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Grundidee des Werkes, die zu den Leitsätzen der Präraphaeliten-Malerei gehört, ist auch der Dichtung Rossettis zu eigen; diese Direktheit schließt eine durch Gedrängtheit gelegentlich schwierige Symbolik der Bildersprache nicht aus, wohl aber jede Künstelei und leere Ornamentik. Das Geheimnis der magischen Wirkung dieser Poesie liegt in der Verinnerlichung der Stimmung, der unvergleichlichen Kraft dichterischer Vision und der direkten Auslösung der zentralsten ästhetischen Empfindung beim Hörer. Zu dieser Wesenssteigerung seiner Poesie hat zweifellos die Doppelnatur von Rossettis Genius beigetragen. Wie die Eigenart seiner Bilder auf dichterischer Phantasie beruht, verdanken umgekehrt seine Dichtungen die wundervolle Anschaulichkeit ihrer Vision dem gestaltenden Blicke des Malers. Von ideellen Beziehungen der beiden Künste in der geheimsten Schaffenssphäre ist hier die Rede, nicht von einer Vermengung ihrer Methoden im Sinne der malenden Pseudopoesie des 18. Jahrhunderts. Das tiefe Wort, das Rossetti über diese Beziehungen sagt, gilt von seinen eigenen Schöpfungen als Maler und als Dichter: "Picture and poem bear the same relation to each other as beauty does in man and woman: the point of meeting where the two are are most identical is the supreme perfection."

MY SISTER'S SLEEP.

[The Germ 1850.- "The poem was, I think, even earlier than The Blessed Damozel (1847)": W. M. R., Memoir pg. 107.]

SHE fell asleep on Christmas Eve.

At length the long-ungranted shade
Of weary eyelids overweigh'd
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 flame, by vents the fireshine drove
And reddened. In its dim alcove
The mirror shed a clearness round.

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.

Twelve struck. That sound, by dwindling years
Heard in each hour, crept off; and then
The ruffled silence spread again,
Like water that a pebble stirs.

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.

"Glory unto the Newly Born!"

So, as said angels, she did say, 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 stopped 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!"

THE BLESSED DAMOZEL.

[The Germ 1850.- Gedichtet "before 12 May, 1847". Memoir pg. 107.]

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 seven.

Her robe, ungirt from clasp to hem,
No wrought flowers did adorn,
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.

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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 midge.

Around her, lovers, newly met

'Mid deathless love's acclaims, Spoke evermore among themselves

Their heart-remembered 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

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