‘Sudden Light’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door;
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.You have been mine before, –
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at the swallow’s soar
Your neck turned so,
Some veil did fall, – I knew it all of yore.
Has this been thus before?
And shall not thus time’s eddying flight
Still with our lives our love restore
In death’s despite,
And day and night yield one delight once more?
I think this is a truly startling poem about the moment of falling in love. It is about the phenomenon where (when it’s real) loving someone can feel like you have “been here before”. It is about deja vu.Rossetti starts his second stanza with the words “You have been mine before”; he does not remember how long ago, but he feels a connection to the person that is impossible to explain. Just a gesture or movement can open up memories: she turns her head and “some veil did fall, – I knew it all of yore”.
I love this poem because it’s very romantic and mystical.

Although I have posted a few poems by Christina Rossetti on this blog, this is the first one that I have read by her brother, and I look forward to reading more of his work.

Reviewed by Emily Ardagh