One of the Dead

Paler, not quite so fair as in her life,
She lies upon the bed, perfectly still;
Her little hands clasped with a patient will
Upon her bosom, swelling without strife;
An honoured virgin, a most blameless wife.
The roses lean upon the window sill,
That she trained once; their sweets the hot air fill,
And make the death-apartment odour-rife.
Her meek white hands folded upon her breast,
Her gentle eyes closed in the long last sleep,
She lieth down in her unbroken rest;
Her kin, kneeling around, a vigil keep,
Venting their grief in low sobs unrepressed:—
Friends, she but slumbers, wherefore do ye weep?
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Joris's picture

It's a nice little poem.
Very much in the style of gothic romantic imagery. Rossetti plays here with the boundary between life and death.
Already from the first sentence I understand that the 'pale' person is not alive anymore. But then, in the second sentence, she starts with: 'lies ... perfectly still', which gives me the impression that 'she' actually has to make an effort to lay this perfectly still. Why is this? Laying perfectly motionless should come naturally to the dead. Well, in my imagination of the dead, at least, And Christina Rossetti furthers strengthens this unease with that delicate third sentence: 'Her little hands clasped with a patient will'. How come? Do the dead have a will of their own?
It is a nice, unsettling start.

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