Dante Gabriel Rossetti

(12 May 1828 – 9 April 1882 / London / England)

The Card-Dealer - Poem by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Could you not drink her gaze like wine?
Yet though its splendour swoon
Into the silence languidly
As a tune into a tune,
Those eyes unravel the coiled night
And know the stars at noon.
The gold that's heaped beside her hand,
In truth rich prize it were;
And rich the dreams that wreathe her brows
With magic stillness there;
And he were rich who should unwind
That woven golden hair.
Around her, where she sits, the dance
Now breathes its eager heat;
And not more lightly or more true
Fall there the dancers' feet
Than fall her cards on the bright board
As 'twere a heart that beat.
Her fingers let them softly through,
Smooth polished silent things;
And each one as it falls reflects
In swift light-shadowings,
Blood-red and purple, green and blue,
The great eyes of her rings.
Whom plays she with? With thee, who lov'st
Those gems upon her hand;
With me, who search her secret brows;
With all men, bless'd or bann'd.
We play together, she and we,
Within a vain strange land:
A land without any order,—
Day even as night, (one saith,)—
Where who lieth down ariseth not
Nor the sleeper awakeneth;
A land of darkness as darkness itself
And of the shadow of death.
What be her cards, you ask? Even these:—
The heart, that doth but crave
More, having fed; the diamond,
Skilled to make base seem brave;
The club, for smiting in the dark;
The spade, to dig a grave.
And do you ask what game she plays?
With me 'tis lost or won;
With thee it is playing still; with him
It is not well begun;
But 'tis a game she plays with all
Beneath the sway o' the sun.
Thou seest the card that falls,—she knows
The card that followeth:
Her game in thy tongue is called Life,
As ebbs thy daily breath:
When she shall speak, thou'lt learn her tongue
And know she calls it Death.

Comments about The Card-Dealer by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

  • Freshman - 767 Points John S (11/6/2015 1:40:00 PM)

    In case you're wondering, the painting he was looking at when he wrote this poem was
    ‘The Wish’, Theodore von Holst
    It would be nice if poemhunter would let you upload the jpeg so the reader can understand what the poet is describing. Considering Rossetti was a painter and a poet, it would be neat to see some type of verbal stimuli (poetry) and visual stimuli (his art work) displayed together. The more senses you can involve the better. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010

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