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Featured Poem: Promises Like Pie-Crust by Christina Rossetti

Written by Chris Routledge, 21st September 2009

Chosen by Devi Forsythe, Get Into Reading group facilitator

I used this poem when reading Bruce Chatwin’s On the Black Hill. The courtship between Amos Jones and Mary is tender and  steeped with emotion and this poem highlights their meeting point.

Everyone in my group enjoyed it and one lady commented (without  any regret) that promises like pie-crusts are easily broken - she was speaking from her own chequered life which I thought was very poignant.  Someone else commented that it is the pie-crust that keeps the content (pie) intact and once that is broken the pie is exposed, vulnerable, ashamed, decaying and drying up.

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.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

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