Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse
  PREVIOUSNEXT  

CONTENTS · GENERAL INDEX · QUICK INDEX · SONGS & LYRICS · BIOGRAPHIES
READER’S DIGEST · STUDENT’S COURSE · PORTRAITS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Double Betrayal
By Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882)
 
From ‘Rose Mary’

SHE signed all folk from the threshold stone,
And gazed in the dead man’s face alone.
 
The fight for life found record yet
In the clenchèd lips and the teeth hard-set;
The wrath from the bent brow was not gone,        5
And stark in the eyes the hate still shone
Of that they last had looked upon.
 
The blazoned coat was rent on his breast
Where the golden field was goodliest;
But the shivered sword, close-gripped, could tell        10
That the blood shed round him where he fell
Was not all his in the distant dell.
 
The lady recked of the corpse no whit,
But saw the soul and spoke to it:
A light there was in her steadfast eyes,—        15
The fire of mortal tears and sighs
That pity and love immortalize.
 
“By thy death have I learnt to-day
Thy deed, O James of Heronhaye!
Great wrong thou hast done to me and mine;        20
And haply God hath wrought for a sign
By our blind deed this doom of thine.
 
“Thy shrift, alas! thou wast not to win;
But may death shrive thy soul herein!
Full well do I know thy love should be        25
Even yet—had life but stayed with thee—
Our honor’s strong security.”
 
She stooped, and said with a sob’s low stir,
“Peace be thine—but what peace for her?”
But ere to the brow her lips were pressed,        30
She marked, half hid in the riven vest,
A packet close to the dead man’s breast.
 
’Neath surcoat pierced and broken mail
It lay on the blood-stained bosom pale.
The clot clung round it, dull and dense,        35
And a faintness seized her mortal sense
As she reached her hand and drew it thence.
 
’Twas steeped in the heart’s flood welling high
From the heart it there had rested by;
’Twas glued to a broidered fragment gay,—        40
A shred by spear thrust rent away
From the heron wings of Heronhaye.
 
She gazed on the thing with piteous eyne:—
“Alas, poor child, some pledge of thine!
Ah me! in this troth the hearts were twain,        45
And one hath ebbed to this crimson stain,
And when shall the other throb again?”
 
She opened the packet heedfully;
The blood was stiff, and it scarce might be.
She found but a folded paper there,        50
And round it, twined with tenderest care,
A long bright tress of golden hair.
 
Even as she looked, she saw again
That dark-haired face in its swoon of pain:
It seemed a snake with a golden sheath        55
Crept near, as a slow flame flickereth,
And stung her daughter’s heart to death.
 
She loosed the tress, but her hand did shake
As though indeed she had touched a snake;
And next she undid the paper’s fold,        60
But that too trembled in her hold,
And the sense scarce grasped the tale it told.
 
“My heart’s sweet lord” (’twas thus she read),
“At length our love is garlanded.
At Holy Cross, within eight days’ space,        65
I seek my shrift; and the time and place
Shall fit thee too for thy soul’s good grace.
 
“From Holycleugh on the seventh day
My brother rides, and bides away;
And long or e’er he is back, mine own,        70
Afar where the face of fear’s unknown
We shall be safe with our love alone.
 
“Ere yet at the shrine my knees I bow,
I shear one tress for our holy vow.
As round these words these threads I wind,        75
So, eight days hence, shall our loves be twined,
Says my lord’s poor lady, JOCELIND.”
 
She read it twice, with a brain in thrall,
And then its echo told her all.
O’er brows low-fallen her hands she drew:—        80
“O God!” she said, as her hands fell too,—
“The Warden’s sister of Holycleugh!”
 
She rose upright with a long low moan,
And stared in the dead man’s face new-known.
Had it lived indeed? She scarce could tell:        85
’Twas a cloud where fiends had come to dwell,—
A mask that hung on the gate of hell.
 
She lifted the lock of gleaming hair,
And smote the lips and left it there.
“Here’s gold that Hell shall take for thy toll!        90
Full well hath thy treason found its goal,
O thou dead body and damnèd soul!”
 
She turned, sore dazed, for a voice was near,
And she knew that some one called to her.
On many a column fair and tall        95
A high court ran round the castle hall;
And thence it was that the priest did call.
 
“I sought your child where you bade me go,
And in rooms around and in rooms below;
But where, alas! may the maiden be?        100
Fear naught,—we shall find her speedily,—
But come, come hither, and seek with me.”
 
She reached the stair like a lifelorn thing,
But hastened upward murmuring:—
“Yea, Death’s is a face that’s fell to see;        105
But bitterer pang Life hoards for thee,
Thou broken heart of Rose Mary!”
 
 
CONTENTS · GENERAL INDEX · SONGS & LYRICS · BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY
READER’S DIGEST · STUDENT’S COURSE · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  PREVIOUSNEXT  
 

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.