Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: The Bodleian Notebook (“Kelmscott Love Sonnets”)
Author: DGR
Date of Composition: 1874
Type of Manuscript: fair copy with corrections
Scribe: DGR

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

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Note: This text is written on the first page of the book, which is a kind of inner cover made of stiff paper, cream colored.
This album, and another of similar shape

containing the original form of the long poem

Rose Mary, now in the British Museum, was

written for Mrs. William Morris by Rossetti,

and preserved at Kelmscott Manor. It was

presented to the Bodleian Library, together

with a number of sonnets on single leaves,

in Rossetti's hand and sent to Mrs. William

Morris, by me as library executor of her

daughter Miss May Morris.

Robert Steele
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Note: Blank page.
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Heart's Hope.

  • By what word's power, the key of paths untrod,
  • Shall I the difficult deeps of Love explore,
  • Till parted waves of song yield up the shore
  • Even as that sea which Israel crossed dryshod?
  • For lo! in some poor rhythmic period,
  • Lady, I fain would tell how evermore
  • Thy soul I know not from thy body, nor
  • Thee from myself, neither our Love from God.
  • Yea, in God's name, and Love's, and thine, would I
  • 10 Draw from one loving heart such evidence
  • As to all hearts all things shall signify;
  • Tender as dawn's first hill-fire, and intense
  • As instantaneous penetrating sense,
  • In Spring's birth-hour, of other Springs gone by.
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Love Enthroned.

  • I marked all kindred Powers the heart finds fair:—
  • Truth, with awed lips; and Hope, with eyes upcast;
  • And Fame, whose loud wings fan the ashen past
  • To signal-fires, Oblivion's flight to scare;
  • And Youth, with some bright spray of woman's hair
  • Yet to his shoulder clinging, since the last
  • Embrace wherein two sweet arms held him fast;
  • And Life, still wreathing flowers for Death to wear.
  • Love's throne was not with these; but far above
  • 10 All passionate wind of welcome and farewell
  • He sat in breathless bowers they dream not of;
  • Though Truth foreknow Love's heart, and Hope foretell,
  • And Fame be for Love's sake desirable,
  • And Youth be dear, and Life be sweet to Love.

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Through Death to Love.

  • Like labour-laden moonclouds faint to flee
  • From winds that sweep the winter-bitten wold,—
  • Like multiform circumfluence manifold
  • Of night's flood-tide,—like terrors that agree
  • Of hoarse-tongued fire and inarticulate sea,—
  • Even such, within some glass dimmed by our breath,
  • Our hearts discern wild images of Death,
  • Shadows and shoals that edge eternity.
  • Howbeit athwart Death's imminent shade doth soar
  • 10 One Power than flow of stream or flight of dove
  • Sweeter to glide around, to brood above.
  • Tell me, my heart,—what angel-greeted door
  • Or threshold of wing-winnowed threshing-floor
  • Hath guest fire-fledged as thine, whose lord is Love?

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Love's Fatality.

  • Sweet Love,—but oh! most dread Desire of Love
  • Life-thwarted. Linked in gyves I saw them stand,
  • Love shackled with Vain-longing, hand to hand:
  • And one was eyed as the blue vault above:
  • But hope tempestuous like a fire-cloud hove
  • I' the other's gaze, even as in his whose wand
  • Vainly all night with spell-wrought girths has spann'd
  • The unyielding caves of some deep treasure-trove.
  • Also his lips, two writhen flakes of flame,
  • 10 Made moan: “Alas O Love, thus leashed with me!
  • Wing-footed thou, wing-shouldered, once born free:
  • And I, thy cowering self, in chains grown tame,—
  • Bound to thy body and soul, named with thy name,—
  • Life's iron heart, even Love's Fatality.”

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Hope Overtaken.

  • I deemed thy garments, O my Hope, were grey,
  • So far I viewed thee. Now the space between
  • Is passed at length; and garmented in green
  • Even as in days of yore thou standst to-day.
  • Ah God! and but for lingering dull dismay,
  • On all that road our footsteps erst had been
  • Even thus commingled, and our shadows seen
  • Blent on the hedgerows and the water-way.
  • O Hope of mine whose eyes are living love,
  • 10 No eyes but hers,—O Love and Hope the same!—
  • Lean close to me, for now the sinking sun
  • That warmed our feet scarce gilds our hair above.
  • O hers thy lips and very hers thy name!
  • Alas, cling round me, for the day is done!

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My Lady's Gifts.

  • High grace, the dower of queens; and therewithal
  • Some wood-born wonder's sweet simplicity;
  • A glance like water brimming with the sky
  • Or hyacinth-light where forest-shadows fall;
  • Such thrilling pallor of cheek as doth enthral
  • The heart; a mouth whose passionate forms imply
  • All music and all silence held thereby;
  • Deep locks, the brow's embowering coronal;
  • A round reared neck, meet column of Love's shrine,
  • 10 To cling to when the heart takes sanctuary;
  • Hands which for ever at Love's bidding be,
  • And soft-stirred feet still answering to his sign:—
  • These are her gifts, as tongue may tell them o'er.
  • Breathe low her name, my soul; for that saith more.

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Genius in Beauty.

  • Beauty like hers is genius. Not the call
  • Of Homer's or of Dante's heart sublime,—
  • Not Michael's hand furrowing the zones of time,—
  • Is more with compassed mysteries musical;
  • Nay, not in Spring's or Summer's sweet footfall
  • More gathered gifts exuberant Life bequeaths
  • Than doth this sovereign face, whose love-spell breathes
  • Even from its shadowed contour on the wall.
  • As many men are poets in their youth,
  • 10 But for one sweet-strung soul the wires prolong
  • Even through all change the indomitable song;
  • So in likewise the envenomed years, whose tooth
  • Rends shallower grace with ruin's worst unruth,
  • Upon this beauty's power shall wreak no wrong.

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Love's Pageant.

  • What dawn-pulse at the heart of heaven, or last
  • Incarnate flower of culminating day,—
  • What marshalled marvels on the skirts of May,
  • Or song full-quired, sweet June's encomiast;
  • What glory of change by nature's hand amassed
  • Can vie with all those moods of varying grace
  • Which o'er one loveliest woman's form and face
  • Within this hour, within this room, have passed?
  • Love's very vesture and elect disguise
  • 10 Was each fine movement,—wonder new-begot
  • Of lily or swan or swan-stemmed galiot;
  • Joy to his sight who now the sadlier sighs,
  • Parted again; and sorrow yet for eyes
  • Unborn, that read these words and saw her not.
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Between Kisses.

  • O lovely, loving, and beloved love;
  • Whose kiss seems still the first; whose summoning eyes,
  • Even now, as for our love-world's new sunrise,
  • Shed very dawn; whose voice, attuned above
  • All modulation of the deep-bowered dove,
  • Is like a hand laid softly on the soul;
  • Whose hand is like a sweet voice to control
  • Those worn tired brows it hath the keeping of:—
  • What word can answer to thy word,—what gaze
  • 10 To thine, which thus absorbs within its sphere
  • My worshipping face, till I am mirrored there
  • Grey-circled in a heaven of deep-drawn rays?
  • What clasp, what kiss mine inmost heart can prove,
  • O lovely, loving, and beloved love?

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Threefold Homage.

  • Was I most born to paint your soverign face,
  • Or most to sing it, or most to love it, dear?
  • Full sweet the hope that unborn eye and ear
  • Through me may guess the secret of your grace.
  • Yet ah! 'neath every picture might I trace,
  • And write beside each song, — “Let none think here
  • To breathe indeed this beauty's atmosphere,
  • To apprehend this body and soul's embrace.”
  • Faint shadow of you at best I weave; except
  • 10That innermost image all unseen, which still
  • Proves me at heart your beauty's crowned adept.
  • Yet was this nought, our hope's high day to fill, —
  • That o'er us, while we kissed, with answering thrill,
  • Two Muses held Love's hands, and smiled, and wept?

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The Dark Glass.

  • Not I myself know all my love for thee:
  • How should I reach so far, who cannot weigh
  • To-morrow's dower by gage of yesterday?
  • Shall birth, and death, and all dark voids that be
  • As doors and windows bared to some loud sea,
  • Lash deaf mine ears and blind my face with spray;
  • And shall my sense pierce love,—the last relay
  • And ultimate outpost of eternity?
  • Lo! what am I to Love, the Lord of all?
  • 10 One murmuring shell he gathers from the sand,—
  • One little heart-flame sheltered in his hand.
  • Yet through thine eyes he grants me clearest call
  • And veriest touch of powers primordial
  • That any hour-girt life may understand.

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Love's Compass.

  • Sometimes thou seem'st not as thyself alone,
  • But as the meaning of all things that are;
  • A breathless wonder, shadowing forth afar
  • Some heavenly solstice hushed and halcyon;
  • Whose unstirred lips are music's visible tone;
  • Whose eyes the sun-gate of the soul unbar,
  • Being of its furthest fires oracular;—
  • The evident heart of all life sown and mown.
  • Even such Love is; and is not thy name Love?
  • 10 Yea, by thy hand the Love-god rends apart
  • All gathering clouds of Night's ambiguous art;
  • Flings them far down, and sets thine eyes above;
  • And simply, as some gage of flower or glove,
  • Stakes with a smile the world against thy heart.

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  • What other woman could be loved like you,
  • Or how of you should love possess his fill?
  • After the fulness of all rapture, still,—
  • As at the end of some deep avenue
  • A tender glamour of day,—there comes to view
  • Far in your eyes a yet more hungering thrill,—
  • Such fire as Love's soul-winnowing hands distil
  • Even from his inmost ark of light and dew.
  • And as the traveller triumphs with the sun,
  • 10 Glorying in heat's mid-height, yet startide brings
  • Wonder new-born, and still fresh transport springs
  • From limpid lambent hours of day begun;—
  • Even so, within your arms, your soul doth move
  • My soul with changeful light of infinite love.

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  • Not by one measure may'st thou mete our love;
  • For how should I be loved as I love thee?—
  • I, graceless, joyless, lacking absolutely
  • All gifts that with thy queenship best behove;—
  • Thou, throned in every heart's elect alcove,
  • And crowned with garlands culled from every tree,
  • Which for no head but thine, by Love's decree,
  • All beauties and all mysteries interwove.
  • But here thine eyes and lips yield soft rebuke:—
  • 10“Then only” (sayst thou) “could I love thee less,
  • When thou couldst doubt my love's equality.”
  • Peace, sweet! If not to sum but worth we look,—
  • Thy heart's transcendence, not my heart's excess,—
  • Then more a thousandfold thou lov'st than I.

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Heart's Haven.

  • Sometimes she is a child within mine arms,
  • Cowering beneath dark wings that love must chase;
  • With still tears showering and averted face,
  • Inexplicably filled with faint alarms:
  • And oft from mine own spirit's hurtling harms
  • I crave the refuge of her deep embrace,—
  • Against all ill the fortified strong place
  • And sweet reserve of sovereign countercharms.
  • And Love, our light at night and shade at noon,
  • 10 Lulls me to rest with songs, and turns away
  • All shafts of shelterless tumultuous day.
  • Like the moon's growth, his face gleams through his tune;
  • And as soft waters warble to the moon,
  • Our answering kisses chime one roundelay.

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Without Her.

  • What of her glass without her? The blank grey
  • There where the pool is blind of the moon's face.
  • Her dress without her? The tossed empty space
  • Of cloud-rack whence the moon has passed away.
  • Her paths without her? Day's appointed sway
  • Usurped by desolate night. Her pillowed place
  • Without her? Tears, ah me! for love's good grace,
  • And cold forgetfulness of night or day.
  • What of the heart without her? Nay, poor heart,
  • 10 Of thee what word remains ere speech be still?
  • A wayfarer by barren ways and chill,
  • Steep ways and weary, without her thou art,
  • Where the long cloud, the long wood's counterpart,
  • Sheds doubled darkness on the labouring hill.

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Love's Antiphony.

  • “I love you, sweet: how can you ever learn
  • How much I love you?” “You I love even so,
  • And so I learn it.” “Sweet, you cannot know
  • How fair you are.” “If fair enough to earn
  • Your love, so much is all my love's concern.”
  • “My love grows hourly, sweet.” “Mine too doth grow;
  • Yet love seemed full so many hours ago.”
  • Thus lovers speak, till kisses claim their turn.
  • Shame on his heart to whom such words as these
  • 10Seem not enough of speech the whole day long,
  • Hour after hour, remote from the world's throng,
  • Work, friendship, fame, all life's confederate pleas,—
  • What while Love breathes in sighs and silences
  • Through two blent souls one rapturous undersong.

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The Lovers' Walk.

  • Sweet twining hedgeflowers wind-stirred in no wise
  • On this June day; and hand that clings in hand:—
  • Still glades; and meeting faces scarcely fann'd:—
  • An osier-odoured stream that draws the skies
  • Deep to its heart; and mirrored eyes in eyes:—
  • Fresh hourly wonder o'er the Summer land
  • Of light and cloud; and two souls softly spann'd
  • With one o'erarching heaven of smiles and sighs:—
  • Even such their path, whose bodies lean unto
  • 10 Each other's visible sweetness amorously,—
  • Whose passionate hearts lean by Love's high decree
  • Together on his heart for ever true,
  • As the white-foaming firmamental blue
  • Rests on the blue line of a foamless sea.

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The Moonstar.

  • Lady, I thank thee for thy loveliness,
  • Because my lady is more lovely still.
  • Glorying I gaze, and yield with glad goodwill
  • To thee thy tribute; by whose sweet-spun dress
  • Of delicate life Love labours to assess
  • My lady's absolute queendom; saying, “Lo!
  • How high this beauty is, which yet doth show
  • But as that beauty's sovereign votaress.”
  • Lady, I saw thee with her, side by side;
  • 10 And as, when night's fair fires their queen surround,
  • An emulous star too near the moon will ride,—
  • Even so thy rays within her luminous bound
  • Were traced no more; and by the light so drown'd,
  • Lady, not thou but she was glorified.

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Love and Hope.

  • Kiss once again. Full many a withered year
  • Whirled past us, eddying to its chill doomsday;
  • And clasped together where the blown leaves lay,
  • We long have knelt and wept full many a tear.
  • Yet lo! one hour at last, the Spring's compeer,
  • Flutes softly to us from some green byway:
  • Those years, those tears are dead, but only they:
  • Kiss once again, my love; for we are here.
  • Cling heart to heart; nor of this hour demand
  • 10 Whether in very truth, when we are dead,
  • Our hearts shall wake to know Love's golden head
  • Sole sunshine of the imperishable land;
  • Or but discern, through night's unfeatured scope,
  • Scorn-fired at length the illusive eyes of Hope.

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At Last.

  • Fate claimed hard toll from Love, and did not spare:
  • Are the dues paid, and is all Love's at last?
  • Cling round me, sacred sweetness,—hold me fast,—
  • Oh! as I kneel, enfold mine eyes even there
  • Within thy breast; and to Love's deepest lair
  • Of memory bid thy soul with mine retreat
  • And let our past years and our future meet
  • In the warm darkness underneath thine hair.
  • Say once for all: “Me Love accepts, and thee:
  • 10Nor takes he other count of bygone years
  • Not his, than do the affranchised earth and sea
  • Of hours wherein the unyoked inordinate spheres
  • Hurtled tumultuous round Time's ringing ears
  • Ere yet one word gave light to victory.

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Cloud and Wind.

  • Love, should I fear death most for you or me?
  • Yet if you die, can I not follow you,
  • Forcing the straits of change? Alas! but who
  • Shall wrest a bond from night's inveteracy,
  • Ere yet my hazardous soul put forth, to be
  • Her warrant against all her haste might rue?—
  • Ah! in your eyes so reached what dumb adieu,
  • What unsunned gyres of waste eternity?
  • And if I die the first, shall death be then
  • 10 A lampless watchtower whence I see you weep?—
  • Or (woe is me!) a bed wherein my sleep
  • Ne'er notes (as death's dear cup at last you drain,)
  • The hour when you too learn that all is vain
  • And that Hope sows what Love shall never reap?

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Spring Tribute.

  • On this sweet bank your head thrice sweet and dear
  • I lay, and spread your hair on either side,
  • And see the newborn woodflowers bashful-eyed
  • Look through the rippling tresses here and there.
  • On these debateable borders of the year
  • Spring's foot half falters; scarce her glance may know
  • The leafless blackthorn-blossom from the snow;
  • And through her bowers the wind's way still is clear.
  • But April's sun strikes down the glades to-day;
  • 10 So shut your eyes upturned, and feel my kiss
  • Creep, as the Spring now thrills through every spray,
  • Up your warm throat to your warm lips: for this
  • Is even the hour of Love's sworn suitservice,
  • With whom cold hearts are counted castaway.

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Venus Victrix.

  • Could Juno's self more heavenly presence wear
  • Than thou, 'mid other ladies throned in grace?—
  • Or Pallas, when thou bendst with soul-stilled face
  • O'er poet's page deep-shadowed in thy hair?
  • Dost thou than Venus seem less heavenly fair,
  • When from the sea of love's insatiate bliss
  • Thy breast is reared, to yield to the last kiss
  • Thy sweet lips like the last wave murmuring there?
  • Before such triune loveliness divine
  • 10 Awestruck I ask, which goddess here most claims
  • The prize that, howsoe'er adjudged, is thine?
  • Then Love breathes low the sweetest of thy names;
  • And Venus Victrix to mine arms doth bring
  • Herself, the Helen of her guerdoning.

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The Love-Lamp.

  • Sometimes I fain would find in thee some fault,
  • That I might love thee still in spite of it:
  • Yet how should our Lord Love curtail one whit
  • Thy perfect praise whom most he would exalt?
  • Alas! he can but make my heart's low vault
  • Even in men's sight unworthier, being lit
  • By thee, who thereby showst more exquisite
  • Like fiery chrysoprase in deep basalt.
  • Yet will I nowise shrink; but at Love's shrine
  • 10 Myself within the beams his brow doth dart
  • Will set the flashing jewel of thy heart
  • In that dull chamber where it deigns to shine:
  • For lo! in honour of thine excellencies
  • My heart takes pride to show how poor it is.

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Disìo e Compenso.

(Due Sonetti)

  • O bocca che nell' ora del disìo
  • Tante volte guardai e tenni pace,—
  • Che i tanti spirti dell' occio tenace
  • Baciar tutt' ora, e mai il labbro mio!—
  • Ahi da te, bocca, che piacer vogl' io,
  • O che speranza che non sia fallace?
  • Qual tuo sorriso, dimmi sè ti piace,
  • E quai parole, per l'amor di Dio?
  • Deh povera speranza! e come vuoi
  • 10Raggiungere il piacer, con ali avorte,
  • Alle gemelle sorridenti porte?
  • Ogni parola che verebbe poi
  • Più amorosa ahi più sarìa per noi
  • Radice del silenzio della morte!

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  • O bocca che nell' ora del compenso
  • Tante volte baciai, e tante volte
  • Sentii da te, con mille voti accolte,
  • Quella parola d'immortal consenso:—
  • Deh possa dei tuoi baci il sacro incenso
  • Ravvolger sempre in nuvole più folte
  • Le antiche tante omai larve sepolte,
  • Empiendo il ciel del nostro amore immenso!
  • Vieni, beata bocca, O vieni ancora!
  • 10Lungi pensando a te, l'amore disìa
  • Dolce rugiada in tua rosata via.
  • Non sei tu quella in cui ora ed ogn' ora
  • Io vivo sol,— cui sol nell' alma mia
  • Mercede invita Amore, e Amore adora?

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Parted Presence.

  • Your eyes are afar to-day,
  • Yet, love, look now in mine eyes.
  • Two hearts sent forth may despise
  • All dead things by the way.
  • All between is decay,
  • Dead hours and this hour that dies.
  • O love, look deep in mine eyes!
  • Your hands to-day are not here,
  • Yet lay them, love, in my hands.
  • 10 The hourglass sheds its sands
  • All day for the dead hours' bier;
  • But now, as two hearts draw near,
  • This hour like a flower expands.
  • O love, your hands in my hands!
  • To-day your lips are afar,
  • Yet press my lips to them, love!
  • Around, beneath, and above,
  • Is frost to bind and to bar;
  • But where I am and you are,
  • 20 Desire and the fire thereof.
  • O kiss me, kiss me, my love!
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  • Your heart is never away,
  • But ever with mine, for ever,
  • For ever without endeavour,
  • To-morrow, love, as to-day;
  • Two blent hearts never astray,
  • Two souls no power may sever,
  • Together, O my love, for ever!

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The Water Willow.

  • Leaves and rain and the days of the year,
  • ( Water-willow and wellaway)
  • All these fall, and my soul gives ear,
  • And she is hence who once was here.
  • ( With a wind blown night and day.)
  • Ah! but now, for a secret sign,
  • ( The willow's wan & the water white,)
  • In the held breath of the day's decline
  • Her very lips seem pressed to mine.
  • 10 ( With a wind blown day & night.)
  • O love, of my death my life is fain,
  • ( The willows wave on the waterway,)
  • Your mouth and mine are cold in the rain,
  • But warm they'll be when they meet again.
  • ( With a wind blown night and day.)
  • Mists are heaved and cover the sky,
  • ( The willows wail in the waning light,)
  • O part your lips, leave space for a sigh,—
  • They seal my soul, I cannot die.
  • 20 ( With a wind blown day and night.)
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  • Leaves and rain and the days of the year,
  • ( Water-willow and wellaway,)
  • All still fall, and I still give ear,
  • And she is hence, and I am here.
  • ( With a wind blown night and day.)

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Between Meetings.

  • Two separate divided silences,
  • Which, brought together, would find loving voice;
  • Two glances which together would rejoice
  • In love, now lost like stars beyond the trees;
  • Two hands apart whose touch alone gives ease;
  • Two mouths which, as two fire-flakes of one flame,
  • Would, meeting in one kiss, be made the same;
  • Two souls, the shores wave-mocked of sundering seas:—
  • Such are we now; yet may our hope forecast
  • 10 Haply one hour again, when on this stream
  • Of darkened love once more the light shall gleam:
  • An hour how slow to come, how quickly past,—
  • Which blooms and fades, and only leaves at last,
  • Faint as dead flowers, the attenuated dream.

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Transcribed Note (page [35]):
Note: blank page
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Transcribed Note (page [36]):
Note: blank page
Manuscript Addition: 81 leaves
Editorial Description: Someone, probably from the Bodleian Library, has written "81 leaves" on this page.
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Note: The following poems are copied by DGR from the back of the notebook toward the front. DGR clearly turned the book over and around and treated what was the end of the book (from the point of view of the previous section) as the beginning of another book or group of poems. The sequence is here given as they were copied by DGR, the pages progressing from the right to the left.
The Cloud Confines.

  • The day is dark and the night
  • To him that would search their heart;
  • No lips of cloud that will part
  • Nor morning song in the light:
  • Only, gazing alone,
  • To him wild shadows are shown,
  • Deep under deep unknown
  • And height above unknown height.
  • Still we say as we go,—
  • 10“Strange to think by the way,
  • Whatever there is to know,
  • That shall we know one day.”
  • The Past is over and fled;
  • Named new, we name it the old;
  • Thereof some tale hath been told
  • But no word comes from the dead;
  • Whether at all they be,
  • Or whether as bond or free,
  • Or whether they too were we,
  • 20Or by what spell they have sped.
  • Still we say as we go,—
  • “Strange to think by the way,
  • Whatever there is to know,
  • That shall we know one day.”
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  • What of the heart of hate
  • That beats in thy breast, O Time?—
  • Red strife from the furthest prime,
  • And anguish of fierce debate;
  • War that shatters her slain,
  • 30And Peace that grinds them as grain,
  • And eyes fixed ever in vain
  • On the pitiless eyes of Fate.
  • Still we say as we go,—
  • “Strange to think by the way,
  • Whatever there is to know,
  • That shall we know one day.”
  • What of the heart of love
  • That bleeds in thy breast, O Man?—
  • Thy kisses snatched 'neath the ban
  • 40Of fangs that mock them above;
  • Thy bells prolonged unto knells,
  • Thy hope that a breath dispels,
  • Thy bitter forlorn farewells
  • And the empty echoes thereof?
  • Still we say as we go,—
  • “Strange to think by the way,
  • Whatever there is to know,
  • That shall we know one day.”
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  • The Present is but one coil
  • 50Of a snake wherewith we strive;
  • It clings to all things alive,
  • But drops them dead to the soil:
  • And yet it keeps as it goes
  • Some print of our moulding throes,
  • Some change from the vanished foes
  • Whose crown it wears for a spoil.
  • Still we say as we go,—
  • “Strange to think by the way,
  • Whatever there is to know,
  • 60That shall we know one day.”
  • Even as we writhe and strain,
  • The Future is onward rolled
  • In the snake's course, fold on fold:
  • Yet ah! do we 'scape the chain?
  • Or shall not each life forth-hurl'd
  • Again in new flesh be furl'd,
  • And what we made of the world
  • Fall back on ourselves again?
  • Still we say as we go,—
  • 70“Strange to think by the way,
  • Whatever there is to know,
  • That shall we know one day.”
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  • The sky leans dumb on the sea,
  • Aweary with all its wings;
  • And oh! the song the sea sings
  • Is dark everlastingly.
  • Our past is clean forgot,
  • Our present is and is not,
  • Our future's a sealed seedplot,
  • 80And what betwixt them are we?
  • What words to say as we go?
  • What thoughts to think by the way?
  • What truth may there be to know,
  • And shall we know it one day?

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Sunset Wings.

  • To-night this sunset spreads two golden wings
  • Cleaving the western sky;
  • Winged too with wind it is, and winnowings
  • Of birds; as if the day's last hour in rings
  • Of strenuous flight must die.
  • Sun-steeped in fire, the homeward pinions sway
  • Above the dovecote-tops;
  • And clouds of starlings, ere they rest with day,
  • Sink, clamorous like mill-waters, at wild play,
  • 10By turns in every copse.
  • Each tree heart-deep the wrangling rout receives,—
  • Save for the whirr within,
  • You could not tell the starlings from the leaves;
  • Then one great puff of wings, and the swarm heaves
  • Away with all its din.
  • Even thus Hope's hours, in ever-eddying flight,
  • To many a refuge tend;
  • With the first light she laughed, and the last light
  • Glows round her still; who natheless in the night
  • 20At length must make an end.
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  • And now the mustering rooks innumerable
  • Together sail and soar,
  • While for the day's death, like a tolling knell,
  • Unto the heart they seem to cry, Farewell,
  • No more, farewell, no more!
  • Is Hope not plumed, as 'twere a fiery dart?
  • Therefore, O dying day,
  • Even as thou goest must she too depart,
  • And Sorrow fold such pinions on the heart
  • 30As will not fly away?

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  • Let no man ask you of anything
  • Not yearborn between Spring and Spring.
  • More of all worlds that he can know,
  • Each day the single sun doth show;
  • A trustier gloss than thou can give
  • From all wise scrolls demonstrative,
  • The sea doth sigh and the wind sing.
  • Let no lord awe you on any height
  • Of earthly kingship's mouldering might.
  • 10The dust his heel holds meet for your brow
  • Hath all of it been what both are now;
  • And he and you may plague together
  • A beggar's eyes in some dusty weather
  • When none that is now knows sound or sight.
  • Let no priest tell you of any home
  • Unseen above the sky's blue dome.
  • To have played in childhood by the sea,
  • Or to have been young in Italy,
  • Or anywhere in the sun or rain
  • 20To have loved and been beloved again,
  • Is nearer Heaven than he can come.

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Gioventù e Signorìa.

  • È giovine il signore,
  • Ed ama molte cose,—
  • I canti, le rose,
  • La forza e l'amore.
  • Quel che più vuole
  • Ancor non osa:
  • Ahi più che il sole,
  • Più ch' ogni rosa,
  • La cara cosa,
  • 10Donna a gioire.
  • È giovine il signore,
  • Ed ama quelle cose
  • Che ardor dispose
  • In cuore all' amore.
  • Bella fanciulla,
  • Guardalo in viso;
  • Non mancar nulla,
  • Motto o sorriso;
  • Ma viso a viso,
  • 20Guarda a gradire.
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  • È giovine il Signore,
  • Ed ama tutte cose,
  • Vezzose, gioiose,
  • Tenenti all' amore.
  • Prendilo in braccio
  • Adesso o mai;
  • Per più mi taccio,
  • Che tu lo sai;
  • Bacialo e l'avrai,
  • 30Ma non lo dire.
  • È giovine il signore,
  • Ed ama ben le cose
  • Che Amor nascose,
  • Che mostragli Amore.
  • Deh trionfando
  • Non farne pruova;
  • Ahime! che quando
  • Gioja più giova,
  • Allor si trova
  • 40Presso al finire.
  • È giovine il signore,
  • Ed ama tante cose,
  • Le rose, le spose,
  • Quante gli dona Amore.

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Youth and Lordship

  • My young lord's the lover
  • Of earth and sky above,
  • Of youth's sway and youth's play,
  • Of songs and flowers and love.
  • Yet for love's desire
  • Green youth lacks the daring;
  • Though one dream of fire,
  • All his hours ensnaring,
  • Burns the boy past bearing,—
  • 10 A girl to his desire.
  • My young lord's the lover
  • Of every burning thought
  • That Love's will, that Love's skill
  • Within his breast has wrought.
  • Lovely girl, look on him
  • Soft as music's measure;
  • Yield him, when you've won him,
  • Joys and toys at pleasure;
  • But to win your treasure,
  • 20 Softly look upon him.
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  • My young lord's the lover
  • Of every tender grace
  • That woman, to woo man,
  • Can wear in form or face.
  • Take him to your bosom
  • Now, girl, or never;
  • Let not your new blossom
  • Of sweet kisses sever;
  • Only guard for ever
  • 30 Your boast within your bosom.
  • My young lord's the lover
  • Of every secret thing,
  • Love-hidden, love-bidden
  • This day to banqueting.
  • Lovely girl, with vaunting
  • Never tempt tomorrow:
  • From all shapes enchanting
  • Any joy can borrow,
  • Still the spectre Sorrow
  • 40 Rises up for haunting.
  • And now my lord's the lover
  • Of ah! so many a sweet,—
  • Of roses, of spouses,
  • As many as love may greet.

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Down Stream

  • Between Holmscote and Hurstcote
  • The river-reaches wind,
  • The whispering trees accept the breeze,
  • The ripple's cool and kind:
  • With love low-whispered 'twixt the shores,
  • With rippling laughters gay,
  • With white arms bared to ply the oars,
  • On last year's first of May.
  • Between Holmscote and Hurstcote
  • 10 The river's brimmed with rain,
  • Through close-met banks and parted banks
  • Now near now far again:
  • With parting tears caressed to smiles,
  • With meeting promised soon,
  • With every sweet vow that beguiles,
  • On last year's first of June.
  • Between Holmscote and Hurstcote
  • The river's flecked with foam,
  • 'Neath shuddering clouds that hang in shrouds
  • 20 And lost winds wild for home:
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  • With infant wailings at the breast,
  • With homeless steps astray,
  • With wanderings shuddering tow'rds one rest,
  • On this year's first of May.
  • Between Holmscote and Hurstcote
  • The summer river flows
  • With doubled flight of moons by night
  • And lilies' deep repose:
  • With lo! beneath the moon's white stare
  • 30 A white face not the moon,
  • With lilies meshed in tangled hair,
  • On this year's first of June.
  • Between Holmscote and Hurstcote
  • A troth was given and riven,
  • From heart's trust grew one life to two,
  • Two lost lives cry to Heaven:
  • With banks spread calm to meet the sky,
  • With meadows newly mowed,
  • The harvest paths of glad July,
  • 40 The sweet school-children's road.

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A Lament.

  • Never happy any more!
  • Aye, turn the saying o'er and o'er,
  • It says but what it said before,
  • And heart and life are just as sore.
  • The wet leaves blow aslant the floor
  • In the rain through the open door.
  • No more, never more,
  • No, never more!
  • Never happy any more!
  • 10 The eyes are weary and give o'er,
  • But still the soul weeps as before.
  • And always must each one deplore
  • Each once, nor bear what others bore?
  • This is now as it was of yore.
  • No more, never more,
  • No, never more!
  • Never happy any more!
  • Is it not but a sorry lore
  • That says, “Take strength, the worst is o'er”?
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  • 20 Shall the stars seem as heretofore?
  • The day weareth more and more,—
  • While I was weeping, the day wore.
  • No more, never more,
  • No, never more!
  • Never happy any more!
  • In the cold behind the door
  • That was the dial striking four.
  • One for the past joy, of yore,—
  • Two for hope and will cast o'er,—
  • 30 One for the naked dark before.
  • No more, never more,
  • No, never more!
  • Never happy any more!
  • Put the light out, shut the door,
  • Sweep the wet leaves from the floor.
  • Even thus Fate's hand has swept her floor,—
  • Even thus Fate's hand has shut that door
  • At length which was not shut before.
  • Shall it be opened any more?
  • 40 No more, never more,
  • No, never more!

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Life the Beloved

  • As thy friend's face, in shadow of pain or dread,
  • Somewhile unto thy sight must needs have been
  • Ghastly and strange, yet never so is seen
  • In thought, but to all fortunate favour wed;
  • As thy love's death-bound features never dead
  • To memory's glass return, but contravene
  • Deciduous days, and alway keep, I ween,
  • Than all new life a livelier lovelihead:—
  • So Life herself, thy spirit's friend and love,
  • 10 Even still as Spring's authentic harbinger
  • Glows with fresh hours for hope to glorify;
  • Though pale she lay when in the winter grove
  • Her funeral-flowers were snow-flakes shed on her
  • And the red wings of frost-fire rent the sky.

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From Dawn to Noon.

  • As the child knows not if his mother's face
  • Be fair; nor of his elders yet can deem
  • What each most is; but as of hill or stream
  • At dawn, all glimmering life surrounds his place:
  • Who yet, tow'rd noon of his half-weary race,
  • Pausing awhile beneath the high sun-beam
  • And gazing steadily back,—as through a dream,
  • In things long past new features now can trace:—
  • Even so the thought that is at length fullgrown
  • 10 Turns back to note the sun-smit paths, all grey
  • And marvellous once, where first it walked alone;
  • And haply doubts, amid the unblenching day,
  • Which most or least impelled its onward way,—
  • Those unknown things or these things overknown.

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Memorial Thresholds

  • What place so strange,—though unimagined snow
  • With unimaginable fires arise
  • At the earth's end,—what passion of surprise
  • Like frost-bound fire-girt scenes of long ago?
  • Lo! this is none but I this hour; and lo!
  • This is the very place which to mine eyes
  • Those mortal hours in vain immortalize,
  • 'Mid hurrying crowds, with what alone I know.
  • City, of thine a single simple door,
  • 10 By some new power reduplicate, must be
  • Even yet my life-porch in eternity,
  • Even with one figure filled, as once of yore:
  • Or mocking winds whirl round a chaff-strown floor
  • Thee and thy years and these my words and me.

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The World's Soul.

  • As some true chief of men, bowed down with stress
  • Of life's disastrous eld, on blossoming youth
  • May gaze, and murmur with self-pity and ruth,—
  • “Might I thy fruitless treasure but possess,
  • Such blessing of mine all coming years should bless;”—
  • Then sends one sigh forth to the unknown goal,
  • And bitterly feels breathe against his soul
  • The hour swift-winged of nearer nothingness:—
  • Even so the World's grey Soul to the green World
  • 10Perchance one hour must cry: “Woe's me, for whom
  • Dread change portends the irrevocable doom,—
  • Whose heart's old fire in shadow of shame is furl'd:
  • While thou even as of yore art journeying,
  • All soulless now, yet merry with the Spring!”

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  • Per carità,
  • Mostrami Amore:
  • Mi punge il cuore,
  • Ma non si sa
  • Dove è Amore.
  • Che mi fa
  • La bella età,
  • Sè non si sa
  • Come amerà?
  • 10Ahime solingo!
  • Il cuor mi stringo!
  • Non più ramingo,
  • Per carità!
  • Per carità,
  • Mostrami il cielo:
  • Tutto e un velo,
  • E non si sa
  • Dove è il cielo.
  • Sè si sta
  • 20Così colà,
  • Non si sa
  • Sè non si va.
  • Ahime lontano!
  • Tutto è in vano!
  • Prendimi in mano,
  • Per carità!

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Copyright: The Bodleian Library, Oxford