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Short poem

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Passing away, Saith the World

              1Passing away, saith the World, passing away:
              2Chances, beauty and youth, sapp'd day by day:
              3Thy life never continueth in one stay.
              4Is the eye waxen dim, is the dark hair changing to grey
              5That hath won neither laurel nor bay?
              6I shall clothe myself in Spring and bud in May:
              7Thou, root-stricken, shalt not rebuild thy decay
              8On my bosom for aye.
              9Then I answer'd: Yea.

            10Passing away, saith my Soul, passing away:
            11With its burden of fear and hope, of labour and play,
            12Hearken what the past doth witness and say:
            13Rust in thy gold, a moth is in thine array,
            14A canker is in thy bud, thy leaf must decay.
            15At midnight, at cockcrow, at morning, one certain day
            16Lo, the Bridegroom shall come and shall not delay:
            17Watch thou and pray.
            18Then I answer'd: Yea.

            19Passing away, saith my God, passing away:
            20Winter passeth after the long delay:
            21New grapes on the vine, new figs on the tender spray,
            22Turtle calleth turtle in Heaven's May.
            23Though I tarry, wait for Me, trust Me, watch and pray.
            24Arise, come away, night is past and lo it is day,
            25My love, My sister, My spouse, thou shalt hear Me say.
            26Then I answer'd: Yea.


1] First published in the collection of 1862, in which it was the last of a group of three poems entitled "Old and New Year Ditties."

22] turtle: turtle-dove. The imagery throughout this last stanza is taken from the Song of Solomon 2: 10-13.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Christina Rossetti, Goblin Market and other Poems (Cambridge: Macmillan, 1862). end R673 G63 1862 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto). Text from Christina Rossetti, Poems (1890).
First publication date: 1862
RPO poem editor: Margaret Frances (Sister St. Francis) Nims
RP edition: 3RP 3.318.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/14

Composition date: December 1860
Rhyme: aaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaa

Other poems by Christina Rossetti