Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription
Document Title: The Fortnightly Review, Volume 5
Author: Chapman and Hall (publisher)
Date of publication: 1869 January - 1869 June
Publisher: Chapman and Hall
Printer: Virtue and Co.
Volume: 5 (new series)
full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.
Transcription Gap: pages 1-252 (not by DGR)
Transcription Gap: pages 253-265 (not by DGR)
- I sat with Love upon a woodside well,
- Leaning across the water, I and he;
- Nor ever did he speak nor looked at me,
- But touched his lute wherein was audible
- The certain secret thing he had to tell:
- Only our mirrored eyes met silently
- In the low wave; and that sound came to be
- The passionate voice I knew; and my tears fell.
- And at their fall, his eyes beneath grew hers;
10And with his foot and with his wing-feathers
- He swept the spring that watered my
- Then the dark ripples spread to waving hair,
- And as I stooped, her own lips rising there
- Bubbled with brimming kisses at my mouth.
- And now Love sang: but his was such a song,
- So meshed with half-remembrance hard to free,
- As souls disused in death's sterility
- May sing when the new birthday tarries long:
- And I was made aware of a dumb throng
- That stood aloof, one form by every tree,
- All mournful forms, for each was I or she,
- The shades of those our days that had no tongue.
- They looked on us, and knew us and were known;
10 While fast together, alive from the abyss,
- Clung the soul-wrung implacable close kiss;
- And pity of self through all made broken moan
- Which said, “For once, for once, for once alone!”
- And still Love sang, and what he sang was this:—
- “O ye, all ye that walk in Willowwood,
- That walk with hollow faces burning white;
- What fathom-depth of soul-struck widowhood,
- What long, what longer hours, one lifelong night,
- Ere ye again, who so in vain have wooed
- Your last hope lost, who so in vain invite
- Your lips to that their unforgotten food,
- Ere ye, ere ye again shall see the light!
- Alas! the bitter banks in Willowwood,
10 With tear-spurge wan, with blood-wort
- Alas! if ever such a pillow could
- Steep deep the soul in sleep till she were dead,—
- Better all life forget her than this thing,
- That Willowwood should hold her wandering!”
- So sang he: and as meeting rose and rose
- Together cling through the wind's wellaway
- Nor change at once, yet near the end of day
- The leaves drop loosened where the heart-stain glows,—
- So when the song died did the kiss unclose;
- And her face fell back drowned, and was as grey
- As its grey eyes; and if it ever may
- Meet mine again I know not if Love knows.
- Only I know that I leaned low and drank
10A long draught from the water where she sank,
- Her breath and all her tears and all her soul:
- And as I drank I know I felt Love's face
- Pressed on my neck with moan of pity and grace,
- Till both our heads were in his aureole.
- Girt in dark growths, yet glimmering with one star,
- O vain night sweeter than the nights of youth!
- Why should my heart within thy spell, forsooth,
- Now beat, as the bride's finger-pulses are
- Quickened within the girdling golden bar?
- What wings are these that fan my pillow smooth?
- And why does Sleep, waved back by Joy and Ruth,
- Tread softly round and gaze at me from far?
- Nay, night! Would false Love counterfeit in thee
10 The shadowy palpitating grove that bears
- Rest for man's eyes and music for his ears?
- O lonely night! art thou not known to me,
- A thicket hung with masks of mockery
- And watered with the wasteful warmth of tears?
- As when two men have loved a woman well,
- Each hating each, through Love's and Death's deceit;
- Since not for either this strait marriage-sheet
- And the long pauses of this wedding-bell;
- Yet o'er her grave the night and day dispel
- At last their feud forlorn, with cold and heat;
- Nor other than dear friends to death may fleet
- The two lives left that most of her can tell:—
- So separate hopes, which in a soul had wooed
10 The one same Peace, strove with each other long,
- And Peace before their faces perished since:
- So through that soul, in restless brotherhood,
- They roam together now, and wind among
- Its bye-streets, knocking at the dusty inns.
- Around the vase of Life at your slow pace
- He has not crept, but turned it with his hands,
- And all its sides already understands.
- There, girt, one breathes alert for some great race;
- Whose road runs far by sands and fruitful space;
- Who laughs, yet through the jolly throng has pass'd;
- Who weeps, nor stays for weeping; who at last,
- A youth, stands somewhere still, with silent face.
- And he has filled this vase with wine for blood,
10 With blood for tears, with spice for burning vow,
- With watered flowers for buried love most fit;
- And would have cast it shattered to the flood,
- Yet in Fate's name has kept it whole; which now
- Stands empty till his ashes fall in it.
- Look in my face; my name is Might-have-been;
- I am also called No-more, Too-late, Farewell:
- Unto thine ear I hold the dead-sea shell
- Cast up thy Life's foam-fretted feet between;
- Unto thine eyes the glass where that is seen
- Which had Life's form and Love's, but by my spell
- Is now a shaken shadow intolerable,
- Of ultimate things unuttered the frail screen.
- Mark me, how still I am: but should there dart
10 One moment through thy soul the swift surprise
- Of that soft wing which lulls the breath of sighs,—
- Then shalt thou see me smile, and turn apart
- Thy visage to mine ambush at thy heart
- Sleepless with cold commemorative eyes.
Note: Typo: on page 270, in line 2 of The Landmark (Whose
wave, low down, I did not not stoop to drink,) the word
not is unnecessarily repeated.
- Each hour until we meet is as a bird
- That wings from far his gradual way along
- The rustling covert of my soul,—his song
- Still loudlier trilled through leaves more deeply stirr'd;
- But at the hour of meeting, a clear word
- Is every note he sings, in Love's own tongue;
- Yet, Love, thou know'st the sweet strain
- Through our contending kisses oft unheard.
- What of that hour at last, when for her sake
10 No wing may fly to me nor song may flow;
- When, wandering round my life unleaved, I know
- The bloodied feathers scattered in the brake,
- And think how she, far from me, with like eyes
- Sees through the untuneful bough the wingless skies?
that the landmark?
What,—the foolish well
- Whose wave, low down, I did not not stoop to drink,
- But sat and flung the pebbles from its brink
- In sport to send its imaged skies pell-mell,
- (And mine own image, had I noted well!)—
- Was that my point of turning?—I had thought
- The stations of my course should loom unsought,
- As altar-stone or ensigned citadel.
- But lo! the path is missed, I must go back,
10 And thirst to drink when next I reach the spring
- Which once I stained, which since may have grown black.
- Yet though no light be left nor bird now sing
- As here I turn, I'll thank God, hastening,
- That the same goal is still on the same track.
- The mother will not turn, who thinks she hears
- Her nursling's speech first grow articulate;
- But breathless with averted eyes elate
- She sits, with open lips and open ears,
- That it may call her twice. 'Mid doubts and fears
- Thus oft my soul has hearkened; till her song,
- A central moan for days, at length found tongue,
- And the sweet music welled and the sweet tears.
- But now, whatever while the soul is fain
10 To list that wonted murmur, as it were
- The speech-bound sea-shell's low importunate strain;
- No breath of song,—thy voice alone
- O bitterly beloved! And all her gain
- Is but the pang of unpermitted prayer.
- The lost days of my life until to-day,
- What were they, could I see them on the street
- Lie as they fell? Would they be ears of wheat
- Sown once for food but trodden into clay?
- Or golden coins squandered and still to pay?
- Or drops of blood dabbling the guilty feet?
- Or such spilt water as in dreams must cheat
- The throats of men in Hell, who thirst alway?
- I do not see them here; but after death
10 God knows I know the faces I shall see,
- Each one a murdered self, with low last breath.
- “I am thyself,—what hast
thou done to me?”
- “And I—and
I—thyself,” (lo! each one saith,)
- “And thou thyself to all eternity!”
- As two whose love, first foolish, widening scope,
- Knows suddenly, with music high and soft,
- The Holy of holies; who because they scoff'd
- Are now amazed with shame, nor dare to cope
- With the whole truth in words, lest heaven should ope;
- Yet, at their meetings, laugh not as they laugh'd
- In speech; nor speak, at length; but sitting oft
- Together, within hopeless sight of hope
- For hours are silent:—So it happeneth
10 When Work and Will awake too late, to gaze
- After their life sailed by, and hold their breath.
- Ah! who shall dare to search through what sad maze
- Thenceforth their incommunicable ways
- Follow the desultory feet of Death?
- The changing guests, each in a different mood,
- Sit at the roadside table and arise:
- And every life among them in likewise
- Is a soul's board set daily with new food.
- What man has bent o'er his son's sleep, to brood
- How that face shall watch his when cold it lies?—
- Or thought, as his own mother kissed his eyes,
- Of what her kiss was when his father wooed?
- May not this ancient room thou sit'st in dwell
10 In separate living souls for joy or pain?
- Nay, all its corners may be painted plain
- Where Heaven shows pictures of some life spent well:
- And may be stamped, a memory all in vain,
- Upon the sight of lidless eyes in Hell.
- To-day Death seems to me an infant child
- Which her worn mother Life upon my knee
- Has set to grow my friend and play with me;
- If haply so my heart might be beguil'd
- To find no terrors in a face so mild,—
- If haply so my weary heart might be
- Unto the newborn milky eyes of thee,
- O Death, before resentment reconcil'd.
- How long, O Death? And shall thy feet depart
10 Still a young child's with mine, or wilt
- Fullgrown the helpful daughter of my heart,
- What time with thee indeed I reach the strand
- Of the pale wave which knows thee what thou art,
- And drink it in the hollow of thy hand?
- And thou, O Life, the lady of all bliss,
- With whom, when our first heart beat full
- I wandered till the haunts of men were pass'd,
- And in fair places found all bowers amiss
- Till only woods and waves might hear our kiss,
- While to the winds all thought of Death we cast:—
- Ah! Life, and must I have from thee at last
- No smile to greet me and no babe but this?
- Lo! Love, the child once ours; and Song, whose hair
10 Blew like a flame and blossomed like a wreath;
- And Art, whose eyes were worlds by God found fair;
- These o'er the book of Nature mixed their breath
- With neck-twined arms, as oft we watched them there:—
- And did these die that thou might'st bear
Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
Transcription Gap: pages 274-376 (not by DGR)
Transcription Gap: pages 377-756 (not by DGR)
Electronic Archive Edition: 1