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About this Poem 

This poem was published in Poems of Christina Rossetti (Macmillan, 1904).

A Chilly Night

I rose at the dead of night,
     And went to the lattice alone
To look for my Mother’s ghost
     Where the ghostly moonlight shone.

My friends had failed one by one,
     Middle-aged, young, and old,
Till the ghosts were warmed to me
     Than my friends that had grown cold.

I looked and I saw the ghosts
     Dotting plain and mound:
They stood in the blank moonlight,
     But no shadow lay on the ground:
They spoke without a voice
     And they leaped without a sound.

I called: ‘O my Mother dear,’—
     I sobbed: ‘O my Mother kind,
Make a lonely bed for me
     And shelter it from the wind.

‘Tell the others not to come
     To see me night or day:
But I need not tell my friends
     To be sure to keep away.’

My Mother raised her eyes,
     They were blank and could not see:
Yet they held me with their stare
     While they seemed to look at me.

She opened her mouth and spoke;
     I could not hear a word,
While my flesh crept on my bones
     And every hair was stirred.

She knew that I could not hear
     The message that she told
Whether I had long to wait
     Or soon should sleep in the mould:
I saw her toss her shadowless hair
     And wring her hands in the cold.

I strained to catch her words,
     And she strained to make me hear;
But never a sound of words
     Fell on my straining ear.

From midnight to the cockcrow
     I kept my watch in pain
While the subtle ghosts grew subtler
     In the sad night on the wane.

From midnight to the cockcrow
     I watched till all were gone,
Some to sleep in the shifting sea
     And some under turf and stone:
Living had failed and dead had failed,
     And I was indeed alone.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti

Born in 1839 in London, Christina Rossetti, the author of Goblin Market and Other Poems, is increasingly being considered a major Victorian Poet

by this poet

poem
Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome
      Has many sonnets: so here now shall be
   One sonnet more, a love sonnet, from me
To her whose heart is my heart’s quiet home,
   To my first Love, my Mother, on whose knee
I learnt love-lore that is not troublesome;
   Whose service is my special dignity,
And she
poem

Many have sung of love a root of bane:
       While to my mind a root of balm it is,
    For love at length breeds love; sufficient bliss
For life and death and rising up again.
Surely when light of Heaven makes all things plain,
    Love will grow plain with all its mysteries;
    Nor

poem

To-day's your natal day;
   Sweet flowers I bring:
Mother, accept, I pray
   My offering.

And may you happy live,
   And long us bless;
Receiving as you give
   Great happiness.