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Rossetti, Christina Carcanet Press Ltd. ePub

When all the over-work of life

     Is finished once, and fast asleep

We swerve no more beneath the knife

     But taste that silence cool and deep;

Forgetful of the highways rough,

     Forgetful of the thorny scourge,

     Forgetful of the tossing surge,

Then shall we find it is enough?

How can we say ‘enough’ on earth–

     ‘Enough’ with such a craving heart?

I have not found it since my birth,

     But still have bartered part for part.

I have not held and hugged the whole,

     But paid the old to gain the new:

     Much have I paid, yet much is due,

Till I am beggared sense and soul.

I used to labour, used to strive

     For pleasure with a restless will:

Now if I save my soul alive

     All else what matters, good or ill?

I used to dream alone, to plan

     Unspoken hopes and days to come:–

     Of all my past this is the sum–

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A Reproach

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

And wide away from stress and mood?

In prayer and art we sometimes come

To time that tells space it is good.

Is this the spirit’s home?

A Reproach

‘If I believed what you do I would stay

For hours each morning and return each night’

So someone said to me, yet my thoughts stray

At Mass. My eyes drift toward the evening light

Perturbing that plain window-glass and then

I try once more to focus on the sight

Of Bread raised up and manage one ‘Amen’.

Owning imagination, why can’t I

Think of Calvary and the cruel men,

The women with no words, the men who vie

For careful, seamless cloth. I do not know.

Each week I make new resolutions, try

To think of one who made the sunset glow,

Modelled a loved face, whispered and the sea

Began to turn. I ought to be brought low

When I see Bread and Wine and can believe

They are the God-Man whom I pray to when

I want a trifling bonus for my life.

‘If I believed what you do I would go

To Mass each day … ’ The words upbraid me still.

I who find metaphors in which to show

My poems yet strain to make an act of will

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Particular Music

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF
Medium 9781847770684

XL (ii) (‘I know not if it is imagination’)

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

XL (ii)

I know not if it is imagination

Which makes the light that every man can feel,

Or if from mind or memory will steal

Some other glorious illumination.

Or maybe in the soul the scorching fire

Of heaven still burns, and has the power to draw

Our thoughts into an ardent, fierce desire

For truth itself, the one compelling law.

Oh may I always search for what is true,

Although, without a guide, this fire I seek.

Yet still I feel that someone points the way.

Lady, this is my state since I saw you;

Both bitterness and sweetness now can sway

My heart. You are the reason I am weak.


He who from nothing made all things ordained

That time in two parts should be severed; one

He handed over to the mighty sun,

The other with the nearer moon remained.

From this event, fortune and fate sprang forth,

Mischance or happiness to each man fell.

To me was sent the dark time, I know well,

For it has always been with me since birth.

And like all things which make a counterfeit

Of their own nature, so I make my fate

More black by feeling full of pain and grief.

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The Way of Words and Language

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Defying distance. No one is about

Except a weary dog. I am alone

As I sit down and take my papers out,

Wait at a table, gladly on my own.

Buildings dissolve and all things call in doubt

The possibility of brick and stone.

The haze lifts slowly and the sun begins

To lower itself. The shutters are put up,

Voices start but scarcely can convince

That they can spring from flesh, but then the deep

Tones of bells draw everyone from sleep.

Such afternoons I’ve lived again long since.

And so the actual South exists for me

In a dozen ways but mostly it

Comes back in Northern Winters stealthily,

Bearing all the attributes of heat.

In empty streets in England still I see

In waking dreams how North and South can meet.

The Way of Words and Language

When you are lost

Even near home, when you feel

The tide turning, a strange sea under you

And you are a pale, rubbed pebble, a sea ghost,

When you have lost

All the high-ways and every dimming sign-post

And the sea is far away and the moon hidden

And your watch has stopped and you have no compass

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