POETRY: Twice, by Christina Rossetti

Twice Christina Rossetti

I took my heart in my hand,
(O my love, O my love),
I said: Let me fall or stand,
Let me live or die,
But this once hear me speak
(O my love, O my love)—
Yet a woman’s words are weak;
You should speak, not I.

You took my heart in your hand
With a friendly smile,
With a critical eye you scann’d,
Then set it down,
And said: “It is still unripe,
Better wait awhile;
Wait while the skylarks pipe,
Till the corn grows brown.”

As you set it down it broke—
Broke, but I did not wince;
I smiled at the speech you spoke,
At your judgment I heard:
But I have not often smiled
Since then, nor question’d since,
Nor cared for cornflowers wild,
Nor sung with the singing bird.

I take my heart in my hand,
O my God, O my God,
My broken heart in my hand:
Thou hast seen, judge Thou.
My hope was written on sand,
O my God, O my God:
Now let Thy judgment stand—
Yea, judge me now.

This contemn’d of a man,
This marr’d one heedless day,
This heart take Thou to scan
Both within and without:
Refine with fire its gold,
Purge Thou its dross away—
Yea, hold it in Thy hold,
Whence none can pluck it out.

I take my heart in my hand—
I shall not die, but live—
Before Thy face I stand;
I, for Thou callest such:
All that I have I bring,
All that I am I give,
Smile Thou and I shall sing,
But shall not question much.

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