Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets (1881), proof Signature Y (Delaware Museum, third revise, WMR's copy)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1881 May 18 (circa)
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Chiswick Press, C. Whittingham and Co.
Issue: 4

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

Image of page 321 page: 321
Sig. Y
  • 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.

Image of page 322 page: 322
  • 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 323 page: 323
Note: Printer marks lines 5 and 8 for improved character spacing.
  • 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 324 page: 324
Note: Printer marks line 4 for improved character spacing.
  • 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 325 page: 325
  • 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
  • year;
  • 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
  • clear
  • The heaven, and moonlight soothed the limpid
  • space!
  • 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
  • Name.
Image of page 326 page: 326
Editorial Description: WMR's marginal notation to close up the character spacing in the word “autumn” in line 7.


DIED 1874.)
  • 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
  • there.
  • What friendships, what desires, what love, what
  • wife?—
  • 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
  • strife.
  • A mist has risen: we see the youth no more:
  • 10 Does he see on and strive on? And may we
  • Late-tottering worldworn hence, find his to be
  • The young strong hand which helps us up that
  • shore?
  • Or, echoing the No More with Nevermore,
  • Must Night be ours and his? We hope: and he?
Image of page 327 page: 327
Note: Printer marks line 9 for improved character spacing.

  • “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
  • quail,
  • 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 you—go away!”
Image of page 328 page: 328

  • 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 rune:
  • Till he, the fated mariner, hears her cry,
  • And up her rock, bare-breasted, comes to die?
Image of page 329 page: 329

  • 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 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 330 page: 330
Note: Printer marks line 2 for improved character spacing.

  • 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
  • new;
  • 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.
Image of page 331 page: 331

  • 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.
Image of page 332 page: 332
Manuscript Addition: I don't think an [accent grave] is wanted
Editorial Description: WMR's note to “saràn” in line 8.

  • LUNGI è la luce che in sù questo muro
  • 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!”
Image of page 333 page: 333

  • 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!”
Image of page 334 page: 334
Manuscript Addition: I am afraid the word is sia: I don't think / there is sii or rather think there is sii but only for imperative —Perhaps the two other / rhymes w d bear the a (cutting out e before / pia)
Editorial Description: WMR's note to the last word in line 113..

  • 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.
Image of page 335 page: 335

  • 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 [336] page: [336]
Note: justified, centered.

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