Table of Contents   Previous Chapter   Next Chapter

CHRISTINA GEORGINA ROSSETTI

1830-1894

789                                               Bride Song

FROM THE PRINCES PROGRESS

TOO late for love, too late for joy,
  Too late, too late!
You loiterd on the road too long,
  You trifled at the gate:
The enchanted dove upon her branch
  Died without a mate;
The enchanted princess in her tower
  Slept, died, behind the grate;
Her heart was starving all this while
  You made it wait.
Ten years ago, five years ago,
  One year ago,
Even then you had arrived in time,
  Though somewhat slow;
Then you had known her living face
  Which now you cannot know:
The frozen fountain would have leapd.
  The buds gone on to blow,
The warm south wind would have awaked
  To melt the snow.
Is she fair now as she lies?
  Once she was fair;
Meet queen for any kingly king,
  With gold-dust on her hair.
Now there are poppies in her locks,
  White poppies she must wear;
Must wear a veil to shroud her face
  And the want graven there:
Or is the hunger fed at length,
  Cast off the care?
We never saw her with a smile
  Or with a frown;
Her bed seemd never soft to her;
  Though tossd of down;
She little heeded what she wore,
  Kirtle, or wreath, or gown;
We think her white brows often ached
  Beneath her crown,
Till silvery hairs showd in her locks
  That used to be so brown.
We never heard her speak in haste:
  Her tones were sweet,
And modulated just so much
  As it was meet:
Her heart sat silent through the noise
  And concourse of the street.
There was no hurry in her hands,
  No hurry in her feet;
There was no bliss drew nigh to her,
  That she might run to greet.
You should have wept her yesterday,
  Wasting upon her bed:
But wherefore should you weep to-day
  That she is dead?
Lo, we who love weep not to-day,
  But crown her royal head.
Let be these poppies that we strew,
  Your roses are too red:
Let be these poppies, not for you
  Cut down and spread.

790                                              A Birthday

MY heart is like a singing bird
  Whose nest is in a waterd shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
  Whose boughs are bent with thick-set 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 daëis 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.

791                                                  Song

WHEN I am dead, my dearest,
  Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
  Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
  With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
  And if thou wilt, forget.
I shall not see the shadows,
  I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
  Sing on, as if in pain;
And dreaming through the twilight
  That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
  And haply may forget.

792                                                  Twice

I TOOK my heart in my hand
  (O my love, O my love),
I said: Let me fall or stand,
  Let me live or die,
But this once hear me speak
  (O my love, O my love)
Yet a womans words are weak;
  You should speak, not I.
You took my heart in your hand
  With a friendly smile,
With a critical eye you scannd,
  Then set it down,
And said, It is still unripe,
  Better wait awhile;
Wait while the skylarks pipe,
  Till the corn grows brown.
As you set it down it broke
  Broke, but I did not wince;
I smiled at the speech you spoke,
  At your judgement I heard:
But I have not often smiled
  Since then, nor questiond since,
Nor cared for cornflowers wild,
  Nor sung with the singing bird.
I take my heart in my hand,
  O my God, O my God,
My broken heart in my hand:
  Thou hast seen, judge Thou.
My hope was written on sand,
  O my God, O my God:
Now let thy judgement stand
  Yea, judge me now.
This contemnd of a man,
  This marrd one heedless day,
This heart take thou to scan
  Both within and without:
Refine with fire its gold,
  Purge Thou its dross away
Yea, hold it in Thy hold,
  Whence none can pluck it out.
I take my heart in my hand
  I shall not die, but live
Before Thy face I stand;
  I, for Thou callest such:
All that I have I bring,
  All that I am I give,
Smile Thou and I shall sing,
  But shall not question much.

793                                                 Uphill

DOES the road wind uphill all the way?
  Yes, to the very end.
Will the days journey take the whole long day?
  From morn to night, my friend.
But is there for the night a resting-place?
  A roof for when the slow, dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
  You cannot miss that inn.
Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
  Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
  They will not keep you waiting at that door.
Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
  Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
  Yea, beds for all who come.

794                                                   Remember

REMEMBER me when I am gone away,
  Gone far away into the silent land;
  When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
  You tell me of our future that you plannd:
  Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
  And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
  For if the darkness and corruption leave
  A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
  Than that you should remember and be sad.

795                                                   Aloof

THE irresponsive silence of the land,
  The irresponsive sounding of the sea,
  Speak both one message of one sense to me:
Aloof, aloof, we stand aloof, so stand
Thou too aloof, bound with the flawless band
  Of inner solitude; we bind not thee;
  But who from thy self-chain shall set thee free?
What heart shall touch thy heart? What hand thy hand?
And I am sometimes proud and sometimes meek,
  And sometimes I remember days of old
When fellowship seemd not so far to seek,
  And all the world and I seemd much less cold,
  And at the rainbows foot lay surely gold,
And hope felt strong, and life itself not weak.

796                                                  Rest

O EARTH, lie heavily upon her eyes;
  Seal her sweet eyes weary of watching, Earth;
  Lie close around her; leave no room for mirth
With its harsh laughter, nor for sound of sighs.
She hath no questions, she hath no replies,
  Hushd in and curtaind with a blessàed dearth
  Of all that irkd her from the hour of birth;
With stillness that is almost Paradise.
Darkness more clear than noonday holdeth her,
  Silence more musical than any song;
Even her very heart has ceased to stir:
Until the morning of Eternity
Her rest shall not begin nor end, but be;
  And when she wakes she will not think it long.

 

Table of Contents   Previous Chapter   Next Chapter