Christina Rossetti: Poems


'While I sit at the door

Sick to gaze within

Mine eye weepeth sore

For sorrow and sin:

As a tree my sin stands

To darken all lands;

Death is the fruit it bore.

'How have Eden bowers grown

Without Adam to bend them!

How have Eden flowers blown 10

Squandering their sweet breath

Without me to tend them!

The Tree of Life was ours,

Tree twelvefold-fruited,

Most lofty tree that flowers,

Most deeply rooted:

I chose the tree of death.

'Hadst thou but said me nay,

Adam, my brother,

I might have pined away; 20

I, but none other:

God might have let thee stay

Safe in our garden,

By putting me away

Beyond all pardon.

'I, Eve, sad mother

Of all who must live,

I, not another

Plucked bitterest fruit to give

My friend, husband, lover-- 30

O wanton eyes, run over;

Who but I should grieve?--

Cain hath slain his brother:

Of all who must die mother,

Miserable Eve!'

Thus she sat weeping,

Thus Eve our mother,

Where one lay sleeping

Slain by his brother.

Greatest and least 40

Each piteous beast

To hear her voice

Forgot his joys

And set aside his feast.

The mouse paused in his walk

And dropped his wheaten stalk;

Grave cattle wagged their heads

In rumination;

The eagle gave a cry

From his cloud station; 50

Larks on thyme beds

Forbore to mount or sing;

Bees drooped upon the wing;

The raven perched on high

Forgot his ration;

The conies in their rock,

A feeble nation,

Quaked sympathetical;

The mocking-bird left off to mock;

Huge camels knelt as if 60

In deprecation;

The kind hart's tears were falling;

Chattered the wistful stork;

Dove-voices with a dying fall

Cooed desolation

Answering grief by grief.

Only the serpent in the dust

Wriggling and crawling,

Grinned an evil grin and thrust

His tongue out with its fork. 70