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strong in the matter of heroic and vehement hatreds and love, the tragic Mary herself being but the perfect blossom of them; and it is from that history that Rossetti has taken the subjects of the two longer ballads of his second volume : of the three admirable ballads in it, The King's Tragedy (in which Rossetti has dexter. ously interwoven some relics of James's own exquisite early verse) reaching the highest level of dramatic success, and marking persection, perhaps, in this kind of poetry ; which, in the earlier volume, gave us, among other pieces, Troy Town, Sister Helen, and Eden Bower.
Like those earlier pieces, the ballads of the second volume bring with them the question of the poetic value of the 'refrain'
• Eden bower's in flower:
-and the like. Two of those ballads—Troy Town and Eden Bower, are terrible in theme ; and the refrain serves, perhaps, to relieve their bold aim at the sentiment of terror. In Sister Helen again, it has a real, sustained purpose (being here duly varied also) and performs the part of a chorus, as the story proceeds. Yet even in these cases, whatever its effect may be in actual recitation, it may indeed be questioned, whether, to the mere reader their actual effect is not that of a positive interruption and drawback, at least in pieces so lengthy; and Rossetti himself, it would seem, came to think so, for in the shortest of his later ballads, The White Ship--that old true history of the generosity with which a youth, worthless in life, flung himself upon death-he has contented himself with a single utterance of the refrain, 'given out' like the key-note or tune of a chant.
In The King's Tragedy, Rossetti has worked upon a motive, broadly human, in the phrase of popular criticism, such as one and all may realise. Rossetti, indeed, with all his self-concentration upon his own circle of work, by no means ignored those general interests which are external to poetry as he conceived it; as he has shown here and there, in this poetic, as also in pictorial, work. It was but that, in a life to be shorter even than the average, he found enough to occupy him in the fulfilment of a task, plainly 'given him to do.' Perhaps, if one had to name a single composition of his to a reader who desired to make acquaintance with him for the first time, it is The King's Tragedy one would selectthat poem so moving, so popularly dramatic and lifelike. Not:
withstanding this, his work, it must be conceded, certainly through no narrowness or egotism, but in the faithfulness of a true workman to a vocation so emphatic, was mainly of the esoteric order. But poetry, at all times, exercises two distinct functions : it may reveal, it may unveil to every eye, the ideal aspects of common things, after Gray's way (though Gray too, it is well to remember, seemed in his own day, seemed even to Johnson, obscure) or it may actually add to the number of motives poetic and uncommon in themselves, by the imaginative creation of things, ideal from their very birth. Rossetti did something, something excellent, of the former kind ; but his characteristic, his really revealing work, lay in the adding to poetry of fresh poetic material, of a new order of phenomena, in the creation of a new ideal.
WALTER H. PATER,
THE BLESSED DAMOZEL.
The blessed damozel leaned out
From the gold bar of Heaven;
Of waters stilled at even ;
And the stars in her hair were seven
Her robe, ungirt from clasp to hem,
No wrought flowers did adorn,
For service meetly worn;
Was yellow like ripe corn.
Herseemed she scarce had been a day
One of God's choristers ;
From that still look of hers ;
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.
The whole year sets apace.)
It was the rampart of God's house
That she was standing on ;
The which is Space begun ;
She scarce could see the sun.
It lies in Heaven, across the flood
Of ether, as a bridge.
With flame and darkness ridge
Spins like a fretful midge.
Heard hardly, some of her new friends
Amid their loving games
Their virginal chaste names ;
Went by her like thin flames.
And still she bowed herself and stooped
Out of the circling charm ;
The bar she leaned on warm,
Along her bended arm.
From the fixed place of Heaven she saw
Time like a pulse shake fierce
Within the gulf to pierce
The stars sang in their spheres.
The sun was gone now; the curled moon
Was like a little feather
She spoke through the still weather.
Had when they sang together. (Ah sweet! Even now, in that bird's song,
Strove not her accents there,
Possessed the mid-day air,
• 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 ?
And shall I feel afraid ?
“When round his head the aureole clings,
And he is clothed in white,
To the deep wells of light ;
And bathe there in God's sight.
"We two will stand beside the shrine,
Occult, withheld, untrod,
With prayer sent up to God ;
Each like a little cloud.
“We two will lie i’ the shadow of
That living mystic tree
Is sometimes felt to be,
Saith His Name audibly.
* And I myself will teach to him,
I myself, lying so,
Shall pause in, hushed and slow,
Or some new thing to know.'
Yea, one wast thou with me
To endless unity
(Vas but its love for thee?)