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Allspirit Poetry

Selected Poetry of Dante Gabriel Rossetti


The Sea-Limits

Consider the sea's listless chime:
   Time's self it is, made audible, - 
   The murmur of the earth's own shell. 
Secret continuance sublime 
   Is the sea's end: our sight may pass 
   No furlong farther. Since time was, 
This sound hath told the lapse of time. 

No quiet, which is death's, - it hath 
   The mournfulness of ancient life, 
   Enduring always at dull strife. 
As the world's heart of rest and wrath, 
   Its painful pulse is in the sands. 
   Last utterly, the whole sky stands, 
Grey and not known, along its path. 

Listen alone beside the sea, 
   Listen alone among the woods; 
   Those voices of twin solitudes 
Shall have one sound alike to thee: 
   Hark where the murmurs of thronged men 
   Surge and sink back and surge again, - 
Still the one voice of wave and tree. 

Gather a shell from the strown beach 
   And listen at its lips: they sigh 
   The same desire and mystery, 
The echo of the whole sea's speech 
   And all mankind is thus at heart 
   Not anything but what thou art: 
And Earth, Sea, Man, are all in each. 

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     Thin are the night-skirts left behind
         By daybreak hours that onward creep,
         And thin, alas! the shred of sleep
     That wavers with the spirit's wind:
     But in half-dreams that shift and roll
         And still remember and forget,
     My soul this hour has drawn your soul
             A little nearer yet.

     Our lives, most dear, are never near,
       Our thoughts are never far apart,
       Though all that draws us heart to heart
   Seems fainter now and now more clear.
   To-night Love claims his full control,
       And with desire and with regret
   My soul this hour has drawn your soul
           A little nearer yet.

   Is there a home where heavy earth
       Melts to bright air that breathes no pain,
       Where water leaves no thirst again
   And springing fire is Love's new birth?
   If faith long bound to one true goal
       May there at length its hope beget,
   My soul that hour shall draw your soul
           For ever nearer yet.

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A Little While

                      A LITTLE while a little love
                      The hour yet bears for thee and me
                      Who have not drawn the veil to see
                      If still our heaven be lit above.
                      Thou merely, at the day's last sigh,
                      Hast felt thy soul prolong the tone;
                      And I have heard the night-wind cry
                      And deemed its speech mine own.

                      A little while a little love
                      The scattering autumn hoards for us
                      Whose bower is not yet ruinous
                      Nor quite unleaved our songless grove.
                      Only across the shaken boughs
                      We hear the flood-tides seek the sea,
                      And deep in both our hearts they rouse
                      One wail for thee and me.

                      A little while a little love
                      May yet be ours who have not said
                      The word it makes our eyes afraid
                      To know that each is thinking of.
                      Not yet the end: be our lips dumb
                      In smiles a little season yet:
                      I'll tell thee, when the end is come,
                      How we may best forget.

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Between the hands, between the brows,
Between the lips of Love-Lily,
A spirit is born whose birth endows
My blood with fire to burn through me;
Who breathes upon my gazing eyes,
Who laughs and murmurs in mine ear,
At whose least touch my colour flies,
And whom my life grows faint to hear.

Within the voice, within the heart,
Within the mind of Love-Lily,
A spirit is born who lifts apart
His tremulous wings and looks at me;
Who on my mouth his finger lays,
And shows, while whispering lutes confer,
That Eden of Love's watered ways
Whose winds and spirits worship her.

Brows, hands, and lips, heart, mind, and voice,
Kisses and words of Love-Lily,--
Oh! bid me with your joy rejoice
Till riotous longing rest in me!
Ah! let not hope be still distraught,
But find in her its gracious goal,
Whose speech Truth knows not from her thought
Nor Love her body from her soul.

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Sudden Light

I have been here before,
   But when or how I cannot tell:
  I know the grass beyond the door, 
   The sweet keen smell, 
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.

  You have been mine before,-- 
   How long ago I may not know: 
  But just when at that swallow's soar
   Your neck turn'd so, 
Some veil did fall,--I knew it all of yore.

  Has this been thus before? 
   And shall not thus time's eddying flight
  Still with our lives our love restore
   In death's despite, 
And day and night yield one delight once more?

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When do I see thee most, beloved one?
When in the light the spirits of mine eyes
Before thy face, their altar, solemnize
The worship of that Love through thee made known?
Or when in the dusk hours (we two alone)
Close-kissed and eloquent of still replies
Thy twilight-hidden glimmering visage lies,
And my soul only sees thy soul its own?

O love, my love! if I no more should see
Thyself, nor on the earth the shadow of thee,
Nor image of thine eyes in any spring,--
How then should sound upon Life's darkening slope
The ground-whirl of the perished leaves of Hope,
The wind of Death's imperishable wing?

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Genius in Beauty

Beauty like hers is genius. Not the call
Of Homer's or of Dante's heart sublime,--
Not Michael's hand furrowing the zones of time,--
Is more with compassed mysteries musical;
Nay, not in Spring's Summer's sweet footfall
More gathered gifts exuberant Life bequeaths
Than doth this sovereign face, whose love-spell breathes
Even from its shadowed contour on the wall.

As many men are poets in their youth,
But for one sweet-strung soul the wires prolong
Even through all change the indomitable song;
So in likewise the envenomed years, whose tooth
Rends shallower grace with ruin void of ruth,
Upon this beauty's power shall wreak no wrong.

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Sweet dimness of her loosened hair's downfall
About thy face; her sweet hands round thy head
In gracious fostering union garlanded;
Her tremulous smiles; her glances' sweet recall
Of love; her murmuring sighs memorial;
Her mouth's culled sweetness by thy kisses shed
On cheeks and neck and eyelids, and so led
Back to her mouth which answers there for all:--

What sweeter than these things, except the thing
In lacking which all these would lose their sweet:--
The confident heart's still fervour; the swift beat
And soft subsidence of the spirit's wing,
Then when it feels, in cloud-girt wayfaring,
The breath of kindred plumes against its feet?

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Severed Selves

Two separate divided silences,
Which, brought together, would find loving voice;
Two glances which together would rejoice
In love, now lost like stars beyond dark trees;
Two hands apart whose touch alone gives ease;
Two bosoms which, heart-shrined with mutual flame,
Would, meeting in one clasp, be made the same;
Two souls, the shores wave-mocked of sundering seas:--

Such are we now. Ah! may our hope forecast
Indeed one hour again, when on this stream
Of darkened love once more the light shall gleam?--
An hour how slow to come, how quickly past,--
Which blooms and fades, and only leaves at last,
Faint as shed flowers, the attenuated dream.

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Silent Noon

Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass,--
The finger-points look through like rosy blooms:
Your eyes smile peace. The pasture gleams and glooms
'Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass.
All round our nest, far as the eye can pass,
Are golden kingcup-fields with silver edge
Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn-hedge.
'Tis visible silence, still as the hour-glass.

Deep in the sun-searched growths the dragon-fly
Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky:--
So this wing'd hour is dropt to us from above.
Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless dower,
This close-companioned inarticulate hour
When twofold silence was the song of love.

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