I cannot tell you how it was;
But this I know: it came to pass
Upon a bright and breezy day
When May was young; ah, pleasant May!
As yet the poppies were not born
Between the blades of tender corn;
The last eggs had not hatched as yet,
Nor any bird forgone its mate.
I cannot tell you what it was;
But this I know: it did but pass.
It passed away with sunny May,
With all sweet things it passed away,
And left me old, and cold, and grey.
: Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
Christina Rossetti is one poet whose works I love without exception –I can’t say the same for Keats or Shelley or Browning. Her poetry is temperamental but still, beautifully poignant. The simplest, most unadorned phrases make so much meaning. Like Sylvia Plath said about her tulips, Rossetti’s words are like little hooks that catch onto mind and don’t let go.
I read “May” for the first time today and the variety of emotions she has managed to express through these two stanzas amazes me. There is love and loss… joy and sorrow.. fleeting nostalgia and bitter beauty… It has always amazed me that a human being can feel so much –such a myriad of emotions –to be able to put pen to paper and re-create them for others to share is truly art beyond measure.