Pause. Reflect. Remember.

Today would have been my Grandma’s birthday; instead, it’s the day of her funeral. So I decided to post the poem that I’m hoping to read later at the service. I chose it as it sums up her attitude to life- and death (I cried the first time I spoke to her after her diagnosis of liver and lung cancer. She told me, not unkindly, to pull myself together and keep my chin up.)

Christina Rossetti is the poet I turn to most frequently at times involving family; I wore a pendant with a line from Birthday on my wedding day and it feels right that she’s with me again today.

Remember

Remember me when I am gone away,
         Gone far away into the silent land;
         When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
         You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
         Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
         And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
         For if the darkness and corruption leave
         A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
         Than that you should remember and be sad.

A Birthday- Christina Rossetti

As it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d avoid the usual gushy stuff and put another poem up. This time I chose Christina Rossetti, who wrote some astonishing poetry. I love the simple, joyful tone of this poem and the fact that it shows love as something lovely yet undramatic. The first line of this poem was stamped into a necklace I wore on my wedding day.

A Birthday

My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a dais of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.

File:Christina Rossetti 2.jpg

Christina Rossetti painted by her brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Image: Wikipedia

No Coward Soul Is Mine

Today is my stepmum’s funeral. She died very suddenly and it has been an odd couple of weeks; although I didn’t know her very well, she was always kind and supportive. After she died one of my favourite poems, No Coward Soul Is Mine by Emily Bronte, kept running through my head. I thought I would post it here today. If you’d like some good analysis of it, you can find some here.

No Coward Soul Is Mine

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heaven’s glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from Fear.

O God within my breast,
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life – that in me hast rest,
As I – Undying Life- have power in Thee!

Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men’s hearts, unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,

To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thine infinity;
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of immortality.

With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears

Though Earth and moon were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou wert left alone,
Every Existence would exist in Thee.

There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou – Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.