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Christina rossetti 3

Christina Georgina Rossetti

POEMS
FOLLOWERS
5

The earth was green, the sky was blue:
I saw and heard one sunny morn,
A skylark hang between the two,
A singing speck above the corn;

A stage below, in gay accord,
White butterflies danced on the wing,
And still the singing skylark soared,
And silent sank and soared to sing.

The cornfield stretched a tender green
To right and left beside my walks;
I knew he had a nest unseen
Somewhere among the million stalks:

And as I paused to hear his song,
While swift the sunny moments slid,
Perhaps his mate sat listening long,
And listened longer than I did.

Two doves upon the selfsame branch,
Two lilies on a single stem,
Two butterflies upon one flower:—
Oh happy they who look on them.

Who look upon them hand in hand
Flushed in the rosy summer light;
Who look upon them hand in hand
And never give a thought to night.

I loved you first: but afterwards your love
    Outsoaring mine, sang such a loftier song
As drowned the friendly cooings of my dove.
    Which owes the other most? my love was long,
    And yours one moment seemed to wax more strong;
I loved and guessed at you, you construed me
And loved me for what might or might not be—
    Nay, weights and measures do us both a wrong.
For verily love knows not ‘mine’ or ‘thine;’
    With separate ‘I’ and ‘thou’ free love has done,
         For one is both and both are one in love:
Rich love knows nought of ‘thine that is not mine;’
         Both have the strength and both the length thereof,
Both of us, of the love which makes us one.

A fool I was to sleep at noon,
         And wake when night is chilly
Beneath the comfortless cold moon;
A fool to pluck my rose too soon,
         A fool to snap my lily.

My garden—plot I have not kept;
         Faded and all—forsaken,
I weep as I have never wept:
Oh it was summer when I slept,
         It’s winter now I waken.

Talk what you please of future spring
         And sun—warm’d sweet to—morrow:—
Stripp’d bare of hope and everything,
No more to laugh, no more to sing,
         I sit alone with sorrow.

Frost—locked all the winter,
Seeds, and roots, and stones of fruits,
What shall make their sap ascend
That they may put forth shoots?
Tips of tender green,
Leaf, or blade, or sheath;
Telling of the hidden life
That breaks forth underneath,
Life nursed in its grave by Death.

Blows the thaw—wind pleasantly,
Drips the soaking rain,
By fits looks down the waking sun:
Young grass springs on the plain;
Young leaves clothe early hedgerow trees;
Seeds, and roots, and stones of fruits,
Swollen with sap put forth their shoots;
Curled—headed ferns sprout in the lane;
Birds sing and pair again.

There is no time like Spring,
When life’s alive in everything,
Before new nestlings sing,
Before cleft swallows speed their journey back
Along the trackless track—
God guides their wing,
He spreads their table that they nothing lack,—
Before the daisy grows a common flower
Before the sun has power
To scorch the world up in his noontide hour.

There is no time like Spring,
Like Spring that passes by;
There is no life like Spring—life born to die, —
Piercing the sod,
Clothing the uncouth clod,
Hatched in the nest,
Fledged on the windy bough,
Strong on the wing:
There is no time like Spring that passes by,
Now newly born, and now
Hastening to die.

Rosy maiden Winifred,
With a milkpail on her head,
Tripping through the corn,
While the dew lies on the wheat
In the sunny morn.
Scarlet shepherd’s—weatherglass
Spreads wide open at her feet
As they pass;
Cornflowers give their almond smell
While she brushes by,
And a lark sings from the sky
‘All is well.’

A baby’s cradle with no baby in it,
A baby’s grave where autumn leaves drop sere;
The sweet soul gathered home to Paradise,
The body waiting here.

A song in a cornfield
Where corn begins to fall,
Where reapers are reaping,
Reaping one, reaping all.
Sing pretty Lettice,
Sing Rachel, sing May;
Only Marian cannot sing
While her sweetheart’s away.

Where is he gone to
And why does he stay?
He came across the green sea
But for a day,
Across the deep green sea
To help with the hay.

His hair was curly yellow
And his eyes were grey,
He laughed a merry laugh
And said a sweet say.
Where is he gone to
That he comes not home?
To—day or to—morrow
He surely will come.
Let him haste to joy
Lest he lag for sorrow,
For one weeps to—day
Who’ll not weep to—morrow:
To—day she must weep
For gnawing sorrow,
To—night she may sleep
And not wake to—morrow.

May sang with Rachel
In the waxing warm weather,
Lettice sang with them,
They sang all together:—

'Take the wheat in your arm
Whilst day is broad above,
Take the wheat to your bosom,
But not a false love.
Out in the fields
Summer heat gloweth,
Out in the fields
Summer wind bloweth,
Out in the fields
Summer friend showeth,
Out in the fields
Summer wheat groweth;
But in the winter
When summer heat is dead
And summer wind has veered
And summer friend has fled,
Only summer wheat remaineth,
White cakes and bread.
Take the wheat, clasp the wheat
That’s food for maid and dove;
Take the wheat to your bosom,
But not a false false love.'

A silence of full noontide heat
Grew on them at their toil:
The farmer’s dog woke up from sleep,
The green snake hid her coil.
Where grass stood thickest, bird and beast
Sought shadows as they could,
The reaping men and women paused
And sat down where they stood;
They ate and drank and were refreshed,
For rest from toil is good.

While the reapers took their ease,
Their sickles lying by,
Rachel sang a second strain,
And singing seemed to sigh:—

‘There goes the swallow—
Could we but follow!
Hasty swallow stay,
Point us out the way;
Look back swallow, turn back swallow, stop swallow.

’There went the swallow—
Too late to follow:
Lost our note of way,
Lost our chance to—day;
Good bye swallow, sunny swallow, wise swallow.

‘After the swallow
All sweet things follow:
All things go their way,
Only we must stay,
Must not follow; good bye swallow, good swallow.’

Then listless Marian raised her head
Among the nodding sheaves;
Her voice was sweeter than that voice;
She sang like one who grieves:
Her voice was sweeter than its wont
Among the nodding sheaves;
All wondered while they heard her sing
Like one who hopes and grieves:—

‘Deeper than the hail can smite,
Deeper than the frost can bite,
Deep asleep through day and night,
Our delight.

’Now thy sleep no pang can break,
No to—morrow bid thee wake,
Not our sobs who sit and ache
For thy sake.

‘Is it dark or light below?
Oh, but is it cold like snow?
Dost thou feel the green things grow
Fast or slow?

’Is it warm or cold beneath,
Oh, but is it cold like death?
Cold like death, without a breath,
Cold like death?'

If he comes to—day
He will find her weeping;
If he comes to—morrow
He will find her sleeping;
If he comes the next day
He’ll not find her at all,
He may tear his curling hair,
Beat his breast and call.

I love and love not: Lord, it breaks my heart
To love and not to love.
Thou veiled within Thy glory, gone apart
Into Thy shrine, which is above,
Dost Thou not love me, Lord, or care
For this mine ill?—
I love thee here or there,
I will accept thy broken heart, lie still.

Lord, it was well with me in time gone by
That cometh not again,
When I was fresh and cheerful, who but I?
I fresh, I cheerful: worn with pain
Now, out of sight and out of heart;
O Lord, how long?—
I watch thee as thou art,
I will accept thy fainting heart, be strong.

‘Lie still,’ ‘be strong,’ to—day; but, Lord, to—morrow,
What of to—morrow, Lord?
Shall there be rest from toil, be truce from sorrow,
Be living green upon the sward
Now but a barren grave to me,
Be joy for sorrow?—
Did I not die for thee?
Did I not live for thee? Leave Me to—morrow.

A house of cards
Is neat and small:
Shake the table,
It must fall.
Find the Court cards
One by one;
Raise it, roof it, —
Now it’s done: —
Shake the table!
That’s the fun.

It’s a weary life, it is, she said:
Doubly blank in a woman’s lot:
I wish and I wish I were a man:
Or, better then any being, were not:

Were nothing at all in all the world,
Not a body and not a soul:
Not so much as a grain of dust
Or a drop of water from pole to pole.

Still the world would wag on the same,
Still the seasons go and come:
Blossoms bloom as in days of old,
Cherries ripen and wild bees hum.

None would miss me in all the world,
How much less would care or weep:
I should be nothing, while all the rest
Would wake and weary and fall asleep.

1

I

I nursed it in my bosom while it lived,
I hid it in my heart when it was dead;
In joy I sat alone, even so I grieved
Alone and nothing said.

I shut the door to face the naked truth,
I stood alone—I faced the truth alone,
Stripped bare of self—regard or forms or ruth
Till first and last were shown.

I took the perfect balances and weighed;
No shaking of my hand disturbed the poise;
Weighed, found it wanting: not a word I said,
But silent made my choice.

None know the choice I made; I make it still.
None know the choice I made and broke my heart,
Breaking mine idol: I have braced my will
Once, chosen for once my part.

I broke it at a blow, I laid it cold,
Crushed in my deep heart where it used to live.
My heart dies inch by inch; the time grows old,
Grows old in which I grieve.

II

I have a room whereinto no one enters
Save I myself alone:
There sits a blessed memory on a throne,
There my life centres.

While winter comes and goes—oh tedious comer!—
And while its nip—wind blows;
While bloom the bloodless lily and warm rose
Of lavish summer.

If any should force entrance he might see there
One buried yet not dead,
Before whose face I no more bow my head
Or bend my knee there;

But often in my worn life’s autumn weather
I watch there with clear eyes,
And think how it will be in Paradise
When we’re together.