Friday, January 22, 2010

Christina Rossetti

Oh, what's that in the hollow...?
by Edward Robert Hughes, circa 1895

Poems by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) today.

Amor Mundi reminds me of E.A. Poe, because it sends a shiver down my spine. Rossetti knows creepy.

Amor Mundi
By Christina Rossetti

“Oh where are you going with your love-locks flowing
  On the west wind blowing along this valley track?”
“The downhill path is easy, come with me an it please ye,
  We shall escape the uphill by never turning back.”

So they two went together in glowing August weather,
  The honey-breathing heather lay to their left and right;
And dear she was to dote on, her swift feet seemed to float on
  The air like soft twin pigeons too sportive to alight.

“Oh what is that in heaven where gray cloud-flakes are seven,
  Where blackest clouds hang riven just at the rainy skirt?”
“Oh that’s a meteor sent us, a message dumb, portentous,
  An undeciphered solemn signal of help or hurt.”

"Oh what is that glides quickly where velvet flowers grow thickly,
  Their scent comes rich and sickly?”­“A scaled and hooded worm.”
“Oh what’s that in the hollow, so pale I quake to follow?”
  “Oh that’s a thin dead body which waits the eternal term.”

“Turn again, O my sweetest,­turn again, false and fleetest:
  This beaten way thou beatest I fear is hell’s own track.”
“Nay, too steep for hill-mounting; nay, too late for cost-counting:
  This downhill path is easy, but there’s no turning back.”


I thought about Robert Frost when I read these poems, thinking that Frost liked taking the harder path (the one less traveled) and that Rossetti liked the harder one as well (the one up-hill). But then I reread The Road Not Taken and noticed that the road less traveled wasn't harder. We tend to think of it that way because that makes it meaningful for us. Huh.

by Christina Rossetti

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 'ust in sight?
  They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
  Of labor you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
  Yea, beds for all who come.

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