Poem introduction

In this poem Christina Rossetti combines something abstract, a promise, with the warm buttery earthliness of a pie-crust. It shows once again the ease with which she can fit her thought into riddles, myths, folk-sayings, proverbs and make these her own. There’s a contrast between the freedom and impulsiveness of love and the human desire to constrain it and shape it with promises, betrothals, engagements and social institutions.

Promises like Pie-Crust

Promise me no promises,
So will I not promise you:
Keep we both our liberties,
Never false and never true:
Let us hold the die uncast,
Free to come as free to go:
For I cannot know your past,
And of mine what can you know?

You, so warm, may once have been
Warmer towards another one:
I, so cold, may once have seen
Sunlight, once have felt the sun:
Who shall show us if it was
Thus indeed in time of old?
Fades the image from the glass,
And the fortune is not told.

If you promised, you might grieve
For lost liberty again:
If I promised, I believe
I should fret to break the chain.
Let us be the friends we were,
Nothing more but nothing less:
Many thrive on frugal fare
Who would perish of excess.

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Recordings

Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti Downloads read by Helen Dunmore

1Cousin Kate

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2A Birthday

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3Promises like Pie-Crust

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4When I am dead, my dearest

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5Goblin Market

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6Remember

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