Christina RossettiChristina Rossetti.
A Word for the Dumb
Pity the sorrows of a poor old Dog
Who wags his tail a-begging in his need:
Despise not even the sorrows of a Frog,
God's creature too, and that's enough to plead:
Spare Puss who trusts us purring on our hearth:
Spare Bunny once so frisky and so free:
Spare all the harmless tenants of the earth:
Spare, and be spared:—or who shall plead for thee?
It is a land with neither night nor day,
Nor heat nor cold, nor any wind, nor rain,
Nor hills nor valleys; but one even plain
Stretches thro' long unbroken miles away:
While thro' the sluggish air a twilight grey
Broodeth; no moons or seasons wax and wane,
No ebb and flow are there along the main,
No bud-time no leaf-falling there for aye,
No ripple on the sea, no shifting sand,
No beat of wings to stir the stagnant space,
No pulse of life thro' all the loveless land:
And loveless sea; no trace of days before,
No guarded home, no toil-won resting place
No future hope no fear for evermore.
Strange voices sing among the planets which
Move on for ever; in the old sea's foam
There is a prophecy; in Heaven's blue dome
Great beacon fires are lighted; black as pitch
Is night, and yet star jewels make it rich;
And if the moon lights up her cloudy home
The darkness flees, and forth strange gleamings roam
Lighting up hill and vale and mound and ditch,
Earth is full of all questions that all ask;
And she alone of heavy silence full
Answereth not: what is it severeth
Us from the spirits that we would be with?
Or is it that our fleshly ear is dull,
And our own shadow hides light with a mask?
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.
When I Am Dead, My Dearest
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.
O Lady Moon
O Lady Moon, your horns point toward the east:
Shine, be increased;
O Lady Moon, your horns point toward the west:
Wane, be at rest.
The Thread of Life1
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 seemed not so far to seek
And all the world and I seemed much less cold,
And at the rainbow's foot lay surely gold,
And hope felt strong and life itself not weak.
Thus am I mine own prison. Everything
Around me free and sunny and at ease:
Or if in shadow, in a shade of trees
Which the sun kisses, where the gay birds sing
And where all winds make various murmuring;
Where bees are found, with honey for the bees;
Where sounds are music, and where silences
Are music of an unlike fashioning.
Then gaze I at the merrymaking crew,
And smile a moment and a moment sigh
Thinking: Why can I not rejoice with you ?
But soon I put the foolish fancy by:
I am not what I have nor what I do;
But what I was I am, I am even I.
Therefore myself is that one only thing
I hold to use or waste, to keep or give;
My sole possession every day I live,
And still mine own despite Time's winnowing.
Ever mine own, while moons and seasons bring
From crudeness ripeness mellow and sanative;
Ever mine own, till Death shall ply his sieve;
And still mine own, when saints break grave and sing.
And this myself as king unto my King
I give, to Him Who gave Himself for me;
Who gives Himself to me, and bids me sing
A sweet new song of His redeemed set free;
He bids me sing: O death, where is thy sting?
And sing: O Grave, where is thy victory?
On the Death of a Cat
Who shall tell the lady's grief
When her Cat was past relief?
Who shall number the hot tears
Shed o'er her, belov'd for years?
Who shall say the dark dismay
Which her dying caused that day?
Come, ye Muses, one and all,
Come obedient to my call;
Come and mourn with tuneful breath
Each one for a separate death;
And, while you in numbers sigh,
I will sing her elegy.
Of a noble race she came,
And Grimalkin was her name
Young and old fully many a mouse
Felt the prowess of her house;
Weak and strong fully many a rat
Cowered beneath her crushing pat;
And the birds around the place
shrank from her too close embrace.
But one night, reft of her strength,
She lay down and died at length;
Lay a kitten by her side
In whose life the mother died.
Spare her line and lineage,
Guard her kitten's tender age,
And that kitten's name as wide
Shall be known as hers that died.
And whoever passes by
The poor grave where Puss doth lie,
Softly, softly let him tread,
nor disturb her narrow bed.