What will the new year bring – good things or bad? And are we glad to say goodbye to the year we’re leaving behind? This is what Christina Rossetti (1830-94) wonders in this little-known New Year poem, which also contains a touching religious sentiment: ‘Watch with me Jesus, in my loneliness: / Though others say me nay, yet say Thou yes; / Though others pass me by, stop Thou to bless.’
Old and New Year Ditties
New Year met me somewhat sad:
Old Year leaves me tired,
Stripped of favourite things I had
Baulked of much desired:
Yet farther on my road to-day
God willing, farther on my way. Read the rest of this entry
This poem, ‘A Dirge’, is not one of Christina Rossetti’s absolute classics, but a phrase from it has had a new lease of life in the last few years: J. K. Rowling borrowed ‘the cuckoo’s calling’ from the poem and used it as the title for one of her novels. As its title suggests, ‘A Dirge’ is a poem of mourning about a loved one who has died.
Why were you born when the snow was falling?
You should have come to the cuckoo’s calling,
Or when grapes are green in the cluster,
Or, at least, when lithe swallows muster
For their far off flying
From summer dying. Read the rest of this entry
‘The Lambs of Grasmere’, its title referring to the Lake District, that area of England forever associated with Wordsworth and Romantic poetry, focuses on what Christina Rossetti (1830-94) calls the ‘pastureless wet pasture ground’ and the lambs which are saved from starvation by the shepherds, who come each day with bottles of milk to feed them.
The Lambs of Grasmere
The upland flocks grew starved and thinned;
Their shepherds scarce could feed the lambs
Whose milkless mothers butted them,
Or who were orphaned of their dams.
The lambs athirst for mother’s milk
Filled all the place with piteous sounds: Read the rest of this entry