"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

13 July 2006

"The World"

I've been reading Christina Rossetti's poetry while prepping for Victorian Lit this fall, and while I've always loved her work, I am simply stunned by reading so much more of it than I've ever encountered. I read for hours one afternoon, mesmerized by the depth and poetic quality. She has many narrative poems, all equal in quality to "Goblin Market," and her devotional poetry is nothing less than magnificent.

This poem, called "The World," reminded me of imagery from Phantastes:

By day she wooes me, soft, exceeding fair:
But all night as the moon so changeth she;
Loathesome and foul with hideous leprosy
And subtle serpents gliding in her hair.
By day she wooes me to the outer air,
Ripe fruits, sweet flowers, and full satiety:
But thro' 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?


amelia ruth said...

Wow. I don't think I've ever read her poetry (or wanted to), but after reading that I might just have to pick up a copy of my own. How true! Thanks for sharing.

Fieldfleur said...

I love that ... how figurative/literal darkness transforms. I just read her "A Christmas Carol" cited in a book I'm reading on mysticism (devotion to Christ). Good stuff. Thanks for the look!