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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE HEART KNOWETH ITS OWN BITTERNESS' (2), by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: When all the overwork of life
Last Line: I full of christ and christ of me.
Alternate Author Name(s): Alleyne, Ellen; Rossetti, Christina
Subject(s): God; Hearts; Labor & Laborers; Life; Soul; Work; Workers

When all the over-work of life
Is finished once, and fast asleep
We swerve no more beneath the knife
But taste that silence cool and deep;
Forgetful of the highways rough,
Forgetful of the thorny scourge,
Forgetful of the tossing surge,
Then shall we find it is enough? --

How can we say 'enough' on earth;
'Enough' with such a craving heart:
I have not found it since my birth
But still have bartered part for part.
I have not held and hugged the whole,
But paid the old to gain the new;
Much have I paid, yet much is due,
Till I am beggared sense and soul.

I used to labour, used to strive
For pleasure with a restless will:
Now if I save my soul alive
All else what matters, good or ill?
I used to dream alone, to plan
Unspoken hopes and days to come: --
Of all my past this is the sum:
I will not lean on child of man.

To give, to give, not to receive,
I long to pour myself, my soul,
Not to keep back or count or leave
But king with king to give the whole:
I long for one to stir my deep --
I have had enough of help and gift --
I long for one to search and sift
Myself, to take myself and keep.

You scratch my surface with your pin;
You stroke me smooth with hushing breath; --
Nay pierce, nay probe, nay dig within,
Probe my quick core and sound my depth.
You call me with a puny call,
You talk, you smile, you nothing do;
How should I spend my heart on you,
My heart that so outweighs you all?

Your vessels are by much too strait;
Were I to pour you could not hold,
Bear with me: I must bear to wait
A fountain sealed thro' heat and cold.
Bear with me days or months or years;
Deep must call deep until the end
When friend shall no more envy friend
Nor vex his friend at unawares.

Not in this world of hope deferred,
This world of perishable stuff; --
Eye hath not seen, nor ear hath heard,
Nor heart conceived that full 'enough':
Here moans the separating sea,
Here harvests fail, here breaks the heart;
There God shall join and no man part,
I full of Christ and Christ of me.

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