by: Christina Rossetti
- HE gave up beauty in her tender
- Gave all her hope and joy and pleasant ways;
- She covered up her eyes lest they should gaze
- On vanity, and chose the bitter truth.
- Harsh towards herself, towards others full of ruth,
- Servant of servants, little known to praise,
- Long prayers and fasts trenched on her nights and days:
- She schooled herself to sights and sounds uncouth
- That with the poor and stricken she might make
- A home, until the least of all sufficed
- Her wants; her own self learned she to forsake,
- Counting all earthly gain but hurt and loss.
- So with calm will she chose and bore the cross
- And hated all for love of Jesus Christ.
- They knelt in silent anguish by her bed,
- And could not weep; but calmly there she lay.
- All pain had left her; and the sun's last ray
- Shone through upon her; warming into red
- The shady curtains. In her heart she said:
- 'Heaven opens; I leave these and go away;
- The Bridegroom calls,--shall the Bride seek to stay?'
- Then low upon her breast she bowed her head.
- O lily flower, O gem of priceless worth,
- O dove with patient voice and patient eyes,
- O fruitful vine amid a land of dearth,
- O maid replete with loving purities,
- Thou bowedst down thy head with friends on earth
- To raise it with the saints in Paradise.
MORE POEMS BY CHRISTINA ROSSETTI
"A Portrait" is reprinted
from Goblin Market, The Prince's Progress and Other Poems.
Christina Rosetti. London: Macmillan 1879.