Sunday, June 16, 2013

When Robin's Not a Beggar

by Christina Rossetti

Winter is cold-hearted,
Spring is yea and nay,
Autumn is a weathercock
Blown every way:
Summer days for me
When every leaf is on its tree;

When Robin's not a beggar,
And Jenny Wren's a bride,
And larks hang singing, singing, singing,
Over the wheat-fields wide,
And anchored lilies ride,
And the pendulum spider
Swings from side to side,

And blue-black beetles transact business,
And gnats fly in a host,
And furry caterpillars hasten
That no time be lost,
And moths grow fat and thrive,
And ladybirds arrive.

Before green apples blush,
Before green nuts embrown,
Why, one day in the country
Is worth a month in town;
Is worth a day and a year
Of the dusty, musty, lag-last fashion
That days drone elsewhere.

The reference to Jenny Wren is a reference to the folktale of Cock Robin and Jenny Wren, which also is found referred to in a number of nursery rhymes, most famously, "Who Killed Cock Robin?". It's one of those cheerful stories, about how Cock Robin and Jenny Wren get married and Cock Robin gets killed by a stray arrow on his wedding day. Fortunately for Robin (and Jenny Wren) here, Rossetti gets his part in the poem not from this story but from another nursery rhyme, "The Robin in Winter".

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