The First Day
Christina Rossetti

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.

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).