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Short poem

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

The Prince's Progress


          479  "Too late for love, too late for joy,
          480    Too late, too late!
          481You loitered on the road too long,
          482    You trifled at the gate:
          483The enchanted dove upon her branch
          484    Died without a mate.
          485The enchanted princess in her tower
          486    Slept, died, behind the grate;
          487Her heart was starving all this while
          488    You made it wait.

          489  "Ten years ago, five years ago,
          490    One year ago,
          491Even then you had arrived in time,
          492    Though somewhat slow;
          493Then you had known her living face
          494    Which now you cannot know:
          495The frozen fountain would have leaped,
          496    The buds gone on to blow,
          497The warm south wind would have awaked
          498    To melt the snow.

          499  "Is she fair now as she lies?
          500    Once she was fair;
          501Meet queen for any kingly king,
          502    With gold-dust on her hair.
          503Now these are poppies in her locks,
          504    White poppies she must wear;
          505Must wear a veil to shroud her face
          506    And the want graven there:
          507Or is the hunger fed at length,
          508    Cast off the care?

          509  "We never saw her with a smile
          510    Or with a frown;
          511Her bed seemed never soft to her,
          512    Though tossed of down;
          513She little heeded what she wore,
          514    Kirtle, or wreath, or gown;
          515We think her white brows often ached
          516    Beneath her crown,
          517Till silvery hairs showed in her locks
          518    That used to be so brown.

          519  "We never heard her speak in haste;
          520    Her tones were sweet,
          521And modulated just so much
          522    As it was meet:
          523Her heart sat silent through the noise
          524    And concourse of the street.
          525There was no hurry in her hands,
          526    No hurry in her feet;
          527There was no bliss drew nigh to her,
          528    That she might run to greet.

          529  "You should have wept her yesterday,
          530    Wasting upon her bed:
          531But wherefore should you weep to-day
          532    That she is dead?
          533Lo we who love weep not to-day,
          534    But crown her royal head.
          535Let be these poppies that we strew,
          536    Your roses are too red:
          537Let be these poppies, not for you
          538    Cut down and spread."

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, The prince's progress, and other poems (London: Macmillan, 1866). end R673 P75 1866 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto). Text from Christina Rossetti, Poems (1890).
First publication date: 1866
RPO poem editor: J. D. Robins
RP edition: 2RP 2.593.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/14

Composition date: 1861
Rhyme: abcbdefege

Other poems by Christina Rossetti