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Christina rossetti 3

Christina Georgina Rossetti

POEMS
FOLLOWERS
5

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.

Roses blushing red and white,
For delight;
Honeysuckle wreaths above,
For love;
Dim sweet—scented heliotrope,
For hope;
Shining lilies tall and straight,
For royal state;
Dusky pansies, let them be
For memory;
With violets of fragrant breath,
For death.

The sunrise wakes the lark to sing,
The moonrise wakes the nightingale.
Come darkness, moonrise, everything
That is so silent, sweet, and pale,
Come, so ye wake the nightingale.

Make haste to mount, thou wistful moon,
Make haste to wake the nightingale:
Let silence set the world in tune
To hearken to that wordless tale
Which warbles from the nightingale.

O herald skylark, stay thy flight
One moment, for a nightingale
Floods us with sorrow and delight.
To—morrow thou shalt hoist the sail;
Leave us tonight the nightingale.

Hop—o’—my—thumb and little Jack Horner,
What do you mean by tearing and fighting?
Sturdy dog Trot close round the corner,
I never caught him growling and biting.

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.

I am pale with sick desire,
For my heart is far away
From this world’s fitful fire
And this world’s waning day;
In a dream it overleaps
A world of tedious ills
To where the sunshine sleeps
On th’ everlasting hills.
Say the Saints—There Angels ease us
Glorified and white.
They say—We rest in Jesus,
Where is not day nor night.

My Soul saith—I have sought
For a home that is not gained,
I have spent yet nothing bought,
Have laboured but not attained;
My pride strove to rise and grow,
And hath but dwindled down;
My love sought love, and lo!
Hath not attained its crown.
Say the Saints—Fresh Souls increase us,
None languish nor recede.
They say—We love our Jesus,
And He loves us indeed.

I cannot rise above,
I cannot rest beneath,
I cannot find out Love,
Nor escape from Death;
Dear hopes and joys gone by
Still mock me with a name;
My best beloved die
And I cannot die with them.
Say the Saints—No deaths decrease us,
Where our rest is glorious.
They say—We live in Jesus,
Who once died for us.

Oh, my Soul, she beats her wings
And pants to fly away
Up to immortal Things
In the Heavenly day:
Yet she flags and almost faints;
Can such be meant for me?
Come and see—say the Saints.
Saith Jesus—Come and see.
Say the Saints—His Pleasures please us
Before God and the Lamb.
Come and taste My Sweets—saith Jesus—
Be with Me where I am.

Sleep, little Baby, sleep,
The holy Angels love thee,
And guard thy bed, and keep
A blessed watch above thee.
No spirit can come near
Nor evil beast to harm thee:
Sleep, Sweet, devoid of fear
Where nothing need alarm thee.

The Love which doth not sleep,
The eternal arms around thee:
The shepherd of the sheep
In perfect love has found thee.
Sleep through the holy night,
Christ—kept from snare and sorrow,
Until thou wake to light
And love and warmth to—morrow.

Hear now a curious dream I dreamed last night
Each word whereof is weighed and sifted truth.

I stood beside Euphrates while it swelled
Like overflowing Jordan in its youth:
It waxed and coloured sensibly to sight;
Till out of myriad pregnant waves there welled
Young crocodiles, a gaunt blunt—featured crew,
Fresh—hatched perhaps and daubed with birthday dew.
The rest if I should tell, I fear my friend
My closest friend would deem the facts untrue;
And therefore it were wisely left untold;
Yet if you will, why, hear it to the end.

Each crocodile was girt with massive gold
And polished stones that with their wearers grew:
But one there was who waxed beyond the rest,
Wore kinglier girdle and a kingly crown,
Whilst crowns and orbs and sceptres starred his breast.
All gleamed compact and green with scale on scale,
But special burnishment adorned his mail
And special terror weighed upon his frown;
His punier brethren quaked before his tail,
Broad as a rafter, potent as a flail.
So he grew lord and master of his kin:
But who shall tell the tale of all their woes?
An execrable appetite arose,
He battened on them, crunched, and sucked them in.
He knew no law, he feared no binding law,
But ground them with inexorable jaw:
The luscious fat distilled upon his chin,
Exuded from his nostrils and his eyes,
While still like hungry death he fed his maw;
Till every minor crocodile being dead
And buried too, himself gorged to the full,
He slept with breath oppressed and unstrung claw.
Oh marvel passing strange which next I saw:
In sleep he dwindled to the common size,
And all the empire faded from his coat.
Then from far off a winged vessel came,
Swift as a swallow, subtle as a flame:
I know not what it bore of freight or host,
But white it was as an avenging ghost.
It levelled strong Euphrates in its course;
Supreme yet weightless as an idle mote
It seemed to tame the waters without force
Till not a murmur swelled or billow beat:
Lo, as the purple shadow swept the sands,
The prudent crocodile rose on his feet
And shed appropriate tears and wrung his hands.

What can it mean? you ask. I answer not
For meaning, but myself must echo, What?
And tell it as I saw it on the spot.

What will you give me for my pound?
Full twenty shillings round.
What will you give me for my shilling?
Twelve pence to give I’m willing.
What will you give me for my penny?
Four farthings, just so many.

Lord Jesus, who would think that I am Thine?
Ah, who would think
Who sees me ready to turn back or sink,
That Thou art mine?

I cannot hold Thee fast though Thou art mine:
Hold Thou me fast,
So earth shall know at last and heaven at last
That I am Thine.

Strike the bells wantonly,
Tinkle tinkle well;
Bring me wine, bring me flowers,
Ring the silver bell.
All my lamps burn scented oil,
Hung on laden orange—trees,
Whose shadowed foliage is the foil
To golden lamps and oranges.
Heap my golden plates with fruit,
Golden fruit, fresh—plucked and ripe;
Strike the bells and breathe the pipe;
Shut out showers from summer hours—
Silence that complaining lute—
Shut out thinking, shut out pain,
From hours that cannot come again.

Strike the bells solemnly,
Ding dong deep:
My friend is passing to his bed,
Fast asleep;
There’s plaited linen round his head,
While foremost go his feet—
His feet that cannot carry him.
My feast’s a show, my lights are dim;
Be still, your music is not sweet,—
There is no music more for him:
His lights are out, his feast is done;
His bowl that sparkled to the brim
Is drained, is broken, cannot hold;
My blood is chill, his blood is cold;
His death is full, and mine begun.

Herself a rose, who bore the Rose,
She bore the Rose and felt its thorn.
All loveliness new—born
Took on her bosom its repose,
And slept and woke there night and morn.
Lily herself, she bore the one
Fair Lily; sweeter, whiter, far
Than she or others are:
The Sun of Righteousness her Son,
She was His morning star.
She gracious, He essential Grace,
He was the Fountain, she the rill:
Her goodness to fulfil
And gladness, with proportioned pace
He led her steps through good and ill.
Christ’s mirror she of grace and love,
Of beauty and of life and death:
By hope and love and faith
Transfigured to His likeness, ‘Dove,
Spouse, Sister, Mother,’ Jesus saith.