portrait by her brother
Rossetti, Christina Rossetti (1866)

I never said I loved you, John:
Why will you tease me day by day,
And wax a weariness to think upon
With always “do” and “pray”?

You know I never loved you John;
No fault of mine made me your toast:
Why will you haunt me with a face as wan
As shows an hour-old ghost?

I dare say Meg or Moll would take
Pity upon you, if you’d ask:
And pray don’t remain single for my sake
Who can’t perform that task.

I have no heart?—Perhaps I have not;
But then you’re mad to take offence
That I don’t give you what I haven’t got:
Use your own common sense.

Let bygones be bygones:
Don’t call me false, who owed not to be true:
I’d rather answer “No” to fifty Johns
Than answer “Yes” to you.

Let’s mar our pleasant days no more,
Song-birds of passage, days of youth:
Catch at today, forget the days before:
I’ll wink at your untruth.

Let us strike hands as hearty friends;
No more, no less; and friendship’s good:
Only don’t keep ulterior ends,
And points not understood

In open treaty. Rise above
Quibbles and shuffling off and on:
Here’s friendship for you if you like; but love,—
No, thank you, John.

by Christina Rossetti, first published in 1862.

For further explorations see:

http://www.victorianweb.org/painting/brett/paintings/hickox3.html

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