Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: The Athenaeum, 1852
Author: John Francis (publisher)
Date of publication: 1852
Publisher: John Francis
Printer: James Holmes
Volume: 1852

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

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page: 1147
Note: All pages containing "The Card Dealer" are formatted in three columns.
Transcription Gap: top of column one (not by DGR)

  • Ambition, Cupidité,
  • Et délicieuse Volupté,
  • Sont les sœurs de la Destinée,
  • Après la vingt-première année.
Calendrier de la Vie, 1630.
  • Could you not drink her gaze like wine?
  • Yet, though their splendour swoon
  • Into the lamplight languidly
  • As a tune into a tune,
  • Those eyes are wide and clear, as if
  • They saw the stars at noon.
  • The gold that's heaped beside her hand,
  • In truth, rich prize it were;
  • And rich the dreams that wreathe her brows
  • 10 With magic silence there;
  • And he were rich who should unwind
  • That woven golden hair.
  • Some music surely fans the sense,
  • A breath like closing plumes:
  • You know it by the spark called up
  • From her eyes' purple glooms;
  • You almost feel the instant thrill
  • Pulse through the lighted rooms.
  • And surely, where she sits, the dance
  • 20Now pants its eager heat:
  • But not more lightly or more true
  • Fall there the dancers' feet,
  • Than fall her cards upon the board
  • As 'twere a heart that beat.
  • Her fingers let them softly through,—
  • Smooth, polished, silent things;
  • And each one, as it falls, reflects,
  • In swift light-shadowings,
  • Crimson and orange, green and blue,
  • 30 The great eyes of her rings.
  • Whom plays she with?—With thee: thou lov'st
  • Those gems upon her hand.
  • With me: I search her secret will.
  • All deem her bosom grand.
  • We play together, she and we,
  • Within a vain strange land:—
  • A land without any order,
  • Whose substance is as breath;
  • Where one lying down ariseth not
  • Nor the sleeper awakeneth;
  • 40A land of darkness, as darkness itself,
  • And of the shadow of death.
  • What be her cards, you ask? Even these:—
  • The heart, that does but crave
  • More, being fed; the diamond,
  • Skilled to make base seem brave;
  • The club, for smiting in the dark;
  • The spade, to dig a grave.
  • And do you ask, what game she plays?
  • With him, 'tis lost or won;

  • Transcribed Footnote (page 1147):

    * The picture is one painted by the late Theodore von

    Holst; and represents a beautiful woman, richly dressed,

    who is sitting at a lamp-lit table, dealing out cards, with a

    peculiar fixedness of expression.

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    Note: The poem continues onto the second column starting here.
  • 50With him it is playing still; with him,
  • It is not yet begun;
  • But 'tis a game she plays with all,
  • The game of Twenty-One.
H. H. H.

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Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: ap4.a85.1852.rad.xml