Rose Honey in Poetry by Christina Rossetti

A city plum is not a plum;
A dumb-bell is no bell, though dumb;
A party rat is not a rat;
A sailor’s cat is not a cat;
A soldier’s frog is not a frog;
A captain’s log is not a log.

*


A rose has thorns as well as honey,
I’ll not have her for love or money;
An iris grows so straight and fine,
That she shall be no friend of mine;
Snowdrops like the snow would chill me;
Nightshade would caress and kill me;
Crocus like a spear would fright me;
Dragon’s-mouth might bark or bite me;
Convolvulus but blooms to die;
A wind-flower suggests a sigh;
Love-lies-bleeding makes me sad;
And poppy-juice would drive me mad:–
But give me holly, bold and jolly,
Honest, prickly, shining holly;
Pluck me holly leaf and berry
For the day when I make merry.

*

If stars dropped out of heaven,
And if flowers took their place,
The sky would still look very fair,
  And fair earth’s face.

Winged angels might fly down to us
  To pluck the stars,
Be we could only long for flowers
  Beyond the cloudy bars.

*

from Sing-Song (1893) by Christina Rossetti

This poet (b. 1830) has appealed to me, her selected poems found recently at the library, in what I’ve seen of her own satisfaction and pull toward poems of her own that would read more daring or bold or quicker in pace than the more reserved, proper type ones.

There’s a certain ease and amusement into the last line with very little effort to appear anyway other than as herself in the poems…

Sometimes the person the speaker writes to may be depicted as gentle or tender or resilient, in a satisfying tone or longing contrast with the speaker, with adoration.

In a subtle, subconscious way I feel that Rossetti’s poetry must have been inspiring my own painting in progress at a time I’d reflected upon hers. The still life is from my imagination, as if seen through my eyes in a certain light at that hour and day and as if from that other perspective Christina Rossetti writes to in her poems.


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