Sunset Wings

Having just mentioned this poem in the post La Pia de Tolomei, I found it fitting to choose Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s poem Sunset Wings as the poem of the week. According to this page at the Rossetti Archive, the poems most striking images focus on a flock of starlings that DGR noticed during his sojourn at Kelmscott in 1871 with Jane Morris.

Sunset Wings

To-night this sunset spreads two golden wings
Cleaving the western sky;
Winged too with wind it is, and winnowings
Of birds; as if the day’s last hour in rings
Of strenuous flight must die.

Sun-steeped in fire, the homeward pinions sway
Above the dovecote-tops;
And clouds of starlings, ere they rest with day,
Sink, clamorous like mill-water, at wild play,
By turns in every copse:

Each tree heart-deep the wrangling rout receives,—
Save for the whirr within,
You could not tell the starlings from the leaves;
Then one great puff of wings, and the swarm heaves
Away with all its din.
Even thus Hope’s hours, in ever-eddying flight,
To many a refuge tend;
With the first light she laughed, & the last light
Glows round her still; who natheless in the night
At length must make an end.

And now the mustering rooks innumerable
Together sail and soar,
While for the day’s death, like a tolling knell,
Unto the heart they seem to cry, Farewell,
No more, farewell, no more!

Is Hope not plumed, as ’twere a fiery dart?
Therefore, O dying day,
Even as thou goest must she too depart,
And Sorrow fold such pinions on the heart,
As will not fly away.

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