The Prince's Progress
Christina Rossetti, The prince's progress, and other poems (London: Macmillan, 1866). end R673 P75 1866 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto). Text from Christina Rossetti, Poems (1890).
"Too late for love, too late for joy,
480 Too late, too late!
481You loitered on the road too long,
482 You trifled at the gate:
483The enchanted dove upon her branch
484 Died without a mate.
485The enchanted princess in her tower
486 Slept, died, behind the grate;
487Her heart was starving all this while
488 You made it wait.
489 "Ten years ago, five years ago,
490 One year ago,
491Even then you had arrived in time,
492 Though somewhat slow;
493Then you had known her living face
494 Which now you cannot know:
495The frozen fountain would have leaped,
496 The buds gone on to blow,
497The warm south wind would have awaked
498 To melt the snow.
499 "Is she fair now as she lies?
500 Once she was fair;
501Meet queen for any kingly king,
502 With gold-dust on her hair.
503Now these are poppies in her locks,
504 White poppies she must wear;
505Must wear a veil to shroud her face
506 And the want graven there:
507Or is the hunger fed at length,
508 Cast off the care?
509 "We never saw her with a smile
510 Or with a frown;
511Her bed seemed never soft to her,
512 Though tossed of down;
513She little heeded what she wore,
514 Kirtle, or wreath, or gown;
515We think her white brows often ached
516 Beneath her crown,
517Till silvery hairs showed in her locks
518 That used to be so brown.
519 "We never heard her speak in haste;
520 Her tones were sweet,
521And modulated just so much
522 As it was meet:
523Her heart sat silent through the noise
524 And concourse of the street.
525There was no hurry in her hands,
526 No hurry in her feet;
527There was no bliss drew nigh to her,
528 That she might run to greet.
529 "You should have wept her yesterday,
530 Wasting upon her bed:
531But wherefore should you weep to-day
532 That she is dead?
533Lo we who love weep not to-day,
534 But crown her royal head.
535Let be these poppies that we strew,
536 Your roses are too red:
537Let be these poppies, not for you
538 Cut down and spread."
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J. D. Robins