Christina Rosetti, Valentine

By Eloise Klein HealyFebruary 14, 2013

Christina Rosetti, Valentine

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.

[more Valentine's Day poems]


LARB Contributor

Eloise Klein Healy is the author of seven books of poetry and three spoken word recordings.  She is the founding editor of Arktoi Books, an imprint of Red Hen Press specializing in the work of lesbian authors. Her latest collection of poems is A Wild Surmise: New & Selected Poems & Recordings. Healy was recently appointed the first Poet Laureate of The City of Los Angeles.


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