Christina Rossetti: Poems

Heart's Chill Between

(Athenaeum, October 21, 1848)

I did not chide him, though I knew

That he was false to me.

Chide the exhaling of the dew,

The ebbing of the sea,

The fading of a rosy hue,--

But not inconstancy.

Why strive for love when love is o'er?

Why bind a restive heart?--

He never knew the pain I bore

In saying: 'We must part; 10

Let us be friends and nothing more.'

--Oh, woman's shallow art!

But it is over, it is done,--

I hardly heed it now;

So many weary years have run

Since then, I think not how

Things might have been,--but greet each one

With an unruffled brow.

What time I am where others be,

My heart seems very calm-- 20

Stone calm; but if all go from me,

There comes a vague alarm,

A shrinking in the memory

From some forgotten harm.

And often through the long, long night,

Waking when none are near,

I feel my heart beat fast with fright,

Yet know not what I fear.

Oh how I long to see the light,

And the sweet birds to hear! 30

To have the sun upon my face,

To look up through the trees,

To walk forth in the open space

And listen to the breeze,--

And not to dream the burial-place

Is clogging my weak knees.

Sometimes I can nor weep nor pray,

But am half stupefied:

And then all those who see me say

Mine eyes are opened wide 40

And that my wits seem gone away--

Ah, would that I had died!

Would I could die and be at peace,

Or living could forget!

My grief nor grows nor doth decrease,

But ever is:--and yet

Methinks, now, that all this shall cease

Before the sun shall set.