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09 August 2012

You see I cannot see—your lifetime—

You see I cannot see—your lifetime—
I must guess—
How many times it ache for me—today—Confess—
How many times for my far sake
The brave eyes film—
But I guess guessing hurts—
Mine—got so dim!

Too vague—the face—
My own—so patient—covets—
Too far—the strength—
My timidness enfolds—
Haunting the Heart—
Like her translated faces—
Teasing the want—
It—only—can suffice!
                                                            F313 (1862)  253

Christina Rossetti (1866)
another famous woman in love
In this simple love poem, the poet wonders if her lover misses her the way she misses him (or her). Although she imagines that he “aches” for missing her, she can only guess at how often that happens. She imagines his eyes filming with tears and confesses that her own “got so dim” with her own tears.
            When someone is gone for a long time we lose a clear mental picture of them. And so Dickinson writes that the face she “covets” has become “vague” in her imagination. Although she misses his strength, she believes her own timidness can increase it.
            Like so many lovers, she wants to haunt his heart, tease out the love he has for her alone, for it would surely would not do to have him forget her or find someone else.   


  1. What is up with those “Translated faces”?

    1. It isn't entirely clear, so good question. I think the woman 'translates' her fading memories into the loved one's face. She can't quite recall the true face because her memory becomes 'too vague' over time Each memory of the beloved wears a slightly different face.

      If you have other ideas I'd love to hear them!

  2. Just realised that a lovely piece of music by German jazz musicians Roger Cicero and Julia Hülsmann is based around this poem. The music captures beautifully the uncertainty and ache of the poem in a great connection across 150 years. Timeless art...

    1. Is there a link to this you can share?

    2. Here is the YouTube link:

    3. Thank you! It’s lovely.