Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Weights and Measures Do Us Both a Wrong

I loved you first: but afterwards your love
by Christina Rossetti


Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda. – Dante
Ogni altra cosa, ogni pensier va fore,
E sol ivi con voi rimansi amore. – Petrarca

I loved you first: but afterwards your love
Outsoaring mine, sang such a loftier song
As drowned the friendly cooings of my dove.
Which owes the other most? my love was long,
And yours one moment seemed to wax more strong;
I loved and guessed at you, you construed me
And loved me for what might or might not be –
Nay, weights and measures do us both a wrong.
For verily love knows not ‘mine’ or ‘thine;’
With separate ‘I’ and ‘thou’ free love has done,
For one is both and both are one in love:
Rich love knows nought of ‘thine that is not mine;’
Both have the strength and both the length thereof,
Both of us, of the love which makes us one.

The Dante quotation means, roughly, "A little spark is followed by a great flame." It is part of the opening canto of the Paradiso. The Petrarch is, again roughly, "Every other thing, every thought, goes out, and only love of you remains." This Rosetti poem opens the "Monna Innominata: A Sonnet of Sonnets".

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