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ROSSETTI

MY SISTER'S SLEEPX SHE fell asleep on Christmas Eve :

At length the long-ungranted shade Of weary eyelids overweighd The pain nought else might yet relieve.

Our mother, who had leaned all day

Over the bed from chime to chine,

Then raised herself for the first time, And as she sat her down, did

pray. Her little work-table was spread

With work to finish. For the glare

Made by her candle, she had care To work some distance from the bed.

Without, there was a cold moon up.

Of winter radiance sheer and thin ;

The bollow halo it was in Was like an icy crystal cup. Through the small room, with subtle

sound Of fame, by vents the fireshine drove

And reddened. In its dim alcove The mirror shed a clearness round.

Because we were in Christmas Day, Though it would still be long till morn. Just then in the room over us

There was a pushing back of chairs,

As some who had sat unawares So late, now heard the hour, and rose. With anxious softly-stepping haste Our mother went where Margaret lay. Fearing the sounds o'erhead-should

they Have broken her long watched-for rest! She stooped an instant, calm, and

turned ; But suddenly turned back again :

And all her features seemed in pain With woe, and her eyes gazed and

yearned. For my part, I but hid my face, And held my breath, and spoke no

word : There was none spoken; but I heard The silence for a little space. Our mother bowed herself and wept :

And both my arms fell, and I said, “God knows I knew that she was

dead." And there, all white, my sister slept. Then kneeling, upon Christmas morn

A little after twelve o'clock We said, ere the first quarter struck. * Christ's blessing on the newly born!"

I had been sitting up some nights,
And my tired mind felt weak and

blank ; Like a sharp strengthening wine it

drank The stillness and the broken lights.

18:47. 1850).

Twelve struck. That sound, by dwin

dling year's Heard in each hour, crept off ; and

then The ruthed silence spread again, Like water that a pebble stirs.

THE BLESSED DAMOZEL

Our mother rose from where she sat:

Her needles, as she laid them down,

Met lightly, and her silken gown Settled: no other noise than that.

The blessed damozel leaned out

From the gold bar of Heaven; Her eyes were deeper than the depth

Of waters stilled at even ;
She had three lilies in her hand,

And the stars in her hair were seren.

“Glory unto the Newly Born !”

So, as said angels, she did say ;

Her robe, ungirt from clasp to hem,

No wrought flowers did adorn,

(Ah sweet! Even now, in that bird's

song, Strove not her accents there, Fain to be harkened ? When those bells

Possessed the mid-day air,
Strove not her steps to reach my side

Down all the echoing stair ?)

“I wish that he were come to me,

For he will come," she said. “ Have I not prayed in Heaven ?-on

earth, Lord, Lord, has he not pray'd ? Are not two prayers a perfect strength ?

And shall I feel afraid?

But a white rose of Mary's gift,

For service meetly worn ;
Her hair that lay along her back

Was yellow like ripe corn.
Herseemed she scarce had been a day

One of God's choristers ;
The wonder was not yet quite gone

From that still look of hers;
Albeit, to them she left, her day

Had counted as ten years. (To one, it is ten years of years.

Yet now, and in this place,
Surely she leaned o'er me-her hair

Fell all about my face.
Nothing: the autumn fall of leaves.

The whole year.sets apace.)
It was the rampart of God's house

That she was standing on;
By God built over the sheer depth

The which is Space begun;
So high, that looking downward thence

She scarce could see the sun.
It lies in Heaven, across the flood

Of ether, as a bridge.
Beneath the tides of day and night

With flame and darkness ridge
The void, as low as where this earth

Spins like a fretful dge.
Around her, lovers, newly met

'Mid deathless love's acclaims, Spoke evermore among themselves Their heart-remenbered names; And the souls mounting up to God

Went by her like thin flames.
And still she bowed herself and stooped

Out of the circling charm ;
Until her bosom must have made

The bar she leaned on warm,
And the lilies lay as if asleep

Along her bended arm. From the fixed place of Heaven she saw Time like a pulse shake fierce Through all the worlds. Her gaze still

strove Within the gulf to pierce Its path : and now she spoke as when

The stars sang in their spheres. The sun was gone now; the curled moon

Was like a little feather Fluttering far down the gulf; and now She spoke through the still weather. Her voice was like the voice the stars Had when they sang together.

“ When round his head the aureole

clings,
And he is clothed in white,
I'll take his hand and go with him

To the deep wells of light;
As unto a stream we will step down,

And bathe there in God's sight. “We two will stand beside that shrine,

Occult, withheld, untrod,
Whose lamps are stirred continually

With prayer sent up to God;
And see our old prayers, granted, melt

Each like a little cloud.

“We two will lie i' the shadow of

That living mystic tree Within whose secret growth the Dove

Is sometimes felt to be, While every leaf that His plumes touch

Saith His Name audibly. “And I myself will teach to him,

I myself, lying so, The songs I sing here ; which his voice

Shall pause in, hushed and slow, And find some knowledge at each pause,

Or some new thing to know.”. (Alas! We two, we two, thou say'st !

Yea, one wast thou with me
That once of old. But shall God list

To endless unity
The soul whose likeness with thy soul

Was but its love for thee?) “We two," she said, “will seek the

groves Where the lady Mary is, With her five handmaidens, whose

names Are five sweet symphonies, Cecily, Gertrude, Magdalen,

Margaret and Rosalys.

!

ROSSETTI

MY SISTER'S SLEEPX She fell asleep on Christmas Eve :

At length the long-ungranted shade Of weary eyelids overweighd The pain nought else might yet relieve.

Our mother, who had leaned all day

Over the bed from chime to chime,

Then raised herself for the first time, And as she sat her down, did

pray.

Her little work-table was spread

With work to finish. For the glare

Made by her candle, she had care To work some distance from the bed.

Without, there was a cold moon up,

Of winter radiance sheer and thin ;

The hollow halo it was in Was like an icy crystal cup. Through the small room, with subtle

sound Of fame, by vents the fireshine drove

And reddened. In its dim alcove The mirror shed a clearness round.

Because we were in Christmas Dar, Though it would still be long till morn. Just then in the room over us

There was a pushing back of chairs,

As some who had sat unawares So late, now heard the hour, and rose. With anxious softly-stepping haste Our mother went where Margaret las. Fearing the sounds o'erhead-should

they Have broken her long watched-for rest! She stooped an instant, calm, and

turned ;
But suddenly turned back again :

And all her features seemned in pain With woe, and her eyes gazed and

yearned. For my part, I but hid my face, And held my breath, and spoke ne

word : There was none spoken ; but I heard The silence for a little space. Our mother bowed herself and wept:

And both my arms fell, and I said, “God knows I knew that she won

dead.” And there, all white, my sister slept. Then kneeling, upon Christmas morn

A little after twelve o'clock We said, ere the first quarter struck. • Christ's blessing on the newly born!"

1847. 1854). THE BLESSED DAMOZEL X THE blessed damozel leaned out

From the gold bar of Hearen:
Her eyes were deeper than the depth

Of waters stilled at eren;
She had three lilies in her hand,

And the stars in her hair were seren.

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Her robe, ungirt from clasp to hem,

No wrought flowers did adorn,

a

But a white rose of Mary's gift,

(Ah sweet! Even now, in that bini's For service meetly worn;

song, Her hair that lay along her back

Strove not her accents there, Was yellow like ripe corn.

Fain to be harkened ? When those bolln Herseemed she scarce had been a day

Possessed the mid-day air,

Strove not her steps to renoh my side One of God's choristers ;

Down all the echoing stair?)
The wonder was not yet quite gone
From that still look of hers ;

"I wish that he were come to me,
Albeit, to them she left, her day
Had counted as ten years.

For he will come," she Nini.

“ Have I not prayod in Heaven? (To one, it is ten years of years.

earth, Yet now, and in this place,

Lord, Lord, has he not prayil? Surely she leaned o'er me—her hair

Are not two prayers a perfect strengthen Fell all about my face.

And shall I feel afraid?
Nothing: the autumn fall of leaves.
The whole year sets apace.)

“ When round his head the aurtolu

clings, It was the rampart of God's house

And he is clothed in white, That she was standing on;

I'll take his hand and go with him By God built over the sheer depth

To the deep wells of light; The which is Space begun ;

As unto a ktream we will stop down, So high, that looking downward thence And bathe there in (urd's night, She scarce could see the sun.

“We two will stand brmidle that shrines, It lies in Heaven, across the flood

Occult, withheld, untrol, Of ether, as a bridge.

Whoy lamjmara stirruimtinually Beneath the tides of day and night

With prayer went upu, (jurii With flame and darkness ridge

And our old prayers, yrat. It The roid, as low as where this earth

Fach like a littls ciuud. spins like a fretful inidge.

" We two will lie i' the baliw Around her, lovers, newly met

That living myste trate Mid deathless love's acclaims.

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Spoke evermore among themslens
Their heart-remembered name:

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“Circlewise sit they, with bound locks

And foreheads garlanded ;
Into the fine cloth white like flame

Weaving the golden thread,
To fashion the birth-robes for them

Who are just born, being dead.

“He shall fear, haply, and be dumb:

Then will I lay my cheek
To his, and tell about our love,

Not once abashed or weak :
And the dear Mother will approve

My pride, and let me speak.

“ Herself shall bring us, hand in hand,

To Him round whom all souls Kneel, the clear-ranged unnumbered

heads Bowed with their aureoles : And angels meeting us shall sing

To their citherns and citoles.

“ There will I ask of Christ the Lord

Thus much for him and me :-
Only to live as once on earth

With Love, only to be,
As then a while, for ever now.

Together, I and he.”

Kuow'st thou not at the fall of the lea! How the soul feels like a dried sbear

Bound up at length for harvesting.

And how death seems a comely thing In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

18041 THE PORTRAIT This is her picture as she was:

It seems a thing to wonder on, As though mine image in the glass

Should tarry when myself am gone. I gaze until she seems to stir,Until mine eyes almost aver That now, even now, the sweet lip

part To breathe the words of the sweet

heart:And yet the earth is over her. Alas! even such the thin-drawn rar That makes the prison-depths more !

rude,
The drip of water night and day

Giving a tongue to solitude.
Yet only this, of love's whole prize,
Remains ; save what in mournful guise

Takes counsel with my soul alone,

Save what is secret and unknown,
Below the earth, above the skies.
In painting her I shrined her face

'Mid mystic trees, where light falls in Hardly at all; a covert place

Where you might think to find a din Of doubtful talk, and a lire flame Wandering, and many a shape whose

Not itself knoweth, and old dew,

And your own footsteps meeting poo,
And all things going as they came.
A deep dim wood : and there she stands

As in that wood that day : for so
Was the still movement of her hands
And such the pure line's grachus

flow. And passing fair the type must seem, Unknown the presence and the dream.

'T is she : though of herself, alas!

Less tban her shadow on the grass Or than her image in the stream.

She gazed and listened and then said,

Less sad of speech than mild, “ All this is when he comes. She

ceased. The light thrilled towards her, fillid With angels in strong level flight.

Her eyes prayed, and she smil'd. (I saw her smile.) But soon their path

Was vague in distant spheres : And then she cast her arms along

The golden barriers, And laid her face between her hands, And wept. (I heard her tears.)

1847. 1850.

name

AUTUMN SONG

Know'st thou not at the fall of the leaf How the heart feels a languid grief

Laid on it for a covering ;

And how sleep seems a goodly thing In Autumn at the fall of the leaf ?

And how the swift beat of the brain
Falters because it is in vain.

In Autumn at the fall of the leaf

Knowest thou not ? and how the chief Of joys seems-not to suffer pain ?

That day we met there, I and she

One with the other all alone; And we were blithe; yet memory

1 W. M. Rossetti classes this among the earli poems, in date of writing. It was published as a song in 1884, and in the Poetical Works,

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