Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription
Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets (1881), proof Signature Y (Delaware Museum, second
revise, partial copy)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1881 May 18 (circa)
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Chiswick Press, C. Whittingham and Co.
full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.
- 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 321):
1 For a woman's fragmentary inscription.
- “THERE is a budding morrow in midnight:”—
- So sang our Keats, our English nightingale.
- And here, as lamps across the bridge turn pale
- In London's smokeless resurrection-light,
- Dark breaks to dawn. But o'er the deadly blight
- Of love deflowered and sorrow of none avail
- Which makes this man gasp and this woman
- Can day from darkness ever again take flight?
- Ah! gave not these two hearts their mutual pledge,
10Under one mantle sheltered 'neath the hedge
- In gloaming courtship? And O God! to-day
- He only knows he holds her;—but what part
- Can life now take? She cries in her locked heart,—
- “Leave me—I do not know
- HER lute hangs shadowed in the apple-tree,
- While flashing fingers weave the sweet-strung
- 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 rune:
- Till he, the fated mariner, hears her cry,
- And up her rock, bare-breasted, comes to die?
- BEHOLD Fiammetta, shown in Vision here.
- Gloom-girt 'mid Spring-flushed apple-growth she
- 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 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.
- THE thronged boughs of the shadowy sycamore
- Still bear young leaflets half the summer through;
- From when the robin 'gainst the unhidden blue
- Perched dark, till now, deep in the leafy core,
- The embowered throstle's urgent wood-notes soar
- Through summer silence. Still the leaves come
- Yet never rosy-sheathed as those which drew
- Their spiral tongues from spring-buds heretofore.
- Within the branching shade of Reverie
10Dreams even may spring till autumn; yet none be
- Like woman's budding day-dream spirit-fann'd.
- Lo! tow'rd deep skies, not deeper than her look,
- She dreams; till now on her forgotten book
- Drops the forgotten blossom from her hand.
Electronic Archive Edition: 1