Goblin Market, and other poems, by Christina Rossetti

Twilight Calm

        Oh, pleasant eventide!

        Clouds on the western side

Grow grey and greyer hiding the warm sun:

The bees and birds, their happy labours done,

        Seek their close nests and bide.

        Screened in the leafy wood

        The stock-doves sit and brood:

The very squirrel leaps from bough to bough

But lazily; pauses; and settles now

        Where once he stored his food.

        One by one the flowers close,

        Lily and dewy rose

Shutting their tender petals from the moon:

The grasshoppers are still; but not so soon

        Are still the noisy crows.

        The dormouse squats and eats

        Choice little dainty bits

Beneath the spreading roots of a broad lime;

Nibbling his fill he stops from time to time

        And listens where he sits.

        From far the lowings come

        Of cattle driven home:

From farther still the wind brings fitfully

The vast continual murmur of the sea,

        Now loud, now almost dumb.

        The gnats whirl in the air,

        The evening gnats; and there

The owl opes broad his eyes and wings to sail

For prey; the bat wakes; and the shell-less snail

        Comes forth, clammy and bare.

        Hark! that’s the nightingale,

        Telling the selfsame tale

Her song told when this ancient earth was young:

So echoes answered when her song was sung

        In the first wooded vale.

        We call it love and pain

        The passion of her strain;

And yet we little understand or know:

Why should it not be rather joy that so

        Throbs in each throbbing vein?

        In separate herds the deer

        Lie; here the bucks, and here

The does, and by its mother sleeps the fawn:

Through all the hours of night until the dawn

        They sleep, forgetting fear.

        The hare sleeps where it lies,

        With wary half-closed eyes;

The cock has ceased to crow, the hen to cluck:

Only the fox is out, some heedless duck

        Or chicken to surprise.

        Remote, each single star

        Comes out, till there they are

All shining brightly: how the dews fall damp!

While close at hand the glow-worm lights her lamp

        Or twinkles from afar.

        But evening now is done

        As much as if the sun

Day-giving had arisen in the East:

For night has come; and the great calm has ceased,

        The quiet sands have run.


Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 15:33