Biography

Christina Rossetti
Religious poems

Goblin market

Christina Rossetti
In het Nederlands

Christina Rossetti - Poetry
Christina Rossetti
Christina (Georgina) Rossetti
(1830-1894)
English poetess
Pseudonym Ellen Alleyn

Where are the songs I used to know,
Where are the notes I used to sing ?
I have forgotten everything
I used to know so long ago...

SONG

OH ! roses for the flush of youth, And laurel for the perfect prime; But pluck an ivy-branch for me, Grown old before my time. Oh ! violets for the grave of youth, And bay for those dead in their prime ; Give me the withered leaves I chose Before in the olden time.

First published in The Germ
under the pseudonym Ellen Alleyne

roses: symbols of love
laurel: symbol of glory
ivy-branch: symbol of fidelity and wedded love
violets: symbols of faithfulness, modesty
    and maidenhood
bay: symbolizes fame



I WISH

Era gia l’ora che volge il desio.
Dante
Ricorro al tempo ch’io vi vidi prima.
Petrarca
I wish I could remember that first day, First hour, first moment of your meeting me, If bright or dim the season, it might be Summer or Winter for aught I can say; So unrecorded did it slip away, So blind was I to see and to foresee, So dull to mark the budding of my tree That would not blossom yet for many a May. If only I could recollect it, such A day of days! I let it come and go As traceless as a thaw of bygone snow; It seemed to mean so little, meant so much; If only now I could recall that touch, First touch of hand in hand – Did one but know!

DREAM LAND

Where sunless rivers weep
Their waves into the deep,
She sleeps a charmed sleep:
     Awake her not.
Led by a single star,
     She came from very far
To seek where shadows are
     Her pleasant lot.

She left the rosy morn,
She left the fields of corn,
For twilight cold and lorn
     And water springs.
Through sleep, as through a veil,
She sees the sky look pale,
And hears the nightingale
     That sadly sings.

Rest, rest, a perfect rest
Shed over brow and breast;
Her face is toward the west,
     The purple land.
She cannot see the grain
Ripening on hill and plain;
She cannot feel the rain
     Upon her hand.

Rest, rest, for evermore
Upon a mossy shore;
Rest, rest at the heart's core
     Till time shall cease:
Sleep that no pain shall wake;
Night that no morn shall break
Till joy shall overtake
     Her perfect peace.

First published in The Germ

A TRIAD

Three sang of love together: one with lips Crimson, with cheeks and bosom in a glow, Flushed to the yellow hair and finger-tips; And one there sang who soft and smooth as snow Bloomed like a tinted hyacinth at a show; And one was blue with famine after love, Who like a harpstring snapped rang harsh and low The burden of what those were singing of. One shamed herself in love; one temperately Grew gross in soulless love, a sluggish wife; One famished died for love. Thus two of three Took death for love and won him after strife; One droned in sweetness like a fattened bee: All on the threshold, yet all short of life.

From Goblin Market and other poems (1862)

WINTER: My Secret

I tell my secret? No indeed, not I: Perhaps some day, who knows? But not today; it froze, and blows and snows, And you’re too curious: fie! You want to hear it? well: Only, my secret’s mine, and I won’t tell. Or, after all, perhaps there’s none: Suppose there is no secret after all, But only just my fun. Today’s a nipping day, a biting day; In which one wants a shawl, A veil, a cloak, and other wraps: I cannot ope to everyone who taps, And let the draughts come whistling thro’ my hall; Come bounding and surrounding me, Come buffeting, astounding me, Nipping and clipping thro’ my wraps and all. I wear my mask for warmth: who ever shows His nose to Russian snows To be pecked at by every wind that blows? You would not peck? I thank you for good will, Believe, but leave the truth untested still. Spring’s an expansive time: yet I don’t trust March with its peck of dust, Nor April with its rainbow-crowned brief showers, Nor even May, whose flowers One frost may wither thro’ the sunless hours. Perhaps some languid summer day, When drowsy birds sing less and less, And golden fruit is ripening to excess, If there’s not too much sun nor too much cloud, And the warm wind is neither still nor loud, Perhaps my secret I may say, Or you may guess.

From Poems (1906)

MAY

I cannot tell you how it was,
But this I know: it came to pass
Upon a bright and sunny day
When May was young; ah, pleasant May !
As yet the poppies were not born
Between the blades of tender corn;
The last egg had not hatched as yet,
Nor any bird foregone its mate.

I cannot tell you what it was,
But this I know: it did but pass.
It passed away with sunny May,
Like all sweet things it passed away,
And left me old, and cold, and gray.

From Goblin Market and other poems (1862)

THE WORLD

By day she woos me, soft, exceeding fair: But all night as the moon so changeth she; Loathsome and foul with hideous leprosy And subtle serpents gliding in her hair. By day she woos me to the outer air, Ripe fruits, sweet flowers, and full satiety: But through the night, a beast she grins at me, A very monster void of love and prayer. By day she stands a lie: by night she stands In all the naked horror of the truth With pushing horns and clawed and clutching hands. Is this a friend indeed; that I should sell My soul to her, give her my life and youth, Till my feet, cloven too, take hold on hell ?

From Goblin Market and other Poems. Macmillan 1879.

SONG

She sat and sang alway By the green margin of a stream, Watching the fishes leap and play Beneath the glad sunbeam. I sat and wept alway Beneath the moon's most shadowy beam, Watching the blossoms of the May Weep leaves into the stream. I wept for memory; She sang for hope that is so fair: My tears were swallowed by the sea; Her songs died on the air.

From Goblin Market and other poems (1862)

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, Hushed in and curtained with a blessed dearth Of all that irked her from the hour of birth; With stillness that is almost Paradise. Darkness more clear than noon-day 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.

From Goblin Market and other poems (1862)

SAPPHO

I sigh at day-dawn, and I sigh
When the dull day is passing by.
I sigh at evening, and again
I sigh when night brings sleep to men.
Oh! it were far better to die
Than thus forever mourn and sigh,
And in death's dreamless sleep to be
Unconscious that none weep for me;
Eased from my weight of heaviness,
Forgetful of forgetfulness,
Resting from care and pain and sorrow
Thro' the long night that knows no morrow;
Living unloved, to die unknown,
Unwept, untended, and alone.

REQUIEM

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.

From Goblin Market and other poems (1862)

ECHO

Come to me in the silence of the night; Come in the speaking silence of a dream; Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright As sunlight on a stream; Come back in tears, O memory of hope, love of finished years. Oh dream how sweet, to sweet, too bitter sweet, Whose waking should have been in Paradise, Where souls brimfull of love abide and meet; Where thirsting longing eyes Watch the slow door That opening, letting in, lets out no more. Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live My life again tho' cold in death: Come back to me in dreams, that I may give Pulse for pulse, breath for breath: Speak low, lean low, As long ago, my love, how long ago.

THE FIRST DAY

I wish I could remember the first day, First hour, first moment of your meeting me; If bright or dim the season it might be; Summer or winter for aught I can say. So, unrecorded did it slip away, So blind was I to see and to forsee, So dull to mark the budding of my tree That would not blossom, yet, for many a May. If only I could recollect it! Such A day of days! I let it come and go As traceless as a thaw of bygone snow. It seemed to mean so little, meant so much ! If only now I could recall that touch, First touch of hand in hand ! - Did one but know !

SILENT NOON

Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass, - The finger-points look through like rosy blooms: Your eyes smile peace. The pasture gleams and glooms 'Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass. All round our nest, far as the eye can pass, Are golden kingcup-fields with silver edge Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn-hedge. 'Tis visible silence, still as the hour-glass. Deep in the sun-searched growths the dragon-fly Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky: - So this wing'd hour is dropt to us from above. Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless dower, This close-companioned inarticulate hour When twofold silence was the song of love.

A BIRTHDAY

My heart is like a singing bird
Whose heart is in a watered 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 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.

Two doves upon the selfsame branch

Two doves upon the selfsame branch, Two lilies on a single stem, Two butterflies upon one flower:-- O happy we 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.

IN AN ARTIST'S STUDIO

One face looks out from all his canvasses, One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans; We found her hidden just behind those screens, That mirror gave back all her loveliness. A queen in opal or in ruby dress, A nameless girl in freshest summer greens, A saint, an angel; - every canvass means The same one meaning, neither more nor less. He feeds upon her face by day and night, And she with true kind eyes looks back on him Fair as the moon and joyful as the light: Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim; Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright; Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.
From 'Other Poems'
Christina Rossetti (1877)
Portrait by Dante Rossetti

JEWELS

An emerald is as green as grass;
  A ruby red as blood;
A sapphire shines as blue as heaven;
  A flint lies in the mud.

A diamond is a brilliant stone,
  To catch the world's desire;
An opal holds a fiery spark;
  But a flint holds fire.

From Sing-Song (1893)

IN PROGRESS

Ten years ago it seemed impossible That she could ever grow as calm as this, With self-remembrance in her warmest kiss And dim dried eyes like an exhausted well. Slow-speaking when she has some fact to tell, Silent with long-unbroken silences, Centred in self yet not unpleased to please, Gravely monotonous like a passing bell. Mindful of drudging daily common things, Patient at pastime, patient at her work, Wearied perhaps but strenuous certainly. Sometimes I fancy we may one day see Her head shoot forth seven stars from where they lurk And her eyes lightning and her shoulders wings.

'In Progress' was written in 1862
and published in 1896

LAST NIGHT

Where were you last night? I watched at the gate; I went down early, I stayed down late. Were you snug at home, I should like to know, Or were you in the coppice wheedling Kate ? She's a fine girl, with a fine clear skin; Easy to woo, perhaps not hard to win. Speak up like a man and tell me the truth: I'm not one to grow downhearted and thin. If you love her best speak up like a man; It's not I will stand in the light of your plan: Some girls might cry and scold you a bit And say they couldn't bear it; but I can. Love was pleasant enough, and the days went fast; Pleasant while it lasted, but it needn't last; Awhile on the wax and awhile on the wane, Now dropped away into the past. Was it pleasant to you? to me it was; Now clean gone as an image from glass, As a goodly rainbow that fades away, As dew that steams upwards from the grass, As the first spring day, or the last summer day, As the sunset flush that leaves heaven grey, As a flame burnt out for lack of oil Which no pains relight or ever may. Good luck to Kate and good luck to you, I guess she'll be kind when you come to woo; I wish her a pretty face that will last, I wish her a husband steady and true. Hate you? not I, my very good friend; All things begin and all have an end. But let broken be broken; I put no faith In quacks who set up to patch and mend. Just my love and one word to Kate: Not to let time slip if she means to mate;— For even such a thing has been known As to miss the chance while we weigh and wait.

From 'Other Poems'

WILL YOU BE THERE ?

Will you be there? my yearning heart has cried: Ah me, my love, my love, shall I be there, To sit down in your glory and to share Your gladness, glowing as a virgin bride ? Or will another dearer, fairer-eyed, Sit nigher to you in your jubilee; And mindful one of other will you be Borne higher and higher on joy's ebbless tide ? — Yea, if I love I will not grudge you this: I too shall float upon that heavenly sea And sing my joyful praises without ache; Your overflow of joy shall gladden me, My whole heart shall sing praises for your sake And find its own fulfilment in your bliss.

From 'Other Poems'

UP-HILL

Does the road wind up-hill all the way ?
     Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's 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 standing 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.

A DAUGHTER OF EVE

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.

THE PRINCE'S PROGRESS (Excerpt)

"Too late for love, too late for joy, Too late, too late ! You loitered 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 leaped, 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 these 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 seemed never soft to her, Though tossed 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 showed 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."

SOMEWHERE OR OTHER

Somewhere or other there must surely be The face not seen, the voice not heard, The heart that not yet - never yet — ah me ! Made answer to my word. Somewhere or other, may be near or far; Past land and sea, clean out of sight; Beyond the wandering moon, beyond the star That tracks her night by night. Somewhere or other, may be far or near; With just a wall, a hedge, between; With just the last leaves of the dying year Fallen on a turf grown green.

From "The Prince's Progress and Other Poems"
(1866)

THE ROSE

The lily has a smooth stalk, Will never hurt your hand; But the rose upon her brier Is lady of the land. There's sweetness in an apple tree, And profit in the corn; But lady of all beauty Is a rose upon a thorn. When with moss and honey She tips her bending brier, And half unfolds her glowing heart, She sets the world on fire.

From 'Sing-Song - A Nursery Rhyme Book'
(1872 and 1893)

WHO HAS SEEN THE WIND ?

Who has seen the wind ? Neither I nor you: But when the leaves hang trembling The wind is passing thro'. Who has seen the wind ? Neither you nor I: But when the trees bow down their heads The wind is passing by.

From 'Sing-Song - A Nursery Rhyme Book'
(1872 and 1893)

TOUCHING 'NEVER'

Because you never yet have loved me, dear, Think you you never can nor ever will ? Surely while life remains hope lingers still, Hope the last blossom of life's dying year. Because the season and mine age grow sere, Shall never Spring bring forth her daffodil, Shall never sweeter Summer feast her fill Of roses with the nightingales they hear ? If you had loved me, I not loving you, If you had urged me with the tender plea Of what our unknown years to come might do (Eternal years, if Time should count too few), I would have owned the point you pressed on me, Was possible, or probable, or true.

From 'A Pageant and Other Poems' (1881)

THE THREAD OF LIFE

HE 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 seem'd not so far to seek, And all the world and I seem'd much less cold, And at the rainbow's foot lay surely gold, And hope felt strong, and life itself not weak.

From 'A Pageant and Other Poems' (1881)

PASSING AND GLASSING

All things that pass Are woman's looking-glass; They show her how her bloom must fade, And she herself be laid With withered roses in the shade; With withered roses and the fallen peach, Unlovely, out of reach Of summer joy that was. All things that pass Are woman's tiring-glass; The faded lavender is sweet, Sweet the dead violet Culled and laid by and cared for yet; The dried-up violets and dried lavender Still sweet, may comfort her, Nor need she cry Alas ! All things that pass Are wisdom's looking-glass; Being full of hope and fear, and still Brimful of good or ill, According to our work and will; For there is nothing new beneath the sun; Our doings have been done, And that which shall be was.

From 'A Pageant and Other Poems' (1881)

A PRODIGAL SON

Does that lamp still burn in my Father's house, Which he kindled the night I went away ? I turned once beneath the cedar boughs, And marked it gleam with a golden ray; Did he think to light me home some day ? Hungry here with the crunching swine, Hungry harvest have I to reap; In a dream I count my Father's kine, I hear the tinkling bells of his sheep, I watch his lambs that browse and leap. There is plenty of bread at home, His servants have bread enough and to spare; The purple wine-fat froths with foam, Oil and spices make sweet the air, While I perish hungry and bare. Rich and blessed those servants, rather Than I who see not my Father's face ! I will arise and go to my Father:— "Fallen from sonship, beggared of grace, Grant me. Father, a servant's place."

From 'A Pageant and Other Poems' (1881)

Soeur Louise de la Misericorde (1674)

I have desired, and I have been desired; But now the days are over of desire, Now dust and dying embers mock my fire; Where is the hire for which my life was hired ? Oh vanity of vanities, desire ! Longing and love, pangs of a perished pleasure, Longing and love, a disenkindled fire, And memory a bottomless gulf of mire, And love a fount of tears outrunning measure; Oh vanity of vanities, desire ! Now from my heart, love's deathbed, trickles, trickles, Drop by drop slowly, drop by drop of fire, The dross of life, of love, of spent desire; Alas, my rose of life gone all to prickles,— Oh vanity of vanities, desire ! Oh vanity of vanities, desire; Stunting my hope which might have strained up higher, Turning my garden plot to barren mire; Oh death-struck love, oh disenkindled fire, Oh vanity of vanities, desire !

From 'A Pageant and Other Poems' (1881)

ONE SEA-SIDE GRAVE

Unmindful of the roses, Unmindful of the thorn, A reaper tired reposes Among his gathered corn: So might I, till the morn ! Cold as the cold Decembers, Past as the days that set, While only one remembers And all the rest forget, — But one remembers yet.

From 'Poems' (1888, 1890)

There is a Budding Morrow in Midnight

Wintry boughs against a wintry sky; Yet the sky is partly blue And the clouds are partly bright: — Who can tell but sap is mounting high Out of sight, Ready to burst through ? Winter is the mother-nurse of Spring, Lovely for her daughter's sake, Not unlovely for her own: For a future buds in everything; Grown, or blown, Or about to break.

From 'Poems' (1888 1890)

ROSES ON A BRIER

Pearls from out the bitter sea, Such is earth's desire However pure it be. Neither bud nor brier, Neither pearl nor brine for me: Be stilled my long desire; There shall be no more sea. Be stilled my passionate heart; Old earth shall end, new earth shall be: Be still and earn thy part Where shall be no more sea.

From 'Verses' (1893)

THE HALF MOON

The half moon shows a face of plaintive sweetness Ready and poised to wax or wane; A fire of pale desire in incompleteness, Tending to pleasure or to pain: — Lo, while we gaze she rolleth on in fleetness To perfect loss or perfect gain. Half bitterness we know, we know half sweetness; This world is all on wax, on wane: When shall completeness round time's incompleteness, Fulfilling joy, fulfilling pain ? — Lo, while we ask, life rolleth on in fleetness To finished loss or finished gain.

From 'Verses' (1893)

LAST NIGHT

Where were you last night? I watched at the gate; I went down early, I stayed down late. Were you snug at home, I should like to know, Or were you in the coppice wheedling Kate ? She's a fine girl, with a fine clear skin; Easy to woo, perhaps not hard to win. Speak up like a man and tell me the truth: I'm not one to grow downhearted and thin. If you love her best speak up like a man; It's not I will stand in the light of your plan: Some girls might cry and scold you a bit And say they couldn't bear it; but I can. Love was pleasant enough, and the days went fast; Pleasant while it lasted, but it needn't last; Awhile on the wax and awhile on the wane, Now dropped away into the past. Was it pleasant to you? to me it was; Now clean gone as an image from glass, As a goodly rainbow that fades away, As dew that steams upwards from the grass, As the first spring day, or the last summer day, As the sunset flush that leaves heaven grey, As a flame burnt out for lack of oil Which no pains relight or ever may. Good luck to Kate and good luck to you, I guess she'll be kind when you come to woo; I wish her a pretty face that will last, I wish her a husband steady and true. Hate you? not I, my very good friend; All things begin and all have an end. But let broken be broken; I put no faith In quacks who set up to patch and mend. Just my love and one word to Kate: Not to let time slip if she means to mate;— For even such a thing has been known As to miss the chance while we weigh and wait.

From 'Other Poems'

AN ECHO FROM WILLOWWOOD

"O ye, all ye that walk in Willowwood."  
      (D.G. Rossetti)
Two gazed into a pool, he gazed and she, Not hand in hand, yet heart in heart, I think, Pale and reluctant on the water's brink, As on the brink of parting which must be. Each eyed the other's aspect, she and he, Each felt one hungering heart leap up and sink, Each tasted bitterness which both must drink, There on the brink of life's dividing sea. Lilies upon the surface, deep below Two wistful faces craving each for each, Resolute and reluctant without speech: — A sudden ripple made the faces flow One moment joined, to vanish out of reach: So those hearts joined, and ah! were parted so.

From 'Other Poems'

WILL YOU BE THERE?

Will you be there? my yearning heart has cried: Ah me, my love, my love, shall I be there, To sit down in your glory and to share Your gladness, glowing as a virgin bride ? Or will another dearer, fairer-eyed, Sit nigher to you in your j ubilee; And mindful one of other will you be Borne higher and higher on joy's ebbless tide ? — Yea, if I love I will not grudge you this: I too shall float upon that heavenly sea And sing my joyful praises without ache; Your overflow of joy shall gladden me, My whole heart shall sing praises for your sake And find its own fulfilment in your bliss.

From 'Other Poems'

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 plann'd:
     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.

December 29, 1894

I WISH I WERE DEAD

I wish I were dead, my foe, My friend, I wish I were dead, With a stone at my tired feet With a stone at my head. In the pleasant April days Half the world will stir and sing, But half the world will slug and rot For all the sap of Spring.

AFTER DEATH

The curtains were half drawn, the floor was swept And strewn with rushes, rosemary and may Lay thick upon the bed on which I lay, Where through the lattice ivy-shadows crept. He leaned above me, thinking that I slept And could not hear him; but I heard him say: "Poor child, poor child:" and as he turned away Came a deep silence, and I knew he wept. He did not touch the shroud, or raise the fold That hid my face, or take my hand in his, Or ruffle the smooth pillows for my head: He did not love me living; but once dead He pitied me; and very sweet it is To know he still is warm though I am cold.

From "Goblin Market and Other Poems"



"Hope is like a harebell, trembling from its birth,

Love is like a rose, the joy of all the earth,

Faith is like a lily, lifted high and white,

Love is like a lovely rose, the world’s delight.

Harebells and sweet lilies show a thornless growth,

But the rose with all its thorns excels them both."





Christina Rossetti - Religious poems

Christina Rossetti - Goblin Market

Christina Rossetti - A Royal Princess

Christina Rossetti - Flowers

Dead Poetesses Society

Poetryweb (home)

Christina Rosseti at age 18 and 47
Sketches by her brother Dante   Christina Rosseti at age 18 and 47
Sketches by her brother Dante

Biography


Christina Rossetti was born in London (1830).  
Her father was a professor and a poet.  Three of his children 
also became writers and poets. Her brother Dante also gained 
fame as a painter.
She privately published her first collection of poems when 
she was only 17 years old. Under the pseudonym Ellen Alleyne, 
she contributed seven poems to the Pre-Raphaelite journal 
'The Germ' in 1850. Her first public poems appeared in the 
'Athenaeum' when she was eighteen.  She wrote prolifically 
throughout her life. With the publication of the erotic 'Goblin 
Market' (1862). Christina was established as one of the most 
significant poetesses of her time.
Many of Christina Rossetti’s writings reflect her deep religious 
devotion. She was a High Church Anglican and a disciple 
of Tractarianism (also known as the Oxford Movement). 
As a girl, Christina Rossetti was spirited, passionate, 
and even hot-tempered. Instead of blossoming into vivacious 
womanhood, however, the adolescent Christina sickened 
with an unexplained illness characterized by a suffocating 
sensation, chest pains and heart palpitations.  
At least one physician diagnosed her with the Victorian 
catch-all, hysteria. 
Returned to health, Christina became shy, restrained, prim, 
scrupulous and intensely devoted to her religion. 
This religious scrupulousness led Christina to reject two 
marriage proposals. In 1848 she became engaged to James 
Collinson, but broke the engagement when Collinson 
reverted to Roman Catholicism. In the 1860s he rejected 
a proposal from Charles Bagot Cayley, a translator of Dante. 
She enquired into his creed and found he was not a Christian.
In 1861 she saw a foreign country for the first time, paying 
a six weeks visit to Normandy and Paris. 
After her father’s death in 1854, Christina and her mother 
Frances Polidori lived with her brother William.  
When he married the agnostic Lucy Madox Brown (daughter 
of Ford Madox Brown) in 1874, Christina and Frances 
moved in with two Polidori aunts.
Her mother died in 1886 and Christina, who had been 
weakened and disfigured by Graves’ disease in 1871, 
continued to care for her aunts until their deaths in 1890 
and 1893.
From 1860 to 1870, Christina was an associate at St. Mary 
Magdelene’s at Highgate, a sisterhood devoted to redeeming 
fallen women, where her sister Maria was one of  the nuns.
Christina was also closely involved in promoting the Society 
for Promoting Christian Knowledge from the 1870s until just 
before her death from cancer on December 29, 1894.

Her most important works:

Christina Rossetti wrote roughly eleven hundred poems
that were eventually organized into collections.



Goblin market and other poems - 1862
The prince's progress and other poems - 1866
Commonplace and other short stories - 1870
Sing-Song: A nursery rhyme book - 1872
Seek and find - 1879
A pageant and other poems - 1881
Called to be saints: The minor festivals - 1881
Time flies - 1888
Poems 1888 - 1890
The face of the deep - 1892
Verses - 1893
New Poems - 1896


Her last residence in London
30 Torrington Square Bloomsbury





Christina Rossetti - A Royal Princess

Christina Rossetti - Goblin Market

Christina Rossetti - Religious poems

Christina Rossetti - Flowers

Christina Rossetti - In het Nederlands

Dead Poetesses Society

Dante Rossetti


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© Gaston D'Haese: 12-02-2002.
Update 20-10-2016.