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Sunday Sonnet

The number of sonnet sequences appropriate for Sunday are few. There is Donne, Baxter and Locke: many religious poems are not in this form. But after Newman last week, a lament at his death by one of the best Victorian poetesses: I prefer Rossetti to Dickinson.

Cardinal Newman

“In the grave, whither thou goest.”

O weary Champion of the Cross, lie still:
Sleep thou at length the all-embracing sleep:
Long was thy sowing day, rest now and reap:
Thy fast was long, feast now thy spirit’s fill.

Yea, take thy fill of love, because thy will
Chose love not in the shallows but the deep:
Thy tides were springtides, set against the neap
Of calmer souls: thy flood rebuked their rill.

Now night has come to thee–please God, of rest:
So some time must it come to every man;
To first and last, where many last are first.
Now fixed and finished thine eternal plan,

Thy best has done its best, thy worst its worst:
Thy best its best, please God, thy best its best.

Christina Rossetti

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