Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
The Heart Knoweth Its Own Bitterness
By Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830–1894)
From ‘New Poems’

WHEN all the over-work of life
  Is finished once, and fast asleep
We swerve no more beneath the knife,
  But taste the silence cool and deep:
Forgetful of the highways rough,        5
  Forgetful of the thorny scourge,
  Forgetful of the tossing surge,
Then shall we find it is enough?
How can we say “enough” on earth—
  “Enough” with such a craving heart?        10
I have not found it since my birth,
  But still have bartered part for part.
I have not held and hugged the whole,
  But paid the old to gain the new:
  Much have I paid, yet much is due,        15
Till I am beggared sense and soul.
I used to labor, used to strive
  For pleasure with a restless will:
Now if I save my soul alive,
  All else what matters, good or ill?        20
I used to dream alone, to plan
  Unspoken hopes and days to come:
  Of all my past this is the sum,—
I will not lean on child of man.
To give, to give, not to receive!        25
  I long to pour myself, my soul,
Not to keep back or count or leave,
  But king with king to give the whole.
I long for one to stir my deep,—
  I have had enough of help and gift;        30
  I long for one to search and sift
Myself, to take myself, and keep.
You scratch my surface with your pin,
  You stroke me smooth with hushing breath:
Nay, pierce, nay, probe, nay, dig within,—        35
  Probe my quick core and sound my depth.
You call me with a puny call,
  You talk, you smile, you nothing do:
  How should I spend my heart on you,
My heart that so outweighs you all?        40
Your vessels are by much too strait:
  Were I to pour you, you could not hold.
Bear with me: I must bear to wait,
  A fountain sealed through heat and cold.
Bear with me days or months or years:        45
  Deep must call deep until the end,
  When friend shall no more envy friend
Nor vex his friend at unawares.
Not in this world of hope deferred,
  This world of perishable stuff;        50
Eye hath not seen nor ear hath heard
  Nor heart conceived that full “enough”:
Here moans the separating sea;
  Here harvests fail; here breaks the heart:
  There God shall join and no man part,        55
I full of Christ and Christ of me.

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