The World

By day she woos me, soft, exceeding fair :
        But all night as the moon so changeth she ;
        Loathsome and foul with hideous leprosy,
And subtle serpents gliding in her hair.

By day she woos me to the outer air,
        Ripe fruits, sweet flowers, and full satiety :
        But thro’ the night a beast she grins at me,
A very monster void of love and prayer.

By day she stands a lie : by night she stands
        In the naked horror of the truth,
With pushing horns and clawed and clutching hands.

Is this a friend indeed, that I should sell
        My soul to her, give her my life and youth,
Till my feet, cloven too, take hold on hell?

Christina Georgina Rossetti, 27 June 1854

5 Replies to “The World”

  1. Thank you; I now know [I told you I was ignorant] she wrote more than “In the Bleak Midwinter” [a song I like for its meaning; once you get past “snow…snow…snow”]. A Google was most informative.

  2. It was that last line that forced me to post this particular poem. What imagery!

    Very funny, Steve! I can assure you, however, that you have excellent taste!

    Ian, yes, she’s written plenty. One of these days, I’ll get back to posting her The Face of the Deep (use my search box on the right to look for those posts), the first full commentary on the Revelation to St John ever written by a woman. It’s a devotional commentary full of her poetry. It’s really quite extraordinary.

    I’d also recommend a copy of her complete poetical works, like the Penguin edition. I actually bought a beautiful old collectible gilt leather copy of The Poetical Works of Christina Georgina Rossetti, the edition edited by her brother William, with a memoir of her as an introduction. Her poetry is worthy of the expense.

  3. Thank you Kevin. Added to my next-to-buy list, and I look forward to spending part of the weekend looking through your posts on “The Face of the Deep”. Thanks again.

    1. You’re very welcome, Ian!

      I plan to actually sit down and scan the whole thing one day soon, perhaps before the summer is out. Those posts were all typed, which just takes too long, really. It’s a great book. There are numerous short poems included in it, and these are all included in the collections, but not in their context, of course. They take on extra meaning as they are integral to her commentary. It’s a fascinating and beautiful commentary, that way, much better than any devotional commentaries I’ve ever seen. And for it to be of such a literary quality (and on the Apocalypse, no less!) is a real treat!

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