Dante Gabriel Rossetti (12 May 1828 – 9 April 1882 / London / England)
A REMOTE sky, prolonged to the sea's brim:
One rock-point standing buffeted alone,
Vexed at its base with a foul beast unknown,
Hell-birth of geomaunt and teraphim:
A knight, and a winged creature bearing him,
Reared at the rock: a woman fettered there,
Leaning into the hollow with loose hair
And throat let back and heartsick trail of limb.
The sky is harsh, and the sea shrewd and salt:
Under his lord the griffin-horse ramps blind
With rigid wings and tail. The spear's lithe stem
Thrills in the roaring of those jaws: behind,
That evil length of body chafes at fault.
She does not hear nor see—she knows of them.
CLENCH thine eyes now,—'tis the last instant, girl:
Draw in thy senses, set thy knees, and take
One breath for all: thy life is keen awake,—
Thou mayst not swoon. Was that the scattered whirl
Of its foam drenched thee?—or the waves that curl
And split, bleak spray wherein thy temples ache?
Or was it his the champion's blood to flake
Thy flesh?—or thine own blood's anointing, girl?
Now, silence: for the sea's is such a sound
As irks not silence; and except the sea,
All now is still. Now the dead thing doth cease
To writhe, and drifts. He turns to her: and she,
Cast from the jaws of Death, remains there, bound,
Again a woman in her nakedness.
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