Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Poem for the Day: Up-Hill by Christina Rossetti

"Remember me when I am gone away, Gone far away into the silent land; When you can no more hold me by the hand, Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay..." - Christina Rosetti

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yes, beds for all who come.

On this day in 1827, Christina's older sister, Maria Francesca Rossetti, was born.  The most responsible and practical of the siblings, Maria, a Dante scholar, only felt herself free of family responsibilities at the age of 46.  She entered an Anglican sisterhood, but her health soon failed and she dies several years later in 1876.
Christina Rossetti was born in London, her father Italian and her mother half-Italian.  The house was a magnet for literary refugees and she was educated at home, and lived there all her life, retiring from work as a governess as a result of ill-health.  "Differing from her Bohemian brother, Dante Gabriel, and more like her older sister, she found the world evil.  She repudiated pleasure:  'I cannot possibly use the word "happy" without meaning something beyond this present life' " (Louis Untermeyer).