Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: The Doom of the Sirens
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of Composition: 1869
Type of Manuscript: draft copy
Scribe: DGR

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

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The Doom of the Sirens
Act I

Scene I

A Christmastime Hermitage near the Siren's

Rock. A Christianized Prince/ The hermit's

soliloquizing relates
A Christianized

Prince flying from persecution in the latter

days of the Roman Empire, is driven

that way by stress of weather (having

with him his wife & infant child)

and succeeds in taking refuge in the

Hermitage. The Hermit relates to

him the legend of the Sirens, and how

they are among the Pagan powers not

yet entirely subdued but still acting

as demons against the human race.

The spell upon them is that their

power cannot be destroyed until

one of them shall yield to human

love & become enamoured of some

one among her intended victims.

The Hermit has therefore established
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He dwells on his being a Christian, and therefore

beyond the power of Pagan demons, who had as yet destroyed only

those unprotected by true faith.
  • “Digitum tuum, Thoma,
  • Infer, et vide manûs!
  • Manum tuam, Thoma,
  • Affer, et mitte in latus.”
  • “Dominus et Deus,
  • Deus,” (dixit)
  • “Et Dominus meus!”
  • “Quia me vidisti,
  • Thoma, credidisti.
  • 10Beati qui non viderunt,
  • Et crediderunt.”
  • “Dominus et Deus,
  • Deus,” (dixit)
  • “Et Dominus meus!”
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himself hard by to pray for travellers

in danger & if possible, to warn them off

in time, and he implores the Prince

to pursue his voyage by some other course.

The Prince however says that he shall

not be able to do so, and trusts in

Heaven & in his love for his wife to

guard him against danger. They start

The storm having subsided (this scene

occurs the morning after he had taken refuge) the Prince and his family

re-embark, leaving the Hermit praying

for their safety.

Scene 2

The ship arrives at the Sirens' Rock,

amid the songs of the 3 Sirens, the

Thelxiope, Thelxione, and Ligeia.

The first offers wealth
Deleted Textwhich the Prince

, the second greatness & triumph

over his enemies
Deleted Textwhich does not

tempt him either
, the third (Ligeia) offers

her love. Here a chorus in which

the three contend and the wife strives
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rapt by her spells into the

belief that it is the time of his first

love and that he is surrounded by the

scenes of that time.

calling her as he dies by his wife's

name, & shrinking from his wife

without recognition.

The Queen makes a prayer begging God to make him

know her. During this he dies, & Ligeia then says

“He knows us now; Woman, take back your dead!”

The Queen
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against them. The Prince gradually,

in spite of his efforts, succumbs to Li-

-geia & climbs the rock, his wife following

him. Here the choral contention

is continued, the Prince clinging

to Ligeia, & at Atlast dying he dies in her

arms, as she sings, under her poisonous

Deleted TextLigeia then offers the dead

husband back to his wife, and she/who

pronounces a despairing curse against

her Ligeia, praying that she may yet

love and be hated & so destroy herself

& her sisters. The Queen then flings

herself in madness from the rock into

the sea.

The Hermit puts out in a boat to where the Prince's

ship is still lying, and takes the

infant to his Hermitage. He

soliloquizes over him, saying how, he will

if the faith prevails in his father's kingdom,

he will take him in due time to occupy

the throne, but how otherwise he shall

stay with himself to serve him as an acolyte

& so escape the storms of human passion

more baneful than those of the sea.
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Twenty-one years elapse between Acts I. and II.


At the court of the Byzantine Prince.

The courtiers are conversing about the

approaching marriage of the young Prince,

now come to the throne. One of them

relates particulars respecting his

being brought there as an infant a boy by

the Hermit, who revealed the secret

of his father's & mother's death only to

a trusted counsellor, the father of the

girl he is now about to marry. They

also refer to the troubles of the time

when the former Prince had to fly

from his kingdom on account of his

faith, and recall to each other the

progress of events since, and the gradual

establishment of Christianity in the

country, after which the young

Prince was brought back by the

Hermit, & established seated on his father's
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The Prince connects these things with the events

of his early boyhood, which he dimly remembers

in the hermitage by the Sirens' Rock, before the

Hermit brought him to his kingdom; and he confesses

to his betrothed the gloomy uncertainty with which his

mind is clouded.
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throne. Allusions are made to various

omens & portents appearing to bear on

the mysterious death of the Prince's

father & mother, and on the vengeance

still to be taken for it.
Scene 2

A grove, formerly sacred to an oracle.

The Prince & his betrothed meet and here

in the morning and speak of their love & approaching

nuptials, which are to take place

the next/same next day. They are both however

troubled by dreams they have had &

which they relate to each other at

length. These bear fantastically

on the death of the Prince's parents

but without clearly revealing anything,

though seeming to prognosticate misfortunes

still unaccomplished, and a fatal issue to their love.

However, they try to forget all

forebodings and dwell on the happi-

-ness in store for them. They sing
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Scene 3. The Shrine of

the Oracle.

to him. It tells her that her part in the sacrifice

is to let him

It then tells her clearly how it is the

heavenly will that the Prince shall

only wed if he survive d s the vengeance

due for his parents' death, but that

he had been chosen now to fulfil the

doom of the Sirens, & must at once

accomplish his mission. Finally the Oracle

announces that its function has been so far renewed for

the last time that it may be compelled to denounce its fellow

powers of paganism; but that now its voice is silent for ever.

At the end of this scene the Bride's maidens come to meet her, &

find her bewildered & in tears, but cannot learn the cause from her.
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to each other & together, but their songs

seem to find an ominous burden

in the echoes of the sacred grove, and

they part at last, saddened in spite

of themselves.

Scene 3
Added TextThe Prince goes, leaving the

the lady, who says that she will stay there till

her maidens join her.

The same/ The Prince b Being left alone,

she suddenly hears a voice calling him her, and

finds that it comes from the Oracle

of the grove, whose shrine is forgotten

and almost overgrown. She forces the

tangled growth aside & enters the


Here the Oracle speaks

to him her, at first in dark sentences,

but at length more explicitly as

to a great task awaiting him & her lover,

without accomplishing which he must

not hope for love or peace. It

speaks of the evil powers which

caused his parents' death, & are

doomed themselves to annihilation

by the just vengeance transmitted to him.
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Added TextScene 4. The Bridal Chamber on the

morning after the nuptials. The scene opens with a réveillée sung outside. The Prince and Princess are together, and he is speaking

to her of his love & their future happiness, but

after a time, in the midst of their endearments,

he finds begins to perceive that she is disturbed

and anxious, and presses her to tell him

the cause. She at last informs him with tears

of her conference with the oracle on the day of

their last meeting in the grove.

Deleted Textthat at their meeting in the grove she had

withheld from him the cause of hers which

most horrified her, in which she was visited

she had had a dream in which she was

visited by the spirit of the Hermit, now a

spirit in Heaven, who announced that

it was the heavenly will that the prince

should only wed if her survived the vengeance

due for his parents' death, but that he had

been chosen now to fullfil the doom of the

Sirens, and must at once accomplish his misision.

Not even spiritual foreknowledge could

certify beforehand if his life would

be sacrificed in this sacred act, but if so

he and his Bride would renew their love in

Added TextThis dream (as she tells him) she had not the

courage to reveal to him before their wedding,

as it must, if obeyed, it must tear him

from her arms, perhaps never to return;

and she had then resolved to suppress the

terrible secret at any risk to herself; but

on the bridal night, while she lay in his

arms, the Hermit, now a saint in heaven, had appeared to

her in a dream, with a wrathful aspect.
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Deleted Textto him. The oracle then says that

he will have tomorrow during the day ? at the altar

from his bride further some further

revelations bearing on his duty.

Finally the oracle announces that

his its function has been so far received

for the last time that it may be

compelled to denounce its fellow

powers of paganism, but that now

its voice is silent for ever. At the end of

the bride's maidens come to meet her &

find her bewildered

& in tears but cannot

learn the cause from her.

Scene 4.

The Prince soliloquizing the hour before

his nuptials. He refers to the events

of the past night scene, and but in spite

of his misgivings resolves to make

no delay with his marriage unless

further events occur to prevent it.

The nuptial cortège then assembles

and he is about to accompany them

to the altar when his bride's father

accompanied by the bride

demands a private audience.

This being granted, he informs the
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Added TextHe had told her how by his means the Prince had been preserved

in infancy; had reproached her with her silence as to the charge she had received

and had told her that if she did not now

make known to her husband the will of

Heaven, some fatal mischance would

soon separate them for ever. All this she now

tells him with many tears and with bitter

upbraidings of the cruel fate which compelled

her to avoid certain disaster/miserythe

certain wrath threatened to him by sending

him on a mission of such terrible uncertainty.

Before telling all this she had consented to

speak only on his promising to the f grant

the first favour she should afterwards ask

for herself; and she now tells him that

this favour is the permission to accompany

him on his voyage. He endeavours in

vain to dissuade her from this, & at last

consents to it. He tells her at the same time

of his own interview/conference with the Oracle,
Deleted Text His father had been permitted to

succumb to them in order that the

fate of their first Christian victim might be

signalized by drawing down on them at

last their own destruction
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Deleted Texthis Bride, accompanied by her father,

demands a private audience.

The father first informs the Prince

of the particulars of his parents'

death, as learnt from the Hermit, & then bids his daughter

speak. She then relates that she

had a dream last night in which

she was visited by the Spirit of

the Hermit now a saint in Heaven,

who annlounced that it was the

heavenly will that the Prince should

only wed if he survived the vengeance

due for his parents' death, but

that he had been chosen now to

fulfil the doom of the Sirens & must

at once accomplish his mission.

Not even spiritual foreknowledge

could certify beforehand whether

his life would be sacrificed in

this sacred act, but if so, he

& his Bride would renew their

love in Paradise. The Bride ends
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by declaring her resignation to the will

of God, and her determination, in

which her father dies, to accompany

the Prince on his terrible voyage.
Act 3

Scene I.

The hermitage near the Sirens' Rock

as in Act I. Arrival of the Prince

accompanied by his Bride & her father,

who propose is prevailed on by him to remain in prayer at the

hermitage while he pursues his journey

to the rock. Before they part, a paper

is found written, by which they learn

that the Hermit had died there a

year & a day before, and that he named the day

of their present arrival
Deleted Textwas the

as the one on which the appointed purpose of his hermitage

would cease, and yet when it would

would again be tenanted, and yet

on which its appointed use would cease.
Scene 2

The Sirens' Rock. The Sirens have

been warned by the evil powers to

whom they are tributary that this
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day is a signal one for them. They

are uncertain whether for good or

ill, but are possessed by a spirit of

baneful exultation, and in their

songs alternate from one to the

other wild tales of their triumphs

in past times and the renowned

victims who have succumbed to them.

As they reach the name of the

Christian Prince and his wife who

died by their means, a
Deleted Textfigure is seen

as cednding the rock
vessel comes in

view, but almost before their

songs have been directed towards

it, they are surprised to see
Deleted Textthe

itit make straight for the

rock, and the occupant resolutely

disembark & commence the ascent.

As he nears them, Ligeia gradually

they exchange scornful prophecies

of his ruin between the pauses of

their song; but gradually Ligeia,
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who has at first begged him of her

sisters as her special prey, finds herself

strangely overpowered by emotions

she does not understand, & by the

time he reaches the summit of the

rock & stands before them, she is

alternately beseeching him for

his love & her sisters for his life.

A long chorus here occurs: Ligeia

yielding to the agony of her passion,

while the Prince repulses and reviles

her, and the other Sirens wail and

curse, warning her of the impending

doom. The Prince tells Ligeia of his

parentage & mission, but she still

madly craves for his love, and holds

forth to him such promises of

infernal sovereignty as her gods

afford, if he will yield to her passion.

He, meanwhile, though proof against

her wiles lures and loathing her in his

heart, is physically absorbed into
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the death-agony of the expiring ? spell;

? and when, at

his last word of reprobation, the

curse seizes her& her sisters &

they dash themselves headlong from

the rock, he also succumbs to the

doom, calling with his last breath

on the name of his Bride to come to him. Throughout

the scene the prayers of the

bride and her father are fitfully

wafted from the hermitage

between the pauses of the Sirens'

songs and the deadly chorus

of love and hate.
Deleted TextScene 3.

Within the hermitage. At the moment

of the Prince's death, the Bride & her

father, still praying, are aware of

the spirit of the Hermit present

with them, who announces to them

the accomplishment of the doom

and the return of his [?]
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In case of representation—supposing the hermitage

and rock to be visible on the stage at the

same time—the conclusion might be that

at the moment of the Prince's death,

when he calls to his Bride, she breaks off her prayers; answering

him in the same words, & dies. Scene

3 would thus be dispensed with.

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to him in Heaven. He also tells the

Bride that in a year and a day from

that time she shall rejoin her lover,

whose love shall yet be to her tenfold

all that she had hoped for on earth.

Scene 3.

Within the hermitage, the Bride
Deleted Text& her

still praying but her father ? a moment before ? . The scene to commence

with a few lines of prayer, after which

the Spirit of the Prince suddenly

appears, calling the Bride to come to him

in the same words with which the

last scene ended. She then discourses

with to him, saying many things in gradually

increasing ecstasy of love, he all

the time speaking to her at intervals

only the same words as before.

She ends by answering him in the his

same own words, calling him to come

to her, & so dies. The scene might

conclude by the appearance of the

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