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)
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