Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription
Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets (1881), proof Signature Y (Delaware Museum, third revise,
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.
- 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
- Shall curb great king-masts to the ocean's edge
- And leave memorial forest-king's o'erthrown.
- 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.
- 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.
Printer's Direction: to page 326
Editorial Description: DGR's note to the printer to move the stanza to the next page.
- HOW dear the sky has been above this place!
- Small treasures of this sky that we see here
- Seen weak through prison-bars from year to
- Eyed with a painful prayer upon God's grace
- To save, and tears that stayed along the face
- Lifted at sunset. Yea, how passing dear,
- Those nights when through the bars a wind left
- The heaven, and moonlight soothed the limpid
- So was it, till one night the secret kept
10 Safe in low vault and stealthy corridor
- Was blown abroad on gospel-tongues of flame.
- O ways of God, mysterious evermore!
- How many on this spot have cursed and wept
- That all might stand here now and own Thy
Printer's Direction: to page 325
Editorial Description: DGR's note to the printer to move the stanza to the previous page.
- UPON the landscape of his coming life
- A youth high-gifted gazed, and found it fair:
- The heights of work, the floods of praise, were
- What friendships, what desires, what love, what
- All things to come. The fanned springtide was rife
- With imminent solstice; and the ardent air
- Had summer sweets and a utumn fires to bear;—
- Heart's ease full-pulsed with perfect strength for
- A mist has risen: we see the youth no more:
he see on and strive on? And
- Late-tottering worldworn hence, find
his to be
- The young strong hand which helps us up that
- Or, echoing the No More with Nevermore,
- Must Night be ours and his? We hope: and he?
- “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.
- MYSTERY: lo! betwixt the sun and moon
- Astarte of the Syrians: Venus Queen
- Ere 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.
- LUNGI è la luce che in sù
- Rifrange appena, un breve istante scorta
- Del rio palazzo alla soprana porta.
- Lungi quei fiori d'Enna, 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 saràn dai dì che furo.
- Lungi da me mi sento; e ognor sognando
10 Cerco e ricerco, e resto ascoltatrice;
- E qualche cuore a qualche anima dice,
- (Di cui mi giunge il suon da quando in quando,
- Continuamente insieme sospirando,)—
- “Oimè per te, Proserpina infelice!”
- 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 Enna 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!”
- 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 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 ognora; infin che sii,
- O Mano, mansueta in man d'amante.
- 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
- 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.
Note: justified, centered.
Will be published immediately.
A New Edition, with Additions
BY DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI.
Crown 8vo, bound from the author's design.
Revised and Re-arranged Edition, crown 8vo, price
DANTE AND HIS CIRCLE;
WITH THE ITALIAN POETS PRECEDING HIM
A Collection of
Lyrics, Edited and Translated in the
BY D. G. ROSSETTI.
This work includes a translation of
THE VITA NUOVA OF DANTE.
Electronic Archive Edition: 1