Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Sonnets (Princeton/Troxell bound manuscript volume)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of Composition: 1848-1881
Scribe: DGR

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

Image of page endpapers page: endpapers
Note: Janet Camp Troxell's bookplate pasted down on inside front cover
Image of page [i] page: [i]
Note: Typed list of contents, each numbered by hand to the left.
Green Book
1 Words on the Window Pane

2 The last five from Trafalgar

3 During Music

4 To P B Marston

5 For the Holy Family

6 Cassandra

7 Sudden Light

8 Spring    See also   Purple Book p. 2

9 The Church Porch

10 The Portrait

11 To Death   of his Lady
Image of page coversheet page: coversheet
Manuscript Addition: Eleven Original Manuscript Sonnets by / Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
Editorial Description: Charles Fairfax Murray's notation
Manuscript Addition: and ALS 1876 to Mrs. Summers / and 1 page “The Philosophy of Handwriting” / with DGR's pencil notes
Editorial Description: Notation in unknown hand; the letter is not among the bound materials in the volume.
Image of page [1] page: [1]
Actual Size: 18 x 22 inches
Paper Lineation: ruled
Paper Stock: white
Added TextWords on the Window-pane

On an unfinished inscription

scratched on a window-pane

Words on the window-pane.
  • Did she in summer write it, or in spring,
  • Or with this wail of autumn at her ears,
  • Or in some winter left among old years
  • Scratched it through tettered cark? A certain thing
  • That round her heart the frost was hardening
  • Not to be thawed of tears, which on this pane
  • Channelled the rime, perchance, in fevered rain,
  • For false man's sake and love's most bitter sting.
  • Howbeit, between this last word & the next
  • 10Unwritten, subtly seasoned was the smart,
  • And here at least the grace to weep: if she,
  • Rather, midway in her disconsolate text,
  • Rebelled not, loathing from the trodden heart
  • That thing which she had found man's love to be.

Image of page [1v] page: [1v]
Note: blank page
Image of page [2] page: [2]
Actual Size: 18 x 11 cm
Paper Lineation: ruled
Paper Stock: white
The Last Five Few from Trafalgar

at the Anniversary Banquet

(21 Oct: ? 187*)
  • In grappled ships around The Victory,
  • Five Those boys did England's d Duty with stout cheer,
  • While one dread truth was kept from every ear,
  • More dire than deafening fire that churned the sea:
  • For in the flag-ship's weltering cockpit, he
  • Who was the Battle's Heart without a peer,
  • He who had seen all fearful sights save Fear,
  • Was passing from all life save Victory.
  • And round the old memorial board today,
  • 10 Five These greybeards—each a warworn British Tar—
  • View through the mist of years that hour afar:
  • Who soon shall greet, 'mid memories of fierce fray,
  • The impassioned soul which on its radiant way
  • Soared through the fiery cloud of Trafalgar.

Image of page [2v] page: [2v]
Note: blank page
Image of page [3] page: [3]
Actual Size: 18.1 x 22 cm
Paper Lineation: ruled
Paper Stock: white
During Music
  • O cool unto the sense of pain
  • That last night's sleep could not destroy!
  • O warm unto the sense of joy
  • That dreams its life within the brain!
  • What though I lean o'er thee to scan
  • The written music cramped and stiff?
  • 'Tis dark to me as hieroglyph
  • On those weird bulks Egyptian.
  • But as from those, dumb now & strange,
  • 10 A glory wanders on the earth,
  • Even so thy tones can call a birth
  • From these, to shake my soul with change.
  • O swift, as in melodious haste
  • Throb o'er the keys thy fingers small!
  • O soft as is the rise and fall
  • Which stirs that shade within thy breast.

Image of page [3v] page: [3v]
Manuscript Addition: Date wd be early say /51—MS c. /63
Editorial Description: WMR's note on the date of the poem and the manuscript
Image of page [4] page: [4]
Actual Size: 18.1 x 22 cm
Paper Lineation: ruled
Paper Stock: white
Manuscript Addition: WMR notes: In Sharp's bk line 4 gives / the word sight. In MS in W's possession / word is light. Is this WM's?
Editorial Description: Janet Camp Troxell's note on the manuscript.
To Philip Bourke Marston,

inciting me to poetic work:
  • Sweet Poet, thou of whom these these years that roll
  • Must one day yet the burdened birthright learn,
  • And by the darkness of thine eyes discern
  • How piercing was the sight within thy soul;—
  • Gifted apart, thou goest to the great goal,
  • A cloud-bound radiant spirit, strong to earn,
  • Light-reft, that prize for which fond myriads yearn
  • Vainly light-blest,—the Seër's aureole.
  • And doth thine ear, divinely dowered to catch
  • 10 All spheral sounds in thy song blent so well,
  • Still hearken for my voice's slumbering spell
  • With wistful love? Ah! let the Muse now snatch
  • My wreath for thy young brows, and bend to watch
  • Thy veiled transfiguring sense's miracle.

Image of page [4v] page: [4v]
Manuscript Addition: C. 1879 a good specimen of handwriting / from that late date
Editorial Description: WMR's note along left edge of the page
Image of page [5] page: [5]
Actual Size: 18.1 x 22 cm
Paper Lineation: ruled
Paper Stock: white

The Holy Family,

by Michael Angelo,

in the National Gallery.*

  • Turn not the prophet's page, O Son! He knew
  • All that thou hast to suffer, and hath writ.
  • Not yet thine hour of knowledge. Infinite
  • The sorrows that thy manhood's fate lot must rue
  • And dire acquaintance of thy grief. That clue
  • Thy The spirits of most thy mournful ministerings
  • Seek through yon the scroll in silence. For these things
  • The angels have desired to look into.
  • Still before Eden waves the fiery sword,—
  • 10 Her Tree of Life unransomed: whose sad Tree
  • Of Knowledge yet to growth of Calvary
  • Must yield its Tempter,—Hell the earliest dead
  • Of Earth resign,—and yet, O Son and Lord,
  • The Seed o' the Woman bruise the serpent's head.

† In this picture, the Virgin Mother is seen withholding from the

Child Saviour the prophetic writings in which his sufferings

are foretold. Angelic figures beside them examine a scroll.
page: [5v]
Note: blank page
Image of page [6] page: [6]
Actual Size: 18.1 x 22 cm
Paper Lineation: ruled
Paper Stock: white

( Two Sonnets for a Design)

  • Rend, rend thine hair, Cassandra: he will go.
  • Yea, rend thy garments, wring thine arms hands, and cry
  • From Troy still towered to the unreddened sky.
  • See, all but she that bore thee mock thy woe:—
  • He most whom that fair woman arms, with show
  • Of wrath on her bent brows; for in this place
  • This hour thou bad'st all men in Helen's face
  • The ravished ravishing prize of Death to know.
  • What eyes, what ears hath sweet Andromache,
  • 10 Save for her Hector's form and step; as tear
  • On tear make salt the warm last kiss he gave?
  • He goes. Cassandra's words beat heavily
  • Like crows above his crest, and at his ear
  • Ring hollow in the shield that shall not save.

* The subject shows Cassandra prophesying among her kindred, as Hector leaves

them for his last battle. ? They are on the platform of a fortress, from which the Trojan

troops are marching out. Helen is arming Paris; Priam soothes Hecuba;

and Andromache holds the child in her arms to her bosom.
Image of page [6v] page: [6v]
Note: blank page
Image of page [7] page: [7]
Actual Size: 17.5 x 21 cm
Paper Lineation: ruled
Paper Stock: white
Actual Watermark: J ALLEN & SONS / SUPER FINE
Sudden Light

  • We I have been here before,
  • But when or how I cannot tell:
  • I know the grass beyond the door,
  • The sweet fresh keen smell,
  • The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.
  • You have been mine before,—
  • How long ago I do may not know:
  • But just when at that swallow's soar
  • Your head neck turned so,
  • 10 Some veil did fall,—I knew it all of yore.
  • Before may be again!
    Added TextThen, now:—perchance again!
  • O press mine eyes into your neck!
    Added TextO round mine eyes your tresses shake!
  • Shall we not lie as we have lain
  • Thus for Love's sake,
  • And sleep, and wake, yet never break the chain?

Image of page [7v] page: [7v]
Note: blank page
Image of page [8] page: [8]
Actual Size: 16 x 21 cm
Paper Lineation: unruled
Paper Stock: white
Actual Watermark: JOY[YNSON] 18[ ]
Note: The line of text at the bottom of the page is part of the letter in which this text of the poem was originally enclosed; a letter to DGR's mother of 20 May 1873.

  • 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 streamsides, 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,
  • 10 And 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
  • Pledge to the heart Spring's perfect imminent hour
  • Whose breath shall soothe you like your dear one's hand.
I'll put some cuckoo-flowers

in,—light purple white
Manuscript Addition: over / WMR's note on verso
Editorial Description: Janet Camp Troxell's note
Image of page [8v] page: [8v]
Manuscript Addition: As printed—this must be the copy of the sonnet sent to R's / mother (Family Letters p.291) on 20/5/73— Hence the note at / close of MS / 2.5
Editorial Description: Charles Fairfax Murray's note
Image of page [9] page: [9]
Actual Size: 16 x 21 cm
Paper Lineation: ruled
Paper Stock: white
The Church Porch
  • Sister, first shake we off the dust we have
  • Upon our feet, lest it defile the stones
  • Inscriptured, covering their sacred bones
  • Who lie i' the aisles which keep the names they gave,
  • Their trust abiding round them in the grave;
  • Whom painters paint for silent visible orisons
  • And to whom sculptors pray in stone & bronze;
  • Their voices echo still like a spent wave.
  • Without here, the church-bells are but a tune,
  • 10And on the carven church-door this hot noon
  • Lays all its heavy sunshine here without:
  • But having entered in, we shall find there
  • Silence, and lighted candles sudden dimness, and deep prayer,
  • And faces of crowned angels all about.
Image of page [9v] page: [9v]
Note: blank page
Image of page [10] page: [10]
Actual Size: 18.1 x 22.1 cm
Paper Lineation: ruled
Paper Stock: white
The Portrait.

  • O Lord of all compassionate control,
  • O Love! let this my lady's picture glow
  • Under my hand to praise her name, and show
  • Even of her inner self the perfect whole:
  • That he who seeks her beauty's furthest goal,
  • Beyond the light that the sweet glances throw
  • And refluent wave of the sweet smile, may know
  • The very sky and sea-line of her soul.
  • Lo! it is done. Above the long lithe throat
  • 10 The mouth's mould testifies of voice and kiss,
  • The shadowed eyes remember and foresee.
  • Her face is made her shrine. Let all men note
  • That in all years (O Love, thy gift is this!)
  • They that would look on her must come to me.

Image of page [10v] page: [10v]
Note: blank page
Image of page [11] page: [11]
Actual Size: 9 x 21 cm
Paper Lineation: unruled
Paper Stock: white
To Death, of his Lady.

(Francois Villon, 1450)

  • Death, of thee do I make my moan,
  • Who hadst my lady away from me,
  • Nor wilt assuage thine enmity
  • Till with her life thou hast mine own,
  • For since that hour my strength has flown.
  • Lo! what wrong was her life to thee,
  • Death?
  • Two we were, and the heart was one;
  • Which now being dead, dead I must be,
  • 10 Or seem alive as lifelessly
  • As in the choir the painted stone,
  • Death!

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Copyright: Princeton University Library, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections