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Echo(1862)

Christina Rossetti

Come to me in the silence of the night;
MeterCome to me in the silence of the night;
Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
MeterCome in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
MeterCome with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
As sunlight on a stream;
MeterAs sunlight on a stream;
Come back in tears,
MeterCome back in tears,
O memory, hope and love of finished years.
MeterO memory, hope and love of finished years.

O dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter-sweet,
MeterO dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter-sweet,

Note on line 7: It’s possible, though not mandatory, to lean on nearly every syllable in this lingering, cherishing line. Should one, or shouldn’t one? What does this obsessive poem think of its arcane indulgences?

Whose wakening should have been in Paradise,
MeterWhose wakening should have been in Paradise,
Where souls brim-full of love abide and meet;
MeterWhere souls brim-full of love abide and meet;
Where thirsting longing eyes
MeterWhere thirsting longing eyes
Watch the slow door
MeterWatch the slow door
That opening, letting in, lets out no more.
MeterThat opening, letting in, lets out no more.

Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live
MeterYet come to me in dreams, that I may live
My very life again though cold in death;
MeterMy very life again though cold in death;
Come back to me in dreams, that I may give
MeterCome back to me in dreams, that I may give
Pulse for pulse, breath for breath:
MeterPulse for pulse, breath for breath:

Note on line 16: This line frames its other-worldly hunger so superbly as to exact for the time being, and from the reader, the reciprocation that the speaker craves in vain from a vanished love. The meter times our pulse to Rossetti’s, as the caesura metes out our breath. It’s impossible, during the life of the line at least, to tell overture from requital, laying out from paying back. The line that follows should be easy after this one, though it should be noted that the subject of its verbs might again be either “I” or “you.” Both lines owe much to the framing metrical regularity of the rest of this stanza.

Speak low, lean low,
MeterSpeak low, lean low,
As long ago, my love, how long ago.
MeterAs long ago, my love, how long ago.

Rhyme
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