Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription
Document Title: Algernon Stanhope. Sacred to the Memory of Algernon R.G. Stanhope (natus est
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of Composition: 1847 (September)
Type of Manuscript: autograph fair copy
full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.
Note: Bookplate with standing female angel blowing trumpet and seated female
angel. Between the two figures is a flowing banner on which is inscribed
the owner's name. Below the figures and the ower's name is an inscribed
- BOOKS BRING ME FRIENDS
- WHERE'ER ON EARTH I BE.
- SOLACE OF SOLITUDE&
- BONDS OF SOCIETY!
- “The silver cord is loosed,” he said,
- “The golden bowl is broken;
- A few more prayers having been prayed,
- A few more love-words spoken
- I shall turn my face unto the wall,
- And sleeping, not be woken.
- “Yet a short while, mamma, —dear friends,
- Yet but a little space, —
- And the shadows will have shut me in
10That gather round my face.
- But do not therefore weep; I go
- To Heaven, a better place.”
- Is it a better place, my child,
- That thou art gone unto?
- Upon this earth that thou hast left
- Hadst thou not much to do?
- Would not thy joys have been a crowd
- And thy troubles small and few?
- Hadst thou not wealth, and are there not
20Those who do lack for bread,
- Who would have looked to thee, their hope,
- To be taught and comforted? —
- And the naked to be clothed by thee,
- And the hungry to be fed.
- Hadst thou not friends, and were they not
- Those friends who love us most
- I'the world? And would'st thou not have borne
- A name which is the boast
- Not of thy house alone, but all
30England from coast to coast?
- And beauty too was thine: thou hadst
- The look that Angels have
- Who from their Heaven behold our earth
- Where Grief is and the Grave,
- And joy in the many souls there are
- For them to help and save.
- And many thou hast helped, dear child,
- And savèd, verily;
- Thy spirit was a Temple for
- Yea, the loud prayers of he rescued poor
- Have often followed thee.
- And Genius lit within thy breast
- An upward flame and strong; —
- Genius, begetting Poesy,
- Whose hoard of hidden song,
- Lying at thy warm heart, would soon
- Have risen to thy tongue.
- Beauty, and rank, and friends, and wealth,
50Genius and excellence, —
- Could not all these, thy heritage,
- Win thee from hastening hence?
- Was the soul so much more unto thee
- Than joys of mind and sense?
- For nobles would have courted thee;
- Thou wouldst have seen thy name
- A star to the world; the great and wise,
- As sunshine to a gem,
- Would have been drawn to thee, —thyself
60Being as one of them.
- And, bending with an English grace,
- The ladies of our isle,
- With their soft curls and their virgin eyes
- Which look so sweet all the while,
- Had given thee for thy nobleness
- A precious golden smile.
- These will not be thine: thy life's
- Appointed period
- Being past o'er, thou liest on
70The folded pinions broad
- Of the Seraph who is bearing thee
- Up through the sun to God.
- It has a solemn sound — “to God”;
- And strange high thoughts it weaves
- Of a garden where the Tree of Life
- In mystic shadows gives,
- And the music of the rapid worlds
- Is the wind that stirs the leaves.
- Yet thou! — the brave, deep-thoughted child,
80Whom Love and Sympathy
- And Admiration gathered round
- And worshipped! — Can it be
- That there is anywhere, in truth,
- “A better place” for
- Pause awhile, cherub, in thy song;
- Let thy curl-shaded face
- Lean to us from thy heavenly seat
- With the old childish grace;
- And tell us, dearest —
Is it there,
90Truly, “a better place?”
- What have I asked? Do I so love
- Life then, and cling thereby;
- As to make all this marvel that
- The heaven-home, hushed and high,
- Should be a better place for one
- So far more pure than I?
- Surely, it
is a better place:
- Wealth shuts not there his ken
- From woes his heart yearns to assuage;
100Nor noble origin
- Wounds him by lessening trust betwixt
- Him and his fellow-men.
- Nor Genius, with sunny eyes
- Whose light sets like the sun,
- Gives to him, as to the dear child
- She chooseth for her own,
- Her laurel-wreath which maketh white
- The hair it resteth on;
- Nor friends die from him, but instead
110Come to him where he is;
- Nor Passion, rank with evil joys
- And worse satieties,
- Pouting her crimson lips at him
- Layeth her cheek to his;
- Nor priests be there, like a bad dream
- That at your bed's foot stands
- All night (and yet it goes at last!)
- Nor moans of king-curst lands
- Make his breast heave and his pale brow
120To drop into his hands.
- But Love walks always with him now;
- And Faith, not chained but free;
- And Hope, bent forward, and with hair
- Held back continually
- To hear the chariot-wheels;
- And wise, calm Charity.
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