When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.
I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Happily I may remember,
And happily may forget.
(December 5th 1830 - December 29th 1894)
She also wrote the words of two Christmas carols well known in the British Isles: "In the Bleak Midwinter", later set to music by Gustav Holst and by Harold Darke, and "Love Came Down at Christmas", also set by Harold Darke and other composers.
This poem was written on December 12th 1848, just after Christina Rossetti's 18th birthday,as an engagement present to the painter James Collinson.
She broke off the engagement when he returned to the Catholic faith - and never married. "Grown old before my time,"as she put it, she suffered from ill-health most of her life, and was operated on for cancer.
She died later, according to one report, whilst "in the act of prayer". Christina Rossetti died of Grave's disease December 29th 1894.