Christina Georgina Rossetti, was born in London (1830-94), and is best known as an English lyric poet. Some of her earliest verse was published in the Germ (1850), a Pre-Raphaelite journal. She sat as a model for a number of paintings by her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti and other Pre-Raphaelites, although she was not a member of the movement. Much of her work was religious in nature; the themes of renunciation of earthly love and concern with death shadow such favorite poems as "When I Am Dead, My Dearest" and "Up-Hill". A devout Anglican, she spent the last 15 years of her life as a recluse. At the same time, however, Rossetti wrote delightful verse for children, such as the charming lyrics in Sing-Song: A Nursery Rhyme Book (1872). The most important collections of her work are Goblin Market and Other Poems (1862), considered her finest poetry, and The Princes Progress and Other Poems (1866).
The First Day
I wish I could remember the first day,
First hour, first moments 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 for many a May.
If only I could recollect it!
Such a day of days!
Let it come and go
As traceless as a thaw of bygone snow.
It seemed 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!
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace:
I love thee to the level of every days guilty need,
By sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right,
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise,
I love with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhoods faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my last saints,
I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears of all my life
And if God chose,
I shall but love thee better after death.