|A New Year’s EveBy Algernon Charles Swinburne
Christina Rossetti, portrait by her brother (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Christina Rossetti died December 29, 1894
The stars are strong in the deeps of the lustrous night,
Cold and splendid as death if his dawn be bright;
Cold as the cast-off garb that is cold as clay,
Splendid and strong as a spirit intense as light.
A soul more sweet than the morning of new-born May
Has passed with the year that has passed from the world away.
A song more sweet than the morning’s first-born song
Again will hymn not among us a new year’s day.
Not here, not here shall the carol of joy grown strong
Ring rapture now, and uplift us, a spell-struck throng,
From dream to vision of life that the soul may see
By death’s grace only, if death do its trust no wrong.
Scarce yet the days and the starry nights are three
Since here among us a spirit abode as we,
Girt round with life that is fettered in bonds of time,
And clasped with darkness about as is earth with sea.
And now, more high than the vision of souls may climb,
The soul whose song was as music of stars that chime,
Clothed round with life as of dawn and the mounting sun,
Sings, and we know not here of the song sublime.
No word is ours of it now that the songs are done
Whence here we drank of delight as in freedom won,
In deep deliverance given from the bonds we bore.
There is none to sing as she sang upon earth, not one.
We heard awhile: and for us who shall hear no more
The sound as of waves of light on a starry shore
Awhile bade brighten and yearn as a father’s face
The face of death, divine as in days of yore.
The grey gloom quickened and quivered: the sunless place
Thrilled, and the silence deeper than time or space
Seemed now not all everlasting. Hope grew strong,
And love took comfort, given of the sweet song’s grace.
Love that finds not on earth, where it finds but wrong,
Love that bears not the bondage of years in throng
Shone to show for her, higher than the years that mar,
The life she looked and longed for as love must long.
Who knows? We know not. Afar, if the dead be far,
Alive, if the dead be alive as the soul’s works are,
The soul whose breath was among us a heavenward song
Sings, loves, and shines as it shines for us here a star.
From “A Channel Passage and Other Poems”