page 332 page: 332

  • O BELLA Mano, che ti lavi e piaci
  • In quel medesmo tuo puro elemento
  • Donde la Dea dell' amoroso avvento
  • Nacque, (e dall' onda s'infuocar le faci
  • Di mille inispegnibili fornaci):—
  • Come a Venere a te loro l'oro e l'argento
  • Offron gli Amori; e ognun riguarda attento
  • La bocca che sorride e te che taci.
  • In dolce modo dove onor t'invii
  • 10 Vattene adorna, e porta insiem fra tante
  • Di Venere e di vergine sembiante;
  • Umilemente in luoghi onesti e pii
  • Bianca e soave ogn e ora; infin che sii,
  • O Mano, mansueta in man d'amante.
Image of page 333 page: 333

  • O LOVELY hand, that thy sweet self dost lave
  • In that thy pure and proper element,
  • Whence erst the Lady of Love's high advènt
  • Was born, and endless fires sprang from the
  • wave:—
  • Even as her Loves to her their offerings gave,
  • For thee the jewelled gifts they bear; while each
  • Looks to those lips, of music-measured speech
  • The fount, and of more bliss than man may crave.
  • In royal wise ring-girt and bracelet-spann'd,
  • 10 A flower of Venus' own virginity,
  • Go shine among thy sisterly sweet band;
  • In maiden-minded converse delicately
  • Evermore white and soft; until thou be,
  • O hand! heart-handsel'd in a lover's hand.
Image of page 334 page: 334

  • BEHOLD Fiammetta, shown in Vision here.
  • Gloom-girt 'mid Spring-flushed apple-growth she
  • stands;
  • And as she sways the branches with her hands,
  • Along her arm the sundered bloom falls sheer,
  • In separate petals shed, each like a tear;
  • While from the quivering bough the bird expands
  • His wings. And lo! thy spirit understands
  • Life shaken and shower'd and flown, and Death
  • drawn near.
  • All stirs with change. Her garments beat the air:
  • 10 The angel circling round her aureole
  • Shimmers in flight against the tree s 's grey bole:
  • While she, with reassuring eyes most fair,
  • A presage and a promise stands; as 'twere
  • On Death's dark storm the rainbow of the Soul.
Image of page 335 page: 335

  • MYSTERY: lo! betwixt the sun and moon
  • Astarte of the Syrians: Venus Queen
  • E v re Aphrodite was. In silver sheen
  • Her twofold girdle clasps the infinite boon
  • Of bliss whereof the heaven and earth commune:
  • And from her neck's inclining flower-stem lean
  • Love-freighted lips and absolute eyes that wean
  • The pulse of hearts to the spheres' dominant tune.
  • Torch-bearing her sweet ministers compel
  • 10 All thrones of light beyond the sky and sea
  • The witness of Beauty's face to be:
  • That face, of Love's all-penetrative spell
  • Amulet, talisman, and oracle,—
  • Betwixt the sun and moon a mystery.
Image of page 336 page: 336
Printer's Direction: Indent
Editorial Description: DGR's note to the printer in left margin of lines 13-14
Printer's Direction: get in 2 pages / on slip
Editorial Description: DGR's note to the printer.

  • HER lute hangs shadowed in the apple-tree,
  • While flashing fingers weave the sweet-strung
  • spell
  • Between its chords; and as the wild notes swell,
  • The sea-bird for those branches leaves the sea.
  • But to what sound her listening ear stoops she?
  • What netherworld gulf-whispers doth she hear,
  • In answering echoes from what planisphere,
  • Along the wind, along the estuary?
  • She sinks into her spell: and when full soon
  • 10 Her lips move and she soars into her song,
  • What creatures of the midmost main shall throng
  • In furrowed surf-clouds to the summoning t rune:
  • Till he, the fated mariner , hears her cry,
  • And up her rock, bare-breasted, comes to die?
Electronic Archive Edition: 1