FEBRUARY 14, 2013
YEARS AGO, I was at a conference when an unlikely fax appeared in my hotel mailbox: the first two lines of a poem by Christina Rossetti, signed “C.” Indeed, my heart, too, was like a singing bird because I thought I knew who’d sent it, a woman I had only recently met and who fascinated me a bit. It seemed a bold thing for her to do. I had perceived her as a shy person, shy but very intense. So, 27 years later, I am sending the entire poem to her for Valentine’s Day. All of it has come true.
— Eloise Klein Healey
Christina Rossetti, “A Birthday”
My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.
Raise me a dais of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.