Christina Rosetti, Valentine

February 14, 2013   •   By Eloise Klein Healy

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]