Biography

C. Rossetti
English Poems

Goblin Market

C. Rossetti
In het Nederlands

Christina Georgina Rossetti - Religious poems

Christina Rossetti

Christina (Georgina) Rossetti - (1830-1894)
English poetess - Pseudonym Ellen Alleyn
Coloured chalks on paper by D. Rossetti

RELIGIOUS POEMS

PARADISE

Once in a dream I saw the flowers
  That bud and bloom in Paradise;
  More fair they are than waking eyes
Have seen in all this world of ours.
And faint the perfume-bearing rose,
  And faint the lily on its stem,
And faint the perfect violet
    Compared with them.

I heard the songs of Paradise:
  Each bird sat singing in his place;
  A tender song so full of grace
It soared like incense to the skies.
Each bird sat singing to his mate
  Soft-cooing notes among the trees:
The nightingale herself were cold
    To such as these.

I saw the fourfold River flow,
  And deep it was, with golden sand;
  It flowed between a mossy land
With murmured music grave and low.
It hath refreshment for all thirst,
  For fainting spirits strength and rest;
Earth holds not such a draught as this
    From east to west.

The Tree of Life stood budding there,
  Abundant with its twelvefold fruits;
  Eternal sap sustains its roots,
Its shadowing branches fill the air.
Its leaves are healing for the world,
  Its fruit the hungry world can feed,
Sweeter than honey to the taste,
    And balm indeed.

I saw the gate called Beautiful;
  And looked, but scarce could look within;
  I saw the golden streets begin,
And outskirts of the glassy pool.
Oh harps, oh crowns of plenteous stars,
  O green palm branches many-leaved—
Eye hath not seen, nor ear hath heard,
    Nor heart conceived!

I hope to see these things again,
  But not as once in dreams by night;
  To see them with my very sight,
And touch and handle and attain:
To have all Heaven beneath my feet
  For narrow way that once they trod;
To have my part with all the saints,
    And with my God.

From Poems


SWEET DEATH

The sweetest blossoms die.
And so it was that, going day by day
Unto the church to praise and pray,
And crossing the green church-yard thoughtfully,
I saw how on the graves the flowers    
Shed their fresh leaves in showers;
And how their perfume rose up to the sky
Before it passed away.

The youngest blossoms die.
They die, and fall, and nourish the rich earth
From which they lately had their birth.
Sweet life: but sweeter death that passeth by,
And is as tho' it had not been.
All colors turn to green:
The bright hues vanish, and the odours fly;
The grass hath lasting worth.

And youth and beauty die.
So be it, O my God, thou God of truth.
Better than beauty and than youth
Are saints and angels, a glad company:
And Thou, O lord, our rest and Ease,
Are better far than these.
Why should we shrink from our full harvest ? 
Why Prefer to glean with Ruth*

Published in The Germ under the pseudonym "Ellen Alleyn"
* Ruth's piety and moral integrity were rewarded by God
with the gift of faith and an illustrious marriage
whereby she became the ancestress of David and Christ.



IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, Whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, Whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can give Him: give my heart.


Christina Rossetti wrote 'In the bleak midwinter'
in response to a request from the magazine Scribner’s
Monthly for a Christmas poem.



          TRUST ME

         Trust me, I have not earned your dear rebuke,
         I love, as you would have me, God the most.
         Would lose not him, but you, must one be lost,
         Nor with Lot's wife cast back a faithless look
         Unready to forego what I forsook.
         This say I, having counted up the cost;
         This, though 't be the feeblest of God's host,
         The sorriest sheep Christ shepherds with his crook,
         Yet, while I love my God the most, I deem
         That I can never love you over much:
         I love him more, so let me love you too;
         Yea, as I apprehend it, love is such
         I cannot love you if I love not him,
         I cannot love him if I love not you.

From Monna Innominata, which is to be found
in the 'Second Series'



         The Three Enemies

THE FLESH

             "Sweet, thou art pale." 
                   "More pale to see, 
             Christ hung upon the cruel tree 
             And bore His Father's wrath for me." 


             "Sweet, thou art sad." 
                   "Beneath a rod 
             More heavy, Christ for my sake trod 
             The winepress of the wrath of God." 


             "Sweet, thou art weary." 
                  "Not so Christ: 
            Whose mighty love of me suffic'd 
            For Strength, Salvation, Eucharist." 


            "Sweet, thou art footsore." 
                  "If I bleed, 
            His feet have bled; yea in my need 
            His Heart once bled for mine indeed." 

THE WORLD

            "Sweet, thou art young." 
                  "So He was young 
            Who for my sake in silence hung 
            Upon the Cross with Passion wrung." 


            "Look, thou art fair." 
                  "He was more fair 
            Than men, Who deign'd for me to wear 
            A visage marr'd beyond compare." 


            "And thou hast riches." 
                  "Daily bread: 
            All else is His: Who, living, dead, 
            For me lack'd where to lay His Head." 


            "And life is sweet." 
                  "It was not so 
            To Him, Whose Cup did overflow 
            With mine unutterable woe." 

THE DEVIL

            "Thou drinkest deep." 
                  "When Christ would sup 
            He drain'd the dregs from out my cup: 
            So how should I be lifted up?" 


            "Thou shalt win Glory." 
                  "In the skies, 
            Lord Jesus, cover up mine eyes 
            Lest they should look on vanities." 


            "Thou shalt have Knowledge." 
                  "Helpless dust! 
            In Thee, O Lord, I put my trust: 
            Answer Thou for me, Wise and Just." 


            "And Might."-- 
                  "Get thee behind me. Lord, 
            Who hast redeem'd and not abhorr'd 
            My soul, oh keep it by Thy Word." 

June 1851 - first published in the 1862 collection


The Heart Knoweth Its Own Bitterness

When all the over-work of life
Is finished once, and fast asleep
We swerve no more beneath the knife
But taste that silence cool and deep;
Forgetful of the highways rough,
Forgetful of the thorny scourge,
Forgetful of the tossing surge,
Then shall we find it is enough?

How can we say "enough" on earth--
"Enough" with such a craving heart?
I have not found it since my birth,
But still have bartered part for part.
I have not held and hugged the whole,
But paid the old to gain the new:
Much have I paid, yet much is due,
Till I am beggared sense and soul.

I used to labour, used to strive
For pleasure with a restless will:
Now if I save my soul alive
All else what matters, good or ill?
I used to dream alone, to plan
Unspoken hopes and days to come:--
Of all my past this is the sum--
I will not lean on child of man.

To give, to give, not to receive!
I long to pour myself, my soul,
Not to keep back or count or leave,
But king with king to give the whole.
I long for one to stir my deep--
I have had enough of help and gift--
I long for one to search and sift
Myself, to take myself and keep.

You scratch my surface with your pin,
You stroke me smooth with hushing breath:--
Nay pierce, nay probe, nay dig within,
Probe my quick core and sound my depth.
You call me with a puny call,
You talk, you smile, you nothing do:
How should I spend my heart on you,
My heart that so outweighs you all?

Your vessels are by much too strait:
Were I to pour, you could not hold.--
Bear with me: I must bear to wait,
A fountain sealed through heat and cold.
Bear with me days or months or years:
Deep must call deep until the end
When friend shall no more envy friend
Nor vex his friend at unawares.

Not in this world of hope deferred,
This world of perishable stuff:--
Eye hath not seen nor ear hath heard
Nor heart conceived that full "enough":
Here moans the separating sea,
Here harvests fail, here breaks the heart:
There God shall join and no man part,
I full of Christ and Christ of me.


27 August 1857


DE PROFUNDIS

Oh why is heaven built so far,
     Oh why is earth set so remote?
I cannot reach the nearest star
     That hangs afloat.

I would not care to reach the moon,
     One round monotonous of change;
Yet even she repeats her tune
     Beyond my range.

I never watch the scatter'd fire
     Of stars, or sun's far-trailing train,
But all my heart is one desire,
     And all in vain:

For I am bound with fleshly bands,
     Joy, beauty, lie beyond my scope;
I strain my heart, I stretch my hands,
     And catch at hope.


De Profundis means "Out of the depths"
(first verse of Psalm 130)


A BETTER RESURRECTION

I have no wit, no words, no tears; 
My heart within me like a stone 
Is numb'd too much for hopes or fears; 
Look right, look left, I dwell alone; 
I lift mine eyes, but dimm'd with grief 
No everlasting hills I see; 
My life is in the falling leaf: 
O Jesus, quicken me. 

My life is like a faded leaf, 
My harvest dwindled to a husk: 
Truly my life is void and brief 
And tedious in the barren dusk; 
My life is like a frozen thing, 
No bud nor greenness can I see: 
Yet rise it shall--the sap of Spring; 
O Jesus, rise in me. 

My life is like a broken bowl, 
A broken bowl that cannot hold 
One drop of water for my soul 
Or cordial in the searching cold; 
Cast in the fire the perish'd thing; 
Melt and remould it, till it be 
A royal cup for Him, my King: 
O Jesus, drink of me.

From 'Goblin Market and Other Poems' (1862)


THE CONVENT TRESHOLD

There's blood between us, love, my love,
There's father's blood, there's brother's blood;
And blood's a bar I cannot pass:
I choose the stairs that mount above,
Stair after golden skyward stair,
To city and to sea of glass.
My lily feet are soiled with mud,
With scarlet mud which tells a tale
Of hope that was, of guilt that was,
Of love that shall not yet avail;
Alas, my heart, if I could bare
My heart, this selfsame stain is there:
I seek the sea of glass and fire
To wash the spot, to burn the snare;
Lo, stairs are meant to lift us higher:
Mount with me, mount the kindled stair.

Your eyes look earthward, mine look up.
I see the far-off city grand,
Beyond the hills a watered land,
Beyond the gulf a gleaming strand
Of mansions where the righteous sup;
Who sleep at ease among their trees,
Or wake to sing a cadenced hymn
With Cherubim and Seraphim;
They bore the Cross, they drained the cup,
Racked, roasted, crushed, wrenched limb from limb,
They the offscouring of the world:
The heaven of starry heavens unfurled,
The sun before their face is dim.

You looking earthward, what see you?
Milk-white, wine-flushed among the vines,
Up and down leaping, to and fro,
Most glad, most full, made strong with wines,
Blooming as peaches pearled with dew,
Their golden windy hair afloat,
Love-music warbling in their throat,
Young men and women come and go.

You linger, yet the time is short:
Flee for your life, gird up your strength
To flee; the shadows stretched at length
Show that day wanes, that night draws nigh;
Flee to the mountain, tarry not.
Is this a time for smile and sigh,
For songs among the secret trees
Where sudden blue birds nest and sport?
The time is short and yet you stay:
Today while it is called today
Kneel, wrestle, knock, do violence, pray;
Today is short, tomorrow nigh:
Why will you die? why will you die?

You sinned with me a pleasant sin:
Repent with me, for I repent.
Woe's me the lore I must unlearn!
Woe's me that easy way we went,
So rugged when I would return!
How long until my sleep begin,
How long shall stretch these nights and days?
Surely, clean Angels cry, she prays;
She laves her soul with tedious tears:
How long must stretch these years and years?

I turn from you my cheeks and eyes,
My hair which you shall see no more-
Alas for joy that went before,
For joy that dies, for love that dies.
Only my lips still turn to you,
My livid lips that cry, Repent.
Oh weary life, Oh weary Lent,
Oh weary time whose stars are few.

How should I rest in Paradise,
Or sit on steps of heaven alone?
If Saints and Angels spoke of love
Should I not answer from my throne:
Have pity upon me, ye my friends,
For I have heard the sound thereof:
Should I not turn with yearning eyes,
Turn earthwards with a pitiful pang?
Oh save me from a pang in heaven.
By all the gifts we took and gave,
Repent, repent, and be forgiven:
This life is long, but yet it ends;
Repent and purge your soul and save:
No gladder song the morning stars
Upon their birthday morning sang
Than Angels sing when one repents.

I tell you what I dreamed last night;
A spirit with transfigured face
Fire-footed clomb an infinite space.
I heard his hundred pinions clang,
Heaven-bells rejoicing rang and rang,
Heaven-air was thrilled with subtle scents,
Worlds spun upon their rushing cars:
He mounted shrieking: "Give me light."
Still light was poured on him, more light;
Angels, Archangels he outstripped
Exultant in exceeding might,
And trod the skirts of Cherubim.
Still "Give me light," he shrieked; and dipped
His thirsty face, and drank a sea,
Athirst with thirst it could not slake.

I saw him, drunk with knowledge, take
From aching brows the aureole crown-
His locks writhed like a cloven snake-
He left his throne to grovel down
And lick the dust of Seraphs' feet:
For what is knowledge duly weighed?
Knowledge is strong, but love is sweet;
Yea all the progress he had made
Was but to learn that all is small
Save love, for love is all in all.

I tell you what I dreamed last night:
It was not dark, it was not light,
Cold dews had drenched my plenteous hair
Thro' clay; you came to seek me there.
And "Do you dream of me?" you said.
My heart was dust that used to leap
To you; I answered half asleep:
"My pillow is damp, my sheets are red,
There's a leaden tester to my bed:
Find you a warmer playfellow,
A warmer pillow for your head,
A kinder love to love than mine."
You wrung your hands; while I like lead
Crushed downwards thro' the sodden earth:
You smote your hands but not in mirth,
And reeled but were not drunk with wine.

For all night long I dreamed of you:
I woke and prayed against my will,
Then slept to dream of you again.
At length I rose and knelt and prayed:
I cannot write the words I said,
My words were slow, my tears were few;
But thro' tlie dark my silence spoke
Like thunder. When this morning broke,
My face was pinched, my hair was grey,
And frozen blood was on the sill
Where stifling in my struggle I lay.

If now you saw me you would say:
Where is the face I used to love?
And I would answer: Gone before;
It tarries veiled in paradise.
When once the morning star shall rise,
When earth with shadow flees away
And we stand safe within the door,
Then you shall lift the veil thereof.
Look up, rise up: for far above
Our palms are grown, our place is set;
There we shall meet as once we met
And love with old familiar love.

From 'Goblin Market and Other Poems' (1862)


CONSIDER THE LILIES OF THE FIELD

FLOWERS preach to us if we will hear:-- 
The rose saith in the dewy morn: 
I am most fair; 
Yet all my loveliness is born 
Upon a thorn. 
The poppy saith amid the corn: 
Let but my scarlet head appear 
And I am held in scorn; 
Yet juice of subtle virtue lies 
Within my cup of curious dyes. 
The lilies say: Behold how we 
Preach without words of purity. 
The violets whisper from the shade 
Which their own leaves have made: 
Men scent our fragrance on the air, 
Yet take no heed 
Of humble lessons we would read. 
But not alone the fairest flowers: 
The merest grass 
Along the roadside where we pass, 
Lichen and moss and sturdy weed, 
Tell of His love who sends the dew, 
The rain and sunshine too, 
To nourish one small seed.

From 'Goblin Market and Other Poems' (1862)


SYMBOLS

I watched a rosebud very long 
Brought on by dew and sun and shower, 
Waiting to see the perfect flower: 
Then, when I thought it should be strong, 
It opened at the matin hour 
And fell at evensong. 
  
I watched a nest from day to day, 
A green nest full of pleasant shade, 
Wherein three speckled eggs were laid: 
But when they should have hatched in May, 
The two old birds had grown afraid 
Or tired, and flew away. 
  
Then in my wrath I broke the bough 
That I had tended so with care, 
Hoping its scent should fill the air; 
I crushed the eggs, not heeding how 
Their ancient promise had been fair: 
I would have vengeance now. 
  
But the dead branch spoke from the sod, 
And the eggs answered me again: 
Because we failed dost thou complain? 
Is thy wrath just? And what if God, 
Who waiteth for thy fruits in vain, 
Should also take the rod? 

From Goblin Market, The Prince's Progress
and Other Poems
(1879)



THE ONE CERTAINTY

VANITY of vanities, the Preacher saith, 
All things are vanity. The eye and ear 
Cannot be filled with what they see and hear. 
Like early dew, or like the sudden breath 
Of wind, or like the grass that withereth, 
Is man, tossed to and fro by hope and fear: 
So little joy hath he, so little cheer, 
Till all things end in the long dust of death. 
To-day is still the same as yesterday, 
To-morrow also even as one of them; 
And there is nothing new under the sun: 
Until the ancient race of Time be run, 
The old thorns shall grow out of the old stem, 
And morning shall be cold and twilight grey.  

From Goblin Market, The Prince's Progress
and Other Poems
(1879)



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, The Prince's Progress
and Other Poems
(1879)



A PORTRAIT

She gave up beauty in her tender youth,
Gave all her hope and joy and pleasant ways;
She covered up her eyes lest they should gaze
On vanity, and chose the bitter truth.
Harsh towards herself, towards others full of ruth,
Servant of servants, little known to praise,
Long prayers and fasts trenched on her nights and days
She schooled herself to sights and sounds uncouth
That with the poor and stricken she might make
A home, until the least of all sufficed
Her wants; her own self learned she to forsake,
Counting all earthly gain but hurt and loss.
So with calm will she chose and bore the cross
And hated all for love of Jesus Christ.

          II

They knelt in silent anguish by her bed,
And could not weep; but calmly there she lay;
All pain had left her; and the sun's last ray
Shone through upon her, warming into red
The shady curtains. In her heart she said:
"Heaven opens; I leave these and go away;
The Bridegroom calls, - shall the Bride seek to stay?"
Then low upon her breast she bowed her head.
O lily flower, O gem of priceless worth,
O dove with patient voice and patient eyes,
O fruitful vine amid a land of dearth,
O maid replete with loving purities,
Thou bowedst down thy head with friends on earth
To raise it with the saints in Paradise.

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



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 woman's words are weak; 
   You should speak, not I. 

You took my heart in your hand 
   With a friendly smile, 
With a critical eye you scann'd, 
   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 question'd 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 contemn'd of a man, 
   This marr'd 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.

Day-Poems Poem Nr. 730


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)



PASSING AWAY SAITH THE WORLD

Passing away, saith the World, passing away:
Chances, beauty and youth, sapp'd day by day:
Thy life never continueth in one stay.
Is the eye waxen dim, is the dark hair changing to grey
That hath won neither laurel nor bay?
I shall clothe myself in Spring and bud in May:
Thou, root-stricken, shalt not rebuild thy decay
On my bosom for aye.
Then I answer'd: Yea.

Passing away, saith my Soul, passing away:
With its burden of fear and hope, of labour and play,
Hearken what the past doth witness and say:
Rust in thy gold, a moth is in thine array,
A canker is in thy bud, thy leaf must decay.
At midnight, at cockcrow, at morning, one certain day
Lo, the Bridegroom shall come and shall not delay:
Watch thou and pray.
Then I answer'd: Yea.

Passing away, saith my God, passing away:
Winter passeth after the long delay:
New grapes on the vine, new figs on the tender spray,
Turtle calleth turtle in Heaven's May.
Though I tarry, wait for Me, trust Me, watch and pray.
Arise, come away, night is past and lo it is day,
My love, My sister, My spouse, thou shalt hear Me say.
Then I answer'd: Yea.


From 'The collection of 1862'


St. BARNABAS

"Now when we had discovered Cyprus,
we left it on the left hand."

Acts XXI. 3
"We sailed under Cyprus,
because the winds were contrary."

Acts XXVII. 4

St. Barnabas, with John his sister's son,
Set sail for Cyprus; leaving in their wake
That chosen Vessel, who for Jesus' sake
Proclaimed the Gentiles and the Jews at one.
Divided while united, each must run
His mighty course not hell should overtake;
And pressing toward the mark must own the ache
Of love, and sigh for heaven not yet begun.
For saints in life-long exile yearn to touch
Warm human hands, and commune face to face;
But these we know not ever met again:
Yet once St. Paul at distance overmuch
Just sighted Cyprus; and once more in vain
Neared it and passed; - not there his landing-place.

From 'Verses' (1893)


BY WAY OF REMEMBRANCE

Remember, if I claim too much of you,
I claim it of my brother and my friend:
Have patience with me till the hidden end,
Bitter or sweet, in mercy shut from view.
Pay me my due; though I to pay your due
Am all too poor and past what will can mend:
Thus of your bounty you must give and lend
Still unrepaid by aught I look to do.
Still unrepaid by aught of mine on earth:
But overpaid, please God, when recompense
Beyond the mystic Jordan and new birth
Is dealt to virtue as to innocence;
When Angels singing praises in their mirth
Have borne you in their arms and fetched you hence.

From 'Other Poems'


URBS BEATA

I saw the gate called Beautiful
And looked but scarce could look within.
I saw the golden streets begin
And outskirts of the glassy pool;
On harps, on crowns of plenteous stars,
On green palm branches many-leaved
Eye hath not seen, nor ear hath heard,
Nor heart conceived.
I hope to see these things again,
But not as once in dreams by night,
To see them with my very sight
And touch and handle and attain
To have all Heaven beneath my feet
For narrow way that once they trod;
To have my part with all the saints
And with my God.


Urbs beata Jerusalem = Blessed city of Jerusalem


DESPISED AND REJECTED

My sun has set, I dwell
In darkness as a dead man out of sight;
And none remains, not one, that I should tell
To him mine evil plight
This bitter night.
I will make fast my door
That hollow friends may trouble me no more.
'Friend, open to Me.'—Who is this that calls?
Nay, I am deaf as are my walls:
Cease crying, for I will not hear
Thy cry of hope or fear.
Others were dear,
Others forsook me: what art thou indeed
That I should heed
Thy lamentable need?
Hungry should feed,
Or stranger lodge thee here?'Friend, My Feet bleed.
Open thy door to Me and comfort Me.'
I will not open, trouble me no more.
Go on thy way footsore,
I will not rise and open unto thee.
'Then is it nothing to thee? Open, see
Who stands to plead with thee.
Open, lest I should pass thee by, and thou
One day entreat My Face
And howl for grace,
And I be deaf as thou art now.
Open to Me.'Then I cried out upon him: Cease,
Leave me in peace:
Fear not that I should crave
Aught thou mayst have.
Leave me in peace, yea trouble me no more,
Lest I arise and chase thee from my door.
What, shall I not be let
Alone, that thou dost vex me yet?
But all night long that voice spake urgently:
'Open to Me.'
Still harping in mine ears:
'Rise, let Me in.'
Pleading with tears:
'Open to Me that I may come to thee.'
While the dew dropped, while the dark hours were cold:
'My Feet bleed, see My Face,
See My Hands bleed that bring thee grace,
My Heart doth bleed for thee,
Open to Me.'So till the break of day:
Then died away
That voice, in silence as of sorrow;
Then footsteps echoing like a sigh
Passed me by,
Lingering footsteps slow to pass.
On the morrow
I saw upon the grass
Each footprint marked in blood, and on my door
The mark of blood for evermore.

From 'Poems', Little Brown & Company (1906)




Christina Rossetti - A Religious Poem


Christina Rossetti - Other poems


Christina Rossetti - Goblin Market


Christina Rossetti - A Royal Princess


Dead Poetesses Society


Poëzieweb - Poetryweb (home)



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 - Later Life
(religious poem)


Christina Rossetti - Other poems


Christina Rossetti - Goblin Market


Christina Rossetti - A Royal Princess


Christina Rossetti - Flowers


Dante Rossetti - A Royal Princess


Christina Rossetti - In het Nederlands


Dead Poetesses Society


Dante Rossetti



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© Gaston D'Haese: 06-08-2003.
Update 24-01-2016.