Christina Georgina Rossetti

5 December 1803 - 29 December 1870 / London

Bride Song

From 'The Prince's Progress'

TOO late for love, too late for joy,
   Too late, too late!
You loiter'd on the road too long,
   You trifled at the gate:
The enchanted dove upon her branch
   Died without a mate;
The enchanted princess in her tower
   Slept, died, behind the grate;
Her heart was starving all this while
   You made it wait.

Ten years ago, five years ago,
   One year ago,
Even then you had arrived in time,
   Though somewhat slow;
Then you had known her living face
   Which now you cannot know:
The frozen fountain would have leap'd,
   The buds gone on to blow,
The warm south wind would have awaked
   To melt the snow.

Is she fair now as she lies?
   Once she was fair;
Meet queen for any kingly king,
   With gold-dust on her hair.
Now there are poppies in her locks,
   White poppies she must wear;
Must wear a veil to shroud her face
   And the want graven there:
Or is the hunger fed at length,
   Cast off the care?

We never saw her with a smile
   Or with a frown;
Her bed seem'd never soft to her,
   Though toss'd of down;
She little heeded what she wore,
   Kirtle, or wreath, or gown;
We think her white brows often ached
   Beneath her crown,
Till silvery hairs show'd in her locks
   That used to be so brown.

We never heard her speak in haste:
   Her tones were sweet,
And modulated just so much
   As it was meet:
Her heart sat silent through the noise
   And concourse of the street.
There was no hurry in her hands,
   No hurry in her feet;
There was no bliss drew nigh to her,
   That she might run to greet.

You should have wept her yesterday,
   Wasting upon her bed:
But wherefore should you weep to-day
   That she is dead?
Lo, we who love weep not to-day,
   But crown her royal head.
Let be these poppies that we strew,
   Your roses are too red:
Let be these poppies, not for you
   Cut down and spread.
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