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The Ghost’s Petition

'There's a footstep coming: look out and see,'
'The leaves are falling, the wind is calling;
No one cometh across the lea.'—

'There's a footstep coming; O sister, look.'—
'The ripple flashes, the white foam dashes;
No one cometh across the brook.'—

'But he promised that he would come:
To-night, to-morrow, in joy or sorrow,
He must keep his word, and must come home.

'For he promised that he would come:
His word was given; from earth or heaven,
He must keep his word, and must come home.

'Go to sleep, my sweet sister Jane;
You can slumber, who need not number
Hour after hour, in doubt and pain.

'I shall sit here awhile, and watch;
Listening, hoping, for one hand groping
In deep shadow to find the latch.'

After the dark, and before the light,
One lay sleeping; and one sat weeping,
Who had watched and wept the weary night.

After the night, and before the day,
One lay sleeping; and one sat weeping—
Watching, weeping for one away.

There came a footstep climbing the stair;
Some one standing out on the landing
Shook the door like a puff of air—

Shook the door, and in he passed.
Did he enter? In the room centre
Stood her husband: the door shut fast.

'O Robin, but you are cold—
Chilled with the night-dew: so lily-white you
Look like a stray lamb from our fold.

'O Robin, but you are late:
Come and sit near me—sit here and cheer me.'—
(Blue the flame burnt in the grate.)

'Lay not down your head on my breast:
I cannot hold you, kind wife, nor fold you
In the shelter that you love best.

'Feel not after my clasping hand:
I am but a shadow, come from the meadow
Where many lie, but no tree can stand.

'We are trees which have shed their leaves:
Our heads lie low there, but no tears flow there;
Only I grieve for my wife who grieves.

'I could rest if you would not moan
Hour after hour; I have no power
To shut my ears where I lie alone.

'I could rest if you would not cry;
But there's no sleeping while you sit weeping—
Watching, weeping so bitterly.'—

'Woe's me! woe's me! for this I have heard.
Oh night of sorrow!—oh black to-morrow!
Is it thus that you keep your word?

'O you who used so to shelter me
Warm from the least wind—why, now the east wind
Is warmer than you, whom I quake to see.

'O my husband of flesh and blood,
For whom my mother I left, and brother,
And all I had, accounting it good,

'What do you do there, underground,
In the dark hollow? I'm fain to follow.
What do you do there?—what have you found?'—

'What I do there I must not tell:
But I have plenty: kind wife, content ye:
It is well with us—it is well.

'Tender hand hath made our nest;
Our fear is ended, our hope is blended
With present pleasure, and we have rest.'—

'Oh, but Robin, I'm fain to come,
If your present days are so pleasant;
For my days are so wearisome.

'Yet I'll dry my tears for your sake:
Why should I tease you, who cannot please you
Any more with the pains I take?'

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:52 min read
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Christina Georgina Rossetti

Christina Georgina Rossetti was an English poet who wrote various romantic, devotional, and children's poems. "Goblin Market" and "Remember" remain famous. She wrote the words of two Christmas carols well known in the UK: "In the Bleak Midwinter", later set by Gustav Holst and by Harold Darke, and "Love Came Down at Christmas", set by Harold Darke and by other composers. more…

All Christina Georgina Rossetti poems | Christina Georgina Rossetti Books

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