The Cloud Confines

By Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828–1882
The day is dark and the night
         To him that would search their heart;
         No lips of cloud that will part
Nor morning song in the light:
         Only, gazing alone,
         To him wild shadows are shown,
         Deep under deep unknown
And height above unknown height.
                Still we say as we go,i
                        "Strange to think by the way,
                Whatever there is to know,
                        That shall we know one day."

The Past is over and fled;
         Nam'd new, we name it the old;
         Thereof some tale hath been told,
But no word comes from the dead;
         Whether at all they be,
         Or whether as bond or free,
         Or whether they too were we,
Or by what spell they have sped.
                Still we say as we go,i
                        "Strange to think by the way,
                Whatever there is to know,
                        That shall we know one day."

What of the heart of hate
         That beats in thy breast, O Time?i
         Red strife from the furthest prime,
And anguish of fierce debate;
         War that shatters her slain,
         And peace that grinds them as grain,
         And eyes fix'd ever in vain
On the pitiless eyes of Fate.
                Still we say as we go,i
                        "Strange to think by the way,
                Whatever there is to know,
                        That shall we know one day."

What of the heart of love
         That bleeds in thy breast, O Man?i
         Thy kisses snatch'd 'neath the ban
Of fangs that mock them above;
         Thy bells prolong'd unto knells,
         Thy hope that a breath dispels,
         Thy bitter forlorn farewells
And the empty echoes thereof?
                Still we say as we go,i
                        "Strange to think by the way,
                Whatever there is to know,
                        That shall we know one day."

The sky leans dumb on the sea,
         Aweary with all its wings;
         And oh! the song the sea sings
Is dark everlastingly.
         Our past is clean forgot,
         Our present is and is not,
         Our future's a seal'd seedplot,
And what betwixt them are we?i
                We who say as we go,i
                        "Strange to think by the way,
                Whatever there is to know,
                           That shall we know one day."

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Poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828–1882

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Religion, Living, Stars, Planets, Heavens, Social Commentaries, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, War & Conflict, Faith & Doubt, Nature, Time & Brevity, Sorrow & Grieving

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Refrain

 Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Biography

Dante Gabriel Rossetti was born 12 May 1828 in London, the second child and eldest son of Italian expatriates. His father, Gabriele Rossetti, was a Dante scholar, who had been exiled from Naples for writing poetry in support of the Neapolitan Constitution of 1819. Rossetti’s mother had trained as a governess and supervised her children's early education. Few Victorian families were as gifted as the Rossettis: the oldest child, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Living, Stars, Planets, Heavens, Social Commentaries, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, War & Conflict, Faith & Doubt, Nature, Time & Brevity, Sorrow & Grieving

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Refrain

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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