Tuesday, December 04, 2012

By Day She Woos Me

The World
by Christina Rossetti

By day she woos me, soft, exceeding fair:
But all night as the moon so changeth she;
Loathsome and foul with hideous leprosy
And subtle serpents gliding in her hair.
By day she woos me to the outer air,
Ripe fruits, sweet flowers, and full satiety:
But through the night, a beast she grins at me,
A very monster void of love and prayer.
By day she stands a lie: by night she stands
In all the naked horror of the truth
With pushing horns and clawed and clutching hands.
Is this a friend indeed; that I should sell
My soul to her, give her my life and youth,
Till my feet, cloven too, take hold on hell?

An allusion, of course, to the old saw that there are three Enemies: the World, the Flesh, and the Devil.


  1. Brigitte11:57 AM

    What a fearful vision! I feel I must turn this poet's specter up-side-down: it is during the day that I am now too often reminded of " the naked horror of the truth",. The night woos me with its pleasing silence and enveloping warmth into contented and refreshing sleep.

  2. branemrys1:49 PM

    It's rather nightmarish, isn't it? One thing I like about it is that Christina Rossetti is often treated as a cutesy author -- poems all about children and flowers and the like. But she had some steel in her!

    I think there's much to be said in night's defense, too.


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