September 14, 2005

A Sonnet of Sonnets


Christina Rosseti, one of my very favoritest of poets, wrote two sonnet sequences in her life. I have only read one of them, the Monno Innominata, but it is a truly marvelous work of poetry. It is comprised of 14 sonnets, each one outstanding, and together the effect is amazing. She wrote it almost as a counterpart to the Portugese Sonnets of her contemporary Elizabeth Browning, but about unhappy instead of happy love-- she suggest in the preface that they are about a love with an insurmountable barrier. This may well be biographical-- Christina was in love with a man whom she did not marry because of their religious differences.

I wish I could just post the whole sequence... in time, perhaps... but until then one or two will have to suffice.

I wish I could remember that first day,
First hour, first moment of your meeting me,
If bright or dim the season, it might be
Summer or winter for aught I can say;
So unrecorded did it slip away,
So blind was I to see and to foresee,
So dull to mark the budding of my tree
That would not blossom yet for many a May.
If only I could recollect it, such
A day of days! I let it come and go
As traceless as a thaw of bygone snow;
It seem'd to mean so little, meant so much;
If only now I could recall that touch,
First touch of hand in hand--
Did one but know!
Trust me, I have not earn'd your dear rebuke,
I love, as you would have me, God the most;
Would lose not Him, but you, must one be lost,
Nor with Lot's wife cast back a faithless look
Unready to forego what I forsook;
This say I, having counted up the cost,
This, though I be the feeblest of God's host,
The sorriest sheep Christ shepherds with His crook.
Yet while I love my God the most, I deem
That I can never love you overmuch;
I love Him more, so let me love you too;
Yea, as I apprehend it, love is such
I cannot love you if I love not Him,
I cannot love Him if I love not you.


Anonymous said...

Oh, Fa-So-La-La, I do believe I could like her as much as you do!

Anonymous said...

That's gorgeous! I'll have to look into more of her writings.