Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription
Document Title: A Trip to Paris and Belgium [Travel Sonnets]
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of Composition: 1849 October
Type of Manuscript: fair copy
full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.
This cover note by WMR references the
in the sequence gathered in this group.
This sonnet commencing
Scarcely I think” was
printed in “
- These coins that jostle on my hand do own
- No single image: each name here & date
Denoting in man's consciousness &
in his 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
- Which says, “I France am all—
ah wholly mine/ [?]
lo, I am mine!”
- Or else the eagle that dared soar alone.
- Even as these coins, so are these lives & years
10 Mixed and bewildered; yet hath each of them
- No less its part in what is come to be
- For France. Empire, Republic, Monarchy,—
beast—more or less strongly but the ?
clamours or keeps silence in her name,
Has life—even in
And lives within the pulse that now is hers.
- Scarcely, I think; yet it indeed
- The meaning reached him, when this music rang
- Sharp through his brain, a distinct
- And he beheld these rocks and that ridged sea.
- But I believe he just leaned passively,
- And felt their hair carried across his face
- As each nymph passed him; nor gave ear to trace
- How many feet; nor bent assuredly
- His eyes from the vague fixedness of thought
10 To see the dancers. It is bitter glad
- Even unto tears. Its meaning filleth it,
- A portion of most secret life: to wit:—
- Each human pulse shall keep the sense it had
- For all, though the mind's labour run to nought.
- I waited for the train unto Versailles.
- I hung with
gamins on the bridge
- Watching the gravelled road where, ridge with ridge,
- Under black arches gleam the iron rails
- Clear in the darkness, till the darkness fails
- And they press on to light again—again
- To reach the dark. I waited for the train
- Unto Versailles; I leaned over the bridge,
- And wondered, cold and drowsy, why the knave
10 Claude is in worship; and why (sense apart)
- Rubens preferred a mustard vehicle.
- The wind veered short. I turned upon my heel
- Saying, “Correggio was a toad”; then gave
- Three dizzy yawns, and knew not of the Art.
- In a dull swiftness we are carried by
- With bodies left at sway and shaking knees.
- The wind has ceased, or is a feeble breeze
- Warm in the sun. The leaves are not yet dry
- From yesterday's dense rain. All, low and high,
- A strong green country; but, among its trees,
- Ruddy and thin with Autumn. After these
- There is the city still before the sky. x x x
- Versailles is reached. Pass we the galleries
10 And seek the gardens. A great silence here,
- Thro the long planted alleys, to the long
- Distance of water. More than tune or song,
- Silence shall grow to awe within thine eyes,
- Till thy thought swim with the blue turning sphere.
Note: DGR's prose note here refer to the sonnet, “For an Allegorical Dance of Women by Andrea Mantegna (In the Louvre” drafted on
It is necessary to
state that mention that
app would appear to have
been in the artist's mind, an allegory,
it must now
to interpret may now seek
vainly to interpret.
In the picture, two cavaliers and
a naked woman are seated in the grass
with musical instruments, while
another woman, also naked, dips a
vase into a well hard by for water.
Note: George Tupper's address is written upside-down in the upper half of the page. Below it, a faint drawing of an indoor scene
marked with perspective lines is faintly visible. One part is
marked “12 ft.”, with some lettering above, “P.D. ?”.
Geo. Tupper [?]
25 Clemont Lane
“Messieurs, le Dieu des peintres”. We felt odd;—
- 'Twas Rubens, sculptured. A mean florid church
- Was the next thing we saw,—from vane to porch
His drivel. The Museum: as we trod
- Its steps, his bust held us at bay. The clod
- Has slosh by miles along the wall within.
Poor ass!(“I say, I
somehow feel my gorge begin
- To rise.”) His chair in a glass case, by God!
- . . . To the Cathedral! Here too the vile snob
10 Has fouled in every corner. (“Wherefore brave
- Our fate? Let's
go.”) There is a monument
- We pass. “Messieurs, you tread upon the grave
- Of the great Rubens.” “Well, that's one good job!
- What time
this evening is the train for Ghent?”
- We are upon the Scheldt. We know we move
- Because there is a floating at our eyes
- Whatso they seek; and because all the things
on our outset were distinct and large
- Are smaller and much weaker, and quite grey,
- And at last gone from us. No motion else.
- We are upon the road. The thin swift moon
- Runs with the running clouds that are the sky,
- And with the running water runs—at whiles
10Weak 'neath the film and heavy growth of reeds.
- The country swims with motion. Time itself
- Is consciously beside us, and perceived.
- Our speed is such, the sparks our engine leaves
- Are burning after the whole train has passed.
- The darkness is a tumult. We tear on,
- The roll behind us and the cry before,
- Constantly, in a lull of intense speed
- And thunder. Any other sound is known
- Merely by sight. The shrubs, the trees your eye
20Scans for their growth, are far along in haze.
- The sky has lost its clouds, and lies away
- Oppressively at calm: the moon has failed:
- Our speed has set the wind against us. Now
- Our engine's heat is fiercer, and flings up
- Great glares alongside. Wind, and steam, & speed,
- And clamour, and the night. We are in Ghent.
- Ah yes, exactly so: but when a man
- Has trundled out of England into France
- And half through Belgium, always in this prance
- Of steam, and still has stuck to his first plan
- Blank verse or sonnets; and as he began
- Would end:—why, even the blankest verse may chance
- To falter in default of circumstance,
- And even the sonnet lack its mystic span.
- Trees will be trees, grass grass, pools merely pools,
10 Unto the end of time and Belgium. Points
- Of fact which Poets (very abject fools)
- Get scent of—once their epithets grown tame
- And scarce. Even to these foreign rails—my joints
- Begin to find their jolting much the same.
Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Copyright: Digital images used with permission of the Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.