By Christina Rossetti
“Oh where are you going with your love-locks flowing
On the west wind blowing along this valley track?”
“The downhill path is easy, come with me an it please ye,
We shall escape the uphill by never turning back.”
So they two went together in glowing August weather,
The honey-breathing heather lay to their left and right;
And dear she was to dote on, her swift feet seemed to float on
The air like soft twin pigeons too sportive to alight.
“Oh what is that in heaven where gray cloud-flakes are seven,
Where blackest clouds hang riven just at the rainy skirt?”
“Oh that’s a meteor sent us, a message dumb, portentous,
An undeciphered solemn signal of help or hurt.”
“Oh what is that glides quickly where velvet flowers grow thickly,
Their scent comes rich and sickly?”—“A scaled and hooded worm.”
“Oh what’s that in the hollow, so pale I quake to follow?”
“Oh that’s a thin dead body which waits the eternal term.”
“Turn again, O my sweetest,—turn again, false and fleetest:
This beaten way thou beatest I fear is hell’s own track.”
“Nay, too steep for hill-mounting; nay, too late for cost-counting:
This downhill path is easy, but there’s no turning back.”
Source: The Norton Anthology of Poetry Third Edition (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 1983)
More By This Poet
My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all...
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...
More Poems about Living
A spring snow coincides with plum blossoms.
In a month, you will forget, then remember
when nine ravens perched in the elm sway in wind.
I will remember when I brake to a stop,
and a hubcap rolls through the intersection.
An angry man grinds...
At the Equinox
The tide ebbs and reveals orange and purple sea stars.
I have no theory of radiance,
but after rain evaporates
off pine needles, the needles glisten.
In the courtyard, we spot the rising shell of a moon,
More Poems about Love
i love you to the moon &
not back, let’s not come back, let’s go by the speed of
queer zest & stay up
there & get ourselves a little
moon cottage (so pretty), then start a moon garden
with lots of moon veggies (so healthy), i mean
i was already moonlighting
Self-Portrait with Sylvia Plath’s Braid
Some women make a pilgrimage to visit it
in the Indiana library charged to keep it safe.
I didn’t drive to it; I dreamed it, the thick braid
roped over my hands, heavier than lead.
My own hair was long for years.
Then I became...
More Poems about Mythology & Folklore
Fairy Tale with Laryngitis and Resignation Letter
You remember the mermaid makes a deal,
her tongue evicted from her throat,
and moving is a knife-cut with every step.
This is what escape from water means.
Dear Colleagues, you write, for weeks
I’ve been typing this letter in the bright
kingdom of my imagination....
How to Break a Curse
Lemon balm is for forgiveness.
Pull up from the root, steep
in boiling water. Add locusts’ wings,
salt, the dried bones of hummingbirds.
Drink when you feel ready.
Drink even if you do not.
Pepper seeds are for courage.
Sprinkle them on your tongue.
Sprinkle in the doorway...