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DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI
I believe in a future life
, Have I not had evidence
believe in a future life. Have I not had evidence
? I seen those that died long years ago ? 1
[Mr. W. M. Rossetti writes :-“As to my brother's reported assertion, 'I believe in a future life,' this was partially true at all periods of his career, and was entirely true in his closing years. It depended partly upon what we call “Spiritualism,' on many of whose manifestations he relied, while ready to admit that some others have been mere juggling.
I cannot say with any accuracy what he supposed immortality to consist of. . .. I cannot recollect having myself ever heard my brother allege that he had seen a spiritual appearance, or what we term a ghost ” (Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1895).]
The lost days of my life until to-day,
What were they, could I see them on the street
Lie as they fell ? Would they be ears of wheat Sown once for food but trodden into clay ? Or golden coins squandered and still to pay ?
Or drops of blood dabbling the guilty feet ?
Or such spilt water as in dreams must cheat The undying throats of Hell, athirst alway?
1 Said in November 1881 (see Autobiography of W. B. Scott).
I do not see them here; but after death
God knows I know the faces I shall see,
“I am thyself,—what hast thou done to me?” “ And I—and I—thyself” (lo! each one saith),
“ And thou thyself to all eternity!"}
And thou, O Life, the lady of all bliss,
With whom, when our first heart beat full and fast,
I wandered till the haunts of men were pass'd,
While to the winds all thought of Death we cast :
Ah, Life! and must I have from thee at last No smile to greet me and no babe but this ? Lo! Love, the child once ours; and Song, whose hair
Blew like a flame and blossomed like a wreath; And Art, whose eyes were worlds by God found fair:
These o'er the book of Nature mixed their breath With neck-twined arms, as oft we watched them there;
And did these die that thou mightst bear me Death ? 2
CHRISTINA ROSSETTI (1830–1894)
IFE is not sweet. One day it will be sweet
and die :
With flitting butterfly, Nor grass grow long above our heads and feet, 1 From The House of Life, Sonnet lxxxvi. (“Lost Days”).
2 lbid. Sonnet c. (“Newborn Death ”).
Nor hear the happy lark that soars sky high,
Nor mark the waxing wheat,
Life is not good. One day it will be good
To die, then live again;
The wise do send their hearts before them to
Dear blessed Heaven, despite the veil between;
The foolish nurse their hearts within the screen
Yet elder far that world we have not seen ;
God's Presence antedates what else hath been :
That hankers after Heaven, but clings to earth;
1 “ Life and Death.”
3 “ Later Life,” Sonnet xxiv.
This Life is full of numbness and of balk,
Of haltingness and baffled short-coming,
Of promise unfulfilled, of everything
Its very song-bird trails a broken wing,
Its very Spring is not indeed like Spring,
Death's self it is, set off on pilgrimage,
The second stage is one mere desert dust
Where Death sits veiled amid creation's rust:Unveil thy face, O Death who art not Death.1
In life our absent friend is far
away: But death may bring our friend exceeding near,
Show him familiar faces long so dear
In any voice accustomed to our ear;
He only cannot make his face appear
Watching us with unslumbering eyes and heart Brimful of words which cannot yet be said,
Brimful of knowledge they may not impart, Brimful of love for you and love for me.?
When all the overwork of life
Is finished once, and fallen asleep 1 “Later Life,” Sonnet xxvi.
2 Ibid. Sonnet xxviii.
We shrink no more beneath the knife,
But having sown prepare to reap, Delivered from the crossway rough,
Delivered from the thorny scourge,
Delivered from the tossing surge, Then shall we find—(please God !)—it is enough?
Not in this world of hope deferred,
This world of perishable stuff;
Nor heart conceived that full “enough”:
Here harvests fail, here breaks the heart;
Here God shall join and no man part, All one in Christ, so one—(please God !)—with me.1
Is it worth while to live,
1 From “ Time Flies," August 17.