Christina Rossetti: Poems

'They Desire A Better Country'

(Macmillan's Magazine, March 1869.)


I would not if I could undo my past,

Tho' for its sake my future is a blank;

My past, for which I have myself to thank,

For all its faults and follies first and last.

I would not cast anew the lot once cast,

Or launch a second ship for one that sank,

Or drug with sweets the bitterness I drank,

Or break by feasting my perpetual fast.

I would not if I could: for much more dear

Is one remembrance than a hundred joys, 10

More than a thousand hopes in jubilee;

Dearer the music of one tearful voice

That unforgotten calls and calls to me,

'Follow me here, rise up, and follow here.'


What seekest thou far in the unknown land?

In hope I follow joy gone on before,

In hope and fear persistent more and more,

As the dry desert lengthens out its sand.

Whilst day and night I carry in my hand

The golden key to ope the golden door 20

Of golden home; yet mine eye weepeth sore

For the long journey that must make no stand.

And who is this that veiled doth walk with thee?

Lo, this is Love that walketh at my right;

One exile holds us both, and we are bound

To selfsame home-joys in the land of light.

Weeping thou walkest with him; weepeth he?--

Some sobbing weep, some weep and make no sound.


A dimness of a glory glimmers here

Thro' veils and distance from the space remote, 30

A faintest far vibration of a note

Reaches to us and seems to bring us near,

Causing our face to glow with braver cheer,

Making the serried mist to stand afloat,

Subduing langour with an antidote,

And strengthening love almost to cast out fear,

Till for one moment golden city walls

Rise looming on us, golden walls of home,

Light of our eyes until the darkness falls;

Then thro' the outer darkness burdensome 40

I hear again the tender voice that calls,

'Follow me hither, follow, rise, and come.'