Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Ashley 1404 (Page Proofs for The Stream's Secret and four other sonnets)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1870 March
Printer: Strangeways and Walden

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

Image of page [1] page: [1]
Printer's Direction: Comes after “Stratton Water” in the book.
Editorial Description: DGR's notation on the poem's placement
  • What thing unto mine ear
  • Wouldst thou convey,—what secret thing,
  • O wandering water ever whispering?
  • Surely thy speech shall be of her.
  • Thou water, O thou whispering wanderer,
  • What message dost thou bring?
  • Say, hath not Love leaned low
  • This hour beside thy far well-head,
  • And there through jealous hollowed fingers said
  • 10 The thing that most I long to know,—
  • Murmuring with curls all dabbled in thy flow
  • And washed lips rosy red?
  • He told it to thee there
  • Where thy voice hath a louder tone;
  • But where it welters to this little moan
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  • His will decrees that I should hear.
  • Now speak: for with the silence is no fear,
  • And I am all alone.
  • Shall Time not still endow
  • 20 One hour with life, and I and she
  • Slake on love's lips the thirst of memory?
  • Say, stream; lest l Love should disavow
  • Thy service, and the bird upon the bough
  • Sing first to tell it me.
  • What whisperest thou? Nay, why
  • Name the dead hours? I mind them well:
  • Their ghosts in many darkened doorways dwell
  • With desolate eyes to know them by.
  • That hour must still be born ere it can die:
  • 30 Of that I'd have thee tell.
  • But hear, before thou speak!
  • Withhold, I pray, the vain behest
  • That while the maze hath still its bower for quest
  • My burning heart should cease to seek.
  • Be sure that Love ordained for souls more meek
  • His roadside dells of rest.
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  • Stream, when this silver thread
  • In flood-time is a torrent brown,
  • May any bulwark bind thy foaming crown?
  • 40 Shall not the waters surge and spread
  • And to the crannied boulders of their bed
  • Still shoot the dead leaves down?
  • Let no rebuke find place
  • In speech of thine: or it shall prove
  • That thou dost ill expound the words of Love,
  • Even as thine eddy's rippling race
  • Would blur the perfect image of his face.
  • I will have none thereof.
  • O learn and understand
  • 50 That 'gainst the wrongs himself did wreak
  • Love sought her aid; until her shadowy cheek
  • And eyes beseeching gave command;
  • And compassed in her close compassionate hand
  • My heart must burn and speak.
  • For then at last we spoke
  • What eyes so oft had told to eyes
  • Through that long-lingering silence whose half-sighs
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  • Alone the buried secret broke,
  • Which with snatched hands and lips' reverberate stroke
  • 60 Then from the heart did rise.
  • But she is far away
  • Now; nor the hours of night grown hoar
  • Bring yet to me, long gazing from the door,
  • The wind-stirred robe of roseate grey
  • And rose-crown of the hour that leads the day
  • When we shall meet once more.
  • Dark as thy blinded wave
  • When brimming midnight floods the glen,—
  • Bright as the laughter of thy runnels when
  • 70 The dawn brings all the light they crave;
  • Even so these hours to wound and that to save
  • Are sisters in Love's ken.
  • Oh sweet her bending grace
  • Then when I kneel beside her feet;
  • And sweet her eyes' o'erhanging heaven; and sweet
  • The gathering folds of her embrace;
  • And her fall'n hair at last shed round my face
  • When breaths and tears shall meet.
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  • Beneath her sheltering hair,
  • 80 In the warm silence near her breast,
  • Our kisses and our sobs shall sink to rest;
  • As in some still trance made aware
  • That day and night have wrought to fulness there
  • And Love has built our nest.
  • And as in the dim grove,
  • When the rains cease that hushed them long,
  • 'Mid glistening boughs the song-birds wake to song,—
  • So from our hearts deep-shrined in love,
  • While the leaves throb beneath, around, above,
  • 90 The quivering notes shall throng.
  • Till tenderest words found vain
  • Draw back to wonder mute and deep,
  • And closed lips in closed arms a silence keep,
  • Subdued by memory's circling strain,—
  • The wind-rapt sound that the wind brings again
  • While all the willows weep.
  • Then by her summoning art
  • Shall memory conjure back the sere
  • Autumnal Springs, from many a dying year
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  • 100 Born dead; and, bitter to the heart,
  • The very ways where now we walk apart
  • Who then shall cling so near.
  • And with each thought new-grown,
  • Some sweet caress or some sweet name
  • Low breathed shall let me know her thought the same;
  • Making me rich with every tone
  • And touch of the dear heaven so long unknown
  • That filled my dreams with flame.
  • Pity and love shall burn
  • 110 In her pressed cheek and cherishing hands;
  • And from the living spirit of love that stands
  • Between her lips to soothe and yearn,
  • Each separate breath shall clasp me round in turn
  • And loose my spirit's bands.
  • Oh passing sweet and dear,
  • Then when the worshipped form and face
  • Are felt at length in darkling close embrace;
  • Round which so oft the sun shone clear,
  • With mocking light and pitiless atmosphere,
  • 120 In many an hour and place.
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  • Ah me! with what proud growth
  • Shall that hour's thirsting race be run;
  • While, for each several sweetness still begun
  • Afresh, endures love's endless drouth:
  • Sweet hands, sweet hair, sweet cheeks, sweet eyes, sweet mouth,
  • Each singly wooed and won.
  • Yet most with the sweet soul
  • Shall love's espousals then be knit;
  • What time the governing cloud sheds peace from it
  • 130 O'er tremulous wings that touch the goal,
  • And on the unmeasured height of Love's control
  • The lustral fires are lit.
  • Therefore, when breast and cheek
  • Now part, from long embraces free,—
  • Each on the other gazing shall but see
  • A self that has no need to speak:
  • All things unsought, yet nothing more to seek,—
  • One love in unity.
  • O water wandering past,—
  • 140 Albeit to thee I speak this thing,
  • O water, thou that wanderest whispering,
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  • Thou keep'st thy counsel to the last.
  • What spell upon thy bosom should Love cast,
  • Its secret thence to wring?
  • Nay, must thou hear the tale
  • Of the past days,—the heavy debt
  • Of life that obdurate time withholds,—ere yet
  • To win thine ear these prayers prevail,
  • And by thy voice Love's self with high All-hail
  • 150 Yield up the amulet?
  • How should all this be told?—
  • All the sad sum of wayworn days;—
  • Heart's anguish in the impenetrable maze;
  • And on the waste uncoloured wold
  • The visible burthen of the sun grown cold
  • And the moon's labouring gaze?
  • Alas! shall hope be nurs'd
  • On life's all-succouring breast in vain,
  • And made so perfect only to be slain?
  • 160 Or shall not rather the sweet thirst
  • Even yet rejoice the heart with warmth dispers'd
  • And strength grown fair again?
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  • Stands it not by the door—
  • Love's Hour—till she and I shall meet;
  • With bodiless form and unapparent feet
  • That cast no shadow yet before,
  • Though round its head the dawn begins to pour
  • The breath that makes day sweet?
  • Its eyes invisible
  • 170 Watch till the dial's thin-thrown shade
  • Be born,—yea, till the journeying line be laid
  • Upon the point that wakes the spell,
  • And there in lovelier light than tongue can tell
  • Its presence stand array'd.
  • Its soul remembers yet
  • Those sunlit hours that passed it by;
  • And still it hears the night's disconsolate cry,
  • And feels the branches wringing wet
  • Cast on its brow, that may not once forget,
  • 180 Dumb tears from the blind sky.
  • But oh! when now her foot
  • Draws near, for whose sake night and day
  • Were long in weary longing sighed away,—
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  • The Hour of Love, no longer mute,
  • Shall sing beside the door, and Love's own lute
  • Thrill to the passionate lay.
  • Thou know'st, for Love has told
  • Within thine ear, O stream, how soon
  • That song shall lift its sweet appointed tune.
  • 190 O tell me, for my lips are cold,
  • And in my veins the blood is waxing old
  • Even while I beg the boon.
  • So, in that hour of sighs
  • Assuaged, shall we beside this stone
  • Yield thanks for grace; while in thy mirror shown
  • The twofold image softly lies,
  • Until we kiss, and each in other's eyes
  • Is imaged all alone.
  • Still silent? Can no art
  • 200 Of Love's then move thy pity? Nay,
  • To thee let nothing come that owns his sway:
  • Let happy lovers have no part
  • With thee; nor even so sad and poor a heart
  • As thou hast spurned to-day.
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  • To-day? Lo! night is here.
  • The glen grows heavy with some veil
  • Risen from the earth or fall'n to make earth pale;
  • And all stands to eye and ear,
  • Until the night-wind shake the shade like fear
  • 210 And every covert quail.
  • Ah! by another wave
  • On other airs the hour must come
  • Which to thy heart, my love, shall call me home.
  • Between the lips of the low cave
  • Against that night the lapping waters lave,
  • And the dark lips are dumb.
  • But there Love's self doth stand,
  • And with Life's weary wings far-flown,
  • And with Death's eyes that make the water moan,
  • 220 Gathers the water in his hand:
  • And they that drink know nought of sky or land
  • But only love alone.
  • O soul-sequestered face
  • Far off,—O were that night but now!
  • So even beside that stream even I and thou
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  • Through thirsting lips should draw Love's grace,
  • And in the zone of that supreme embrace
  • Bind aching breast and brow.
  • O water whispering
  • 230 Still through the dark into mine ears,—
  • As with mine eyes, is it not now with hers?—
  • Mine eyes that add to thy cold spring,
  • Wan water, wandering water weltering,
  • This hidden tide of tears.
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Printer's Direction: Comes in the House of Life after “The Portrait”
Editorial Description: DGR's notation on the poem's placement
  • Warmed by her hand and shadowed by her hair
  • As close she leaned and poured her heart through thee,
  • Whereof the articulate throbs accompany
  • The smooth black stream that makes thy whiteness fair,—
  • Sweet fluttering sheet, even of her breath aware,—
  • Oh let thy silent song disclose to me
  • That soul wherewith her lips and eyes agree
  • Like married music in Love's answering air.
  • Fain had I watched her when, at some fond thought,
  • 10 Her bosom to the writing closelier press'd,
  • And her breast's secrets peered into her breast;
  • When, through eyes raised an instant, her soul sought
  • My soul, and from the sudden confluence caught
  • The words that made her love the loveliest.
Image of page 14 page: 14
Printer's Direction: Comes in H. of L - after The Hill Summit
Editorial Description: DGR's notation on the poem's placement
  • So now the changed year's turning wheel returns:
  • And as a girl sails balanced in the wind,
  • And now before and now again behind
  • Stoops as it swoops, with cheek that laughs and burns,—
  • So Spring comes merry towards me now, but earns
  • No answering smile from me, whose life is twin'd
  • With the dead boughs that winter still must bind,
  • And whom to-day the Spring no more concerns.
  • Behold, this crocus is a withering flame;
  • 10 This snowdrop, snow; this apple-blossom's part
  • To breed the fruit that breeds the serpent's art.
  • Nay, for these Spring-flowers, turn thy face from them,
  • Nor gaze till on the year's last lily-stem
  • The white cup shrivels round the golden heart.
Image of page 15 page: 15
Printer's Direction: Comes in Sonnets for Pictures after “Ruggiero & Angelica”
Editorial Description: DGR's notation on the poem's placement


  • Dusk-haired and gold-robed o'er the golden wine
  • She stoops, wherein, distilled of death and shame,
  • Sink the black drops; while, lit with fragrant flame,
  • Round her spread board the golden sunflowers shine.
  • Doth Helios here with Hecatè combine
  • (O Circe, thou their votaress!) to proclaim
  • For these thy guests all rapture in Love's name,
  • Till pitiless Night give Day the countersign?
  • Lords of their hour, they come. And by her knee
  • 10 Those cowering beasts, their equals heretofore,
  • Wait; who with them in new equality
  • To-night shall echo back the unchanging roar
  • Which sounds for ever from the tide-strown shore
  • Where the dishevelled seaweed hates the sea.
Image of page 16 page: 16
Printer's Direction: Comes last in the book
Editorial Description: DGR's notation on the poem's placement

( Written during Music.)
  • Is it the moved air or the moving sound
  • That is Life's self and draws my life from me,
  • And by instinct ineffable decree
  • Holds my breath quailing on the bitter bound?
  • Nay, is it Life or Death, thus thunder-crown'd,
  • That 'mid the tide of all emergency
  • Now notes my separate wave, and to what sea
  • Its difficult eddies labour in the ground?
  • Oh! what is this that knows the road I came,
  • 10The flame turned cloud, the cloud returned to flame,
  • The lifted shifted steeps and all the way?—
  • That draws round me at last this wind-warm space,
  • And in regenerate rapture turns my face
  • Upon the devious coverts of dismay?
Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: ashley1404.rad.xml
Copyright: By permission of The British Library.