Dante Gabriel Rossetti
THE wounded hart and the dying swan
Were side by side
Where the rushes coil with the turn of the tide—
The hart and the swan.
AS much as in a hundred years, she's dead:
Yet is to-day the day on which she died.
“I SAW the Sibyl at Cumæ”
(One said) “with mine own eye.
She hung in a cage, and read her rune
To all the passers-by.
Said the boys, ‘What wouldst thou, Sibyl?’
She answered, ‘I would die.’”
AS balmy as the breath of her you love
When deep between her breasts it comes to you.
“WAS it a friend or foe that spread these lies?”
“Nay, who but infants question in such wise?
'Twas one of my most intimate enemies.”
IF I could die like the British Queen
Who faced the Roman war,
Or hang in a cage for my country's sake
Like Black Bess of Dunbar!
SHE bound her green sleeve on my helm,
Sweet pledge of love's sweet meed:
Warm was her bared arm round my neck
As well she bade me speed;
And her kiss clings still between my lips,
Heart's beat and strength at need.
WHERE is the man whose soul has never waked
To sudden pity of the poor torn past?
AT her step the water-hen
Springs from her nook, and skimming the clear stream,
Ripples its waters in a sinuous curve,
And dives again in safety.
WOULD God I knew there were a God to thank
When thanks rise in me!
I SHUT myself in with my soul,
And the shapes come eddying forth.
“I HATE” says over and above
“This is a soul that I might love.”
None lightly says “My friend”: even so
Be jealous of that name “My foe.”
An enemy for an enemy,
But dogs for what a dog can be.
Hold those at heart, and time shall prove.
DO still thy best, albeit the clue
Be snapt of that thou strovest to;
Do still thy best, though direful hate
Should toil to leave thee desolate.
Do still thy best whom Fate would damn.
Say—such as I was made I am,
And did even such as I could do.
Anomalies against all rules
Acknowledge, though beyond the schools:—
Those passionate states when to know true
Some thing, and to believe, are two;
And that extraordinary sect
Whom no amount of intellect
Can save, alas, from being fools.
THE bitter stage of life
Where friend and foe are parts alternated.
THE winter garden-beds all bare,
Save only where the redbreast lingering there
Brings back one flower-like gleam 'mid the dark mould.
WHO shall say what is said in me,
With all that I might have been dead in me?
WHO knoweth not love's sounds and silences?
Where the poets all—
Echoes of singing nature—list her call.
EVEN as the dreariest swamps, in sweet Springtide,
Are most with Mary-flowers beatified.
OR reading in some sunny nook
Where grass-blade shadows fall across your book.
AYE, we'll shake hands, though scarce for love, we two:
But I hate hatred worse than I hate you.
AND heavenly things in your eyes have place,
Those breaks of sky in the twilight face.
THOUGH all the rest go by—
Ditties and dirges of the unanswering sky.
WHAT face but thine has taught me all that art
Can be, and still be Nature's counterpart—
The zodiac of all beauty?
Of instant flame, and petals of pure light.
AND love and faith, the vehement heart of all.
FOR this can love, and does love, and loves me.
FOR this can love, and does, and loves but me.
THE forehead veiled and the veiled throat of Death.
THOU that beyond thy real self dost see
A self ideal, bid thy heart beware.
AND plaintive days that haunt the haggard hills
With bleak unspoken woe.
TO know for certain that we do not know
Is the first step in knowledge.
THINK through this silence how when we are old
We two shall think upon this place and day.
AN ant-sting's prickly at first,
But the pain soon dies away;
A gnat-sting's worse the next day;
But a wasp 'tis stings the worst.
AND mad revulsion of the tarnished light.
HIS face, in Fortune's favours sunn'd,
Was radiantly rubicund.
THE glass stands empty of all things it knew.
O THOU whose name, being alone, aloud
I utter oft, and though thou art not there,
Toward thine imaged presence kiss the air.
I SAW the love which was my life flow past
'Twixt shadowed reaches, like a murmuring stream:—
I was awake, and lo it was a dream.
OR give ten years of life's most bitter wane
To see the loved one as she was again.
AND of the cup of human agony
Enough to fill the sea.
EVEN as the moon grows clearer on the sky
While the sky darkens, and her Venus-star
Thrills with a keener radiance from afar.
(THE Imperial Cloak—Paludamentum).
And purple-dyed paludament of war.
FOR the garlands of heaven were all laid by,
And the Daylight sucked at the breasts of a Lie.
WITHIN those eyes the sedulous yearning throe,
And all the evil of my heart
A thousand times forgotten.
AH if you had been lost for many years,
And from the dead to-day were risen again!
FASHIONED with intricate infinity.
AH dear one, we were young so long
I thought that youth would never wane—
Ah dear one, I've been old so long,
How long until we meet again?
THE tombless fossil of deep-buried days.
AND 'mid the budding branches' sway
Our antlers met in battle-play
When our fetlocks felt the Spring.
IN galliard gardens of strange aventine,
Or sway of tidal night.
WHEN we are senseless grown, to make stones speak.
OR, stamped with the snake's coil, it be
The imperial image of Eternity.
COULD Keats but have a day or two on earth
Once every year!
“AH lads, I knew your father.” What wide world
Of meaning in those words! They mean that he,
Being gone before, has known that mystery
From living Plato and Socrates fast-furl'd.
THIS little day—a bird that flew to me—
Has swiftly flown out of my hand again.
Ah have I listened to its fugitive strain
For what its tidings of the sky may be?
NO ship came near: aloof with heed
They tacked, as still as death;
For round our walls the sea was dense
With reefs whose sharp circumference
Was the great stronghold's sure defence.
AND plaintive days that haunt the haggard hills
With bleak unspoken woe.
And mad revulsion of the tarnished light.
ET les larmes, comme le sang,
Grisent ceux qui les font couler.
PRO hoste hostem, canes pro canibus affer.
IL faut que tu le tiennes pour dit,
Car je ne t'aime plus, ma mie.
DEL mare il susurro sonoro.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Other Poems
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Comments about this poem (Fragments by Dante Gabriel Rossetti )
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
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