Poetry Sunday: A Dirge

Here's a short poem by Christina Rossetti. A dirge that references the end of summer "when lithe swallows muster for their far off flying from summer dying..."

Summer won't be dying here for several more weeks, but some of the "lithe swallows" are already gathering. Purple Martins, for example. They are among the earliest of our summer birds to arrive, in late January or early February, and the earliest to leave, often in early July. 

Last week, though, I still heard some late-goers flying about in my neighborhood, gathering for their long journey south, reluctant, perhaps, to say a final good-bye to summer's abundance. 

A Dirge

by Christina Rossetti
Why were you born when the snow was falling? 
You should have come to the cuckoo’s calling, 
Or when grapes are green in the cluster, 
Or, at least, when lithe swallows muster 
For their far off flying 
From summer dying. 

Why did you die when the lambs were cropping? 
You should have died at the apples’ dropping, 
When the grasshopper comes to trouble, 
And the wheat-fields are sodden stubble, 
And all winds go sighing 
For sweet things dying. 


  1. For whatever it is worth, I was born just before the start of winter. Is that why winter is my least favorite time of year?

    1. And I was born in the middle of summer, at "the cuckoo's calling," and summer is my least favorite season. I think our prejudices may be affected by the harshness of those two seasons in our respective environments.

  2. Replies
    1. Rosetti wrote some very pretty - and insightful - poetry.

  3. Christina Rossetti is the best! Perhaps I need to get a book of her poems.


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