Christina Rossetti: Poems

I Know You Not

(Lyra Messianica, 1864.)

O Christ, the Vine with living Fruit,

The twelvefold-fruited Tree of Life,

The Balm in Gilead after strife,

The valley Lily and the Rose;

Stronger than Lebanon, Thou Root;

Sweeter than clustered grapes, Thou Vine;

O Best, Thou Vineyard of red wine,

Keeping thy best wine till the close.

Pearl of great price Thyself alone,

And ruddier than the ruby Thou; 10

Most precious lightning Jasper stone,

Head of the corner spurned before:

Fair Gate of pearl, Thyself the Door;

Clear golden Street, Thyself the Way;

By Thee we journey toward Thee now,

Through Thee shall enter Heaven one day.

I thirst for Thee, full fount and flood;

My heart calls Thine, as deep to deep:

Dost Thou forget Thy sweat and pain,

They provocation on the Cross? 20

Heart-pierced for me, vouchsafe to keep

The purchase of Thy lavished Blood:

The gain is Thine, Lord, if I gain;

Or if I lose, Thine own the loss.

At midnight (saith the Parable)

A cry was made, the Bridegroom came;

Those who were ready entered in:

The rest, shut out in death and shame,

Strove all too late that Feast to win,

Their die was cast, and fixed their lot; 30

A gulf divided Heaven from Hell;

The Bridegroom said--I know you not.

But Who is this that shuts the door,

And saith--I know you not--to them?

I see the wounded hands and side,

The brow thorn-tortured long ago:

Yea; This Who grieved and bled and died,

This same is He Who must condemn;

He called, but they refused to know;

So now He hears their cry no more. 40