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

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
The Card-Dealer
By Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882)
COULD you not drink her gaze like wine?
  Yet though its splendor swoon
Into the silence languidly
  As a tune into a tune,
Those eyes unravel the coiled nigh        5
  And know the stars at noon.
The gold that’s heaped beside her hand,
  In truth rich prize it were;
And rich the dreams that wreathe her brows
  With magic stillness there;        10
And he were rich who should unwind
  That woven golden hair.
Around her, where she sits, the dance
  Now breathes its eager heat;
And not more lightly or more true        15
  Fall there the dancers’ feet
Than fall her cards on the bright board
  As ’twere an heart that beat.
Her fingers let them softly through,
  Smooth polished silent things;        20
And each one as it falls reflects
  In swift light-shadowings,
Blood-red and purple, green and blue,
  The great eyes of her rings.
Whom plays she with? With thee, who lov’st        25
  Those gems upon her hand;
With me, who search her secret brows;
  With all men, blessed or banned.
We play together, she and we,
  Within a vain strange land:        30
A land without any order,—
  Day even as night (one saith),—
Where who lieth down ariseth not
  Nor the sleeper awakeneth;
A land of darkness as darkness itself        35
  And of the shadow of death.
What be her cards, you ask? Even these:—
  The heart, that doth but crave
More, having fed; the diamond,
  Skilled to make base seem brave;        40
The club, for smiting in the dark;
  The spade, to dig a grave.
And do you ask what game she plays?
  With me ’tis lost or won;
With thee it is playing still; with him        45
  It is not well begun;
But ’tis a game she plays with all
  Beneath the sway o’ the sun.
Thou seest the card that falls,—she knows
  The card that followeth:        50
Her game in thy tongue is called Life,
  As ebbs thy daily breath:
When she shall speak, thou’lt learn her tongue
  And know she calls it Death.

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