Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: The Athenaeum, 1874, Part I
Author: John Francis (publisher)
Date of publication: 1874 January - 1874 June
Publisher: John Francis
Printer: Edward J. Francis
Volume: 1874, Part I
Issue: 2378

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

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  • How large that thrush looks on the bare thorn-tree!
  • A swarm of such, three little months ago,
  • Had hidden in the leaves and let none know
  • Save by the outburst of their minstrelsy.
  • A white flake here and there—a snow-lily
  • Of last night's frost—our naked flower-beds hold;
  • And for a rose-flower on the darkling mould
  • The hungry redbreast gleams. No bloom, no bee.
  • The current shudders to its ice-bound sedge:
  • 10Nipped in their bath, the stark reeds one by one
  • Flash each its clinging diamond in the sun:
  • 'Neath winds which for this Winter's sovereign pledge
  • Shall curb great king-masts to the ocean's edge
  • And leave memorial forest-kings o'erthrown.
  • Soft-littered is the new-year's lambing-fold,
  • And in the hollowed haystack at its side
  • The shepherd lies o' nights now, wakeful-eyed
  • At the ewes' travailing call through the dark cold.
  • The young rooks cheep 'mid the thick caw o' the old:
  • And near unpeopled stream-sides, on the ground,
  • By her spring-cry the moorhen's nest is found,
  • Where the drained flood-lands flaunt their marigold.
  • Chill are the gusts to which the pastures cower,
  • 10And chill the current where the young reeds stand
  • As green and close as the young wheat on land:
  • Yet here the cuckoo and the cuckoo flower
  • Plight to the heart Spring's perfect imminent hour
  • Whose breath shall soothe you like your dear one's
  • hand.
Dante G. Rossetti.

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In your late obituary notice ( Athenæum , May 16)

of Niccolò Tommaseo, a passing allusion is made to

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his earlier lyrical poetry. Any countryman of his,

looking, years ago when it appeared, into the

slender collection of these verses, must have been

struck by their not being chiefly concerned with

public events and interests; inevitably a rare ex-

ception in those dark yearning-days of the Italian

Muse. Perhaps the two translated specimens

which I offer of their delicate and romantic tone

may not be unacceptable to some of your readers.
D. G. Rossetti.
  • Even as a child that weeps,
  • Lulled by the love it keeps,
  • My grief lies back and sleeps.
  • Yes, it is Love bears up
  • My soul on his spread wings,
  • Which the days would else chafe out
  • With their infinite harassings.
  • To quicken it, he brings
  • The inward look and mild
  • 10That thy face wears, my child.
  • As in a gilded room
  • Shines 'mid the braveries
  • Some wild-flower, by the bloom
  • Of its delicate quietness
  • Recalling the forest-trees
  • In whose shadow it was,
  • And the water and the green grass:—
  • Even so, 'mid the stale loves
  • The city prisoneth,
  • 20Thou touchest me gratefully,
  • Like nature's wholesome breath:
  • Thy heart nor hardeneth
  • In pride, nor putteth on
  • Obeisance not its own.
  • Not thine the skill to shut
  • The love up in thine heart,
  • Neither to seem more tender,
  • Less tender than thou art.
  • Thou dost not hold apart
  • 30In silence when thy joys
  • Most long to find a voice.
  • Let the proud river-course,
  • That shakes its mane and champs,
  • Run between marble shores
  • By the light of many lamps,
  • While all the ooze and the damps
  • Of the city's choked-up ways
  • Make it their draining-place.
  • Rather the little stream
  • 40For me; which, hardly heard,
  • Unto the flower, its friend,
  • Whispers as with a word.
  • The timid journeying bird
  • Of the pure drink that flows
  • Takes but one drop, and goes.
  • I soothed and pitied thee: and for thy lips,—
  • A smile, a word (sure guide
  • To love that's ill to hide!)
  • Was all I had thereof.
  • Even as an orphan boy, whom, sore distress'd,
  • A gentle woman meets beside the road
  • And takes him home with her,—so to thy breast
  • Thou did'st take home my image: pure abode!
  • 'Twas but a virgin's dream. This heart bestow'd
  • 10Respect and piety
  • And friendliness on thee:
  • But it is poor in love.
  • No, I am not for thee. Thou art too new,
  • I am too old, to the old beaten way.
  • The griefs are not the same which grieve us two:
  • Thy thought and mine lie far apart to-day.
  • Less than I wish, more than I hope, alway
  • Are heart and soul in thee.
  • Thou art too much for me,
  • 20Sister, and not enough.
  • A better and a fresher heart than mine
  • Perchance may meet thee ere thy youth be told;
  • Or, cheated by the longing that is thine,
  • Waiting for life perchance thou shalt wax old.
  • Perchance the time may come when I may hold
  • It had been best for me
  • To have had thy ministry
  • On the steep path and rough.

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Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: ap4.a85.1874a.rad.xml