By Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

...Lest new shapes that sleep may send
Scatter all its work to flight;--
Master, master of the night,
Bid it spend
Speech, song, prayer, and end aright.
Yet, ah me! if at her head
There another phantom lean
Murmuring o'er the fragrant bed,--
Ah! and if my spirit's queen
Smile those alien prayers between,--
Ah! poor shade!
Shall it strive, or fade unseen?
How should love's own messenger
Strive with love and be love's foe?
Master, nay! If thus, in her,
Sleep a wedded heart should show,--
Silent let mine image go,
Its old share
Of thy spell-bound air to know.
Like a vapour wan and mute,
Like a flame, so let it pass;
One low sigh across her lute,
One dull breath against her glass;
And to my sad soul, alas!
One salute
Cold as when Death's foot shall pass.
Then, too, let all hopes of mine,
All vain hopes by night and day,
Slowly at thy summoning sign
Rise up pallid and obey.
Dreams, if this is thus, were they:--
Be they thine,
And to dreamworld pine away.
Yet from old time, life, not death,
Master, in thy rule is rife:
Lo! through thee, with mingling breath,
Adam woke beside his wife.
O Love bring me so, for strife,
Force and faith,
Bring me so not death but life!
Yea, to Love himself is pour'd
This frail song of hope and fear.
Thou art Love, of one accord
With kind Sleep to bring her near,
Still-eyed, deep-eyed, ah how dear.
Master, Lord,
In her name implor'd, O hear!


In an excerpt from Love's Nocturn by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, he seems to be imploring Love, personified here as a being rather than something inanimate, to help him win the affections of the woman that he, the narrator, desires. The poet speaks of dreams, and asks Love if it will go to the woman in a dream and put loving thoughts of the narrator into her head. If the woman, in her sleep, smiles and shows that her heart belongs to another, Rossetti's face will flee from her thoughts, and he will surrender her. The author says that perhaps his love is futile, but if Love gives him any sign of help, he will act upon the opportunity immediately. He asks Love that if ever it uses dreams to achieve its purpose, use them for Rossetti's sake to aid him in his quest for love. Just as God awakened Adam from a deep sleep to find Eve, the author wishes love to awaken itself within the soul and mind of the woman Rossetti cares for. Then he comments that his wishes are not for death, but for love and life. He is nervous about sharing his feelings, but has hope that happiness will find him, using dreams that Love will give the woman in her sleep to make her fall in love with Rossetti.

In the piece, the mechanical devices are minor and do not appear imperative to the poem. The rhyme scheme could be classified as an ababbab pattern, but because of the varying line lengths and complex speech patterns that the poet utilizes, the poem's meter appears erratic. There are a few examples of alliteration. "Lest new shapes that sleep may send," makes up the first line of the excerpt, and its several occurrences of the letter "s" give it the rhythm of a tongue twister. Other difficult lines to read include, "Sleep a wedded heart should show," (line 18). Also, in line 32, Rossetti says, Be they thine." In all, there are six examples of alliteration, four of which have "s" as the repeated first letter. Rossetti's other mechanical device usage includes slight repetition:

One low sigh across her lute,
One dull breath against her glass;
And to my sad soul, alas!
One salute
," (lines 22-25).

Love's Nocturn uses many figurative literary devices. Where in the mechanical aspect, the poem was lacking, in the figurative aspects almost all types of devices are represented. The entire chosen excerpt uses apostrophe, as the narrator is talking to Love and asking for help. Rossetti directly addresses Love by name, however, in lines 38-40. "O Love bring me so, for strife/Force and faith,/Bring me so not death but life!" It is not surprising that the poem in its entirety is an example of aforementioned apostrophe because Rossetti capitalizes Sleep, Love, and Death in the piece and assigns them wills, as if they can do with humans as they like. Also, the author personifies hope. "All vain hopes by night and day,/Slowly at thy summoning sign/Rise up pallid and obey," (lines 28-30).

Dante Gabriel Rossetti uses many allusions and similes, richly describing and speaking the 'language of one in love.' The first line of the excerpt is an allusion to dreams: "Lest new shapes that sleep may send." Later in the piece, the author even alludes to the Deuterocanonical book of Genesis in referring to Adam's awakening. Lastly, the poem has examples of simile: "Like a vapor wan and mute/like a flame so let it pass," (lines 20-21). As detailed in the above summary, the sentiment of the poem fits with the love and death theme. Rossetti feels that Love, the being, can affect love, the emotion, and asks it if it will bring, him, "not death but life!" (line 40). The poet seems to equate a life without love with death, and thus wishes Love to grant him "life!"

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