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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.

A hundred, a thousand to one; even so;
Not a hope in the world remained:
The swarming howling wretches below
Gained and gained and gained.

Skene looked at his pale young wife:—
‘Is the time come?’—'The time is come!'—
Young, strong, and so full of life:
The agony struck them dumb.

Close his arm about her now,
Close her cheek to his,
Close the pistol to her brow—
God forgive them this!

‘Will it hurt much?’—'No, mine own:
I wish I could bear the pang for both.'
‘I wish I could bear the pang alone:
Courage, dear, I am not loth.’

Kiss and kiss: ‘It is not pain
Thus to kiss and die.
One kiss more.’—'And yet one again.'—
‘Good—bye.’—'Good—bye.'

Mavel of marvels, if I myself shall behold
With mine own eyes my King in His city of gold;
Where the least of lambs is spotless white in the fold,
Where the least and last of saints in spotless white is stoled,
Where the dimmest head beyond a moon is aureoled.
O saints, my beloved, now mouldering to mould in the mould,
Shall I see you lift your heads, see your cerements unroll’d,
See with these very eyes? who now in darkness and cold
Tremble for the midnight cry, the rapture, the tale untold,—
The Bridegroom cometh, cometh, His Bride to enfold!

Cold it is, my beloved, since your funeral bell was toll’d:
Cold it is, O my King, how cold alone on the wold!

Contemptuous of his home beyond
The village and the village—pond,
A large—souled Frog who spurned each byway
Hopped along the imperial highway.

Nor grunting pig nor barking dog
Could disconcert so great a Frog.
The morning dew was lingering yet,
His sides to cool, his tongue to wet:
The night—dew, when the night should come,
A travelled Frog would send him home.

Not so, alas! The wayside grass
Sees him no more: not so, alas!
A broad—wheeled waggon unawares
Ran him down, his joys, his cares.
From dying choke one feeble croak
The Frog’s perpetual silence broke: —
‘Ye buoyant Frogs, ye great and small,
Even I am mortal after all!
My road to fame turns out a wry way;
I perish on the hideous highway;
Oh for my old familiar byway!’

The choking Frog sobbed and was gone;
The Waggoner strode whistling on.
Unconscious of the carnage done,
Whistling that Waggoner strode on —
Whistling (it may have happened so)
‘A froggy would a—wooing go.’
A hypothetic frog trolled he,
Obtuse to a reality.

O rich and poor, O great and small,
Such oversights beset us all.
The mangled Frog abides incog,
The uninteresting actual frog:
The hypothetic frog alone
Is the one frog we dwell upon.

My heart is like a singing bird
                  Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
                  Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
                  That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
                  Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a dais of silk and down;
                  Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
                  And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
                  In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
                  Is come, my love is come to me.

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.

January cold desolate;
February all dripping wet;
March wind ranges;
April changes;
Birds sing in tune
To flowers of May,
And sunny June
Brings longest day;
In scorched July
The storm—clouds fly
Lightning—torn;
August bears corn,
September fruit;
In rough October
Earth must disrobe her;
Stars fall and shoot
In keen November;
And night is long
And cold is strong
In bleak December.

The splendour of the kindling day,
The splendor of the setting sun,
These move my soul to wend its way,
And have done
With all we grasp and toil amongst and say.

The paling roses of a cloud,
The fading bow that arches space,
These woo my fancy toward my shroud,
Toward the place
Of faces veil’d, and heads discrown’d and bow’d.

The nation of the awful stars,
The wandering star whose blaze is brief,
These make me beat against the bars
Of my grief;
My tedious grief, twin to the life it mars.

O fretted heart toss’d to and fro,
So fain to flee, so fain to rest!
All glories that are high or low,
East or west,
Grow dim to thee who art so fain to go.

Oh what is that country
And where can it be,
Not mine own country,
But dearer far to me?
Yet mine own country,
If I one day may see
Its spices and cedars,
Its gold and ivory.

As I lie dreaming
It rises, that land:
There rises before me
Its green golden strand,
With its bowing cedars
And its shining sand;
It sparkles and flashes
Like a shaken brand.

Do angels lean nearer
While I lie and long?
I see their soft plumage
And catch their windy song,
Like the rise of a high tide
Sweeping full and strong;
I mark the outskirts
Of their reverend throng.

Oh what is a king here,
Or what is a boor?
Here all starve together,
All dwarfed and poor;
Here Death’s hand knocketh
At door after door,
He thins the dancers
From the festal floor.

Oh what is a handmaid,
Or what is a queen?
All must lie down together
Where the turf is green,
The foulest face hidden,
The fairest not seen;
Gone as if never,
They had breathed or been.

Gone from sweet sunshine
Underneath the sod,
Turned from warm flesh and blood
To senseless clod,
Gone as if never
They had toiled or trod,
Gone out of sight of all
Except our God.

Shut into silence
From the accustomed song,
Shut into solitude
From all earth’s throng,
Run down tho’ swift of foot,
Thrust down tho’ strong;
Life made an end of
Seemed it short or long.

Life made an end of,
Life but just begun,
Life finished yesterday,
Its last sand run;
Life new—born with the morrow,
Fresh as the sun:
While done is done for ever;
Undone, undone.

And if that life is life,
This is but a breath,
The passage of a dream
And the shadow of death;
But a vain shadow
If one considereth;
Vanity of vanities,
As the Preacher saith.

Out of the church she followed them
With a lofty step and mien:
His bride was like a village maid,
Maude Clare was like a queen.

“Son Thomas, ” his lady mother said,
With smiles, almost with tears:
“May Nell and you but live as true
As we have done for years;

“Your father thirty years ago
Had just your tale to tell;
But he was not so pale as you,
Nor I so pale as Nell.”

My lord was pale with inward strife,
And Nell was pale with pride;
My lord gazed long on pale Maude Clare
Or ever he kissed the bride.

“Lo, I have brought my gift, my lord,
Have brought my gift, ” she said:
To bless the hearth, to bless the board,
To bless the marriage—bed.

“Here’s my half of the golden chain
You wore about your neck,
That day we waded ankle—deep
For lilies in the beck:

“Here’s my half of the faded leaves
We plucked from the budding bough,
With feet amongst the lily leaves, —
The lilies are budding now.”

He strove to match her scorn with scorn,
He faltered in his place:
“Lady, ” he said, —“Maude Clare, ” he said, —
“Maude Clare, ”– and hid his face.

She turn’d to Nell: “My Lady Nell,
I have a gift for you;
Though, were it fruit, the blooms were gone,
Or, were it flowers, the dew.

“Take my share of a fickle heart,
Mine of a paltry love:
Take it or leave it as you will,
I wash my hands thereof.”

“And what you leave, ” said Nell, “I’ll take,
And what you spurn, I’ll wear;
For he’s my lord for better and worse,
And him I love Maude Clare.

“Yea, though you’re taller by the head,
More wise and much more fair:
I’ll love him till he loves me best,
Me best of all Maude Clare.

I never said I loved you, John:
Why will you tease me day by day,
And wax a weariness to think upon
With always “do” and “pray”?

You Know I never loved you, John;
No fault of mine made me your toast:
Why will you haunt me with a face as wan
As shows an hour-old ghost?

I dare say Meg or Moll would take
Pity upon you, if you’d ask:
And pray don’t remain single for my sake
Who can’t perform the task.

I have no heart?—Perhaps I have not;
But then you’re mad to take offence
That don’t give you what I have not got:
Use your common sense.

Let bygones be bygones:
Don’t call me false, who owed not to be true:
I’d rather answer “No” to fifty Johns
Than answer “Yes” to you.

Let’s mar our pleasant days no more,
Song-birds of passage, days of youth:
Catch at today, forget the days before:
I’ll wink at your untruth.

Let us strike hands as hearty friends;
No more, no less; and friendship’s good:
Only don’t keep in view ulterior ends,
And points not understood

In open treaty. Rise above
Quibbles and shuffling off and on:
Here’s friendship for you if you like; but love,—
No, thank you, John.

Jesus, do I love Thee?
Thou art far above me,
Seated out of sight
Hid in Heavenly Light
Of most highest height.
Martyred hosts implore Thee,
Seraphs fall before Thee,
Angels and Archangels,
Cherub throngs adore Thee;
Blessed She that bore Thee!
All the Saints approve Thee,
All the Virgins love Thee.
I show as a blot
Blood hath cleansed not,
As a barren spot
In Thy fruitful lot.
I, fig—tree fruit—unbearing;
Thou, righteous Judge unsparing:
What canst Thou do more to me
That shall not more undo me?
Thy Justice hath a sound—
Why cumbereth it the ground?
Thy Love with stirrings stronger
Pleads—Give it one year longer.
Thou giv’st me time: but who
Save Thou shall give me dew;
Shall feed my root with Blood,
And stir my sap for good?
Oh, by Thy Gifts that shame me,
Give more lest they condemn me:
Good Lord, I ask much of Thee,
But most I ask to love Thee;
Kind Lord, be mindful of me,
Love me, and make me love Thee.