The House of Life: 72. The Choice, II

By Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828–1882
Watch thou and fear; to-morrow thou shalt die.
         Or art thou sure thou shalt have time for death?
         Is not the day which God's word promiseth
To come man knows not when? In yonder sky,
Now while we speak, the sun speeds forth: can I
         Or thou assure him of his goal? God's breath
         Even at this moment haply quickeneth
The air to a flame; till spirits, always nigh

Though screen'd and hid, shall walk the daylight here.
         And dost thou prate of all that man shall do?
                Canst thou, who hast but plagues, presume to be
                Glad in his gladness that comes after thee?
         Will his strength slay thy worm in Hell? Go to:
Cover thy countenance, and watch, and fear.

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Poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828–1882

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Religion, Arts & Sciences, Living, Philosophy, Death, God & the Divine

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Biography

Dante Gabriel Rossetti was born 12 May 1828 in London, the second child and eldest son of Italian expatriates. His father, Gabriele Rossetti, was a Dante scholar, who had been exiled from Naples for writing poetry in support of the Neapolitan Constitution of 1819. Rossetti’s mother had trained as a governess and supervised her children's early education. Few Victorian families were as gifted as the Rossettis: the oldest child, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Arts & Sciences, Living, Philosophy, Death, God & the Divine

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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