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- 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 sky-ward 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:
- To-day, while it is called to-day,
- Kneel, wrestle, knock, do violence, pray;
- To-day is short, to-morrow night:
- 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 the 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!
- O weary life, O weary Lent,
- O 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 ansnwer 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 writhe 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
- Through 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 through 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 through the 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.
- 9 July 1858
- Christina Rossetti
Poets' Corner .
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