Old Letters "I looked for which is not, nor can be" (Christina Rossetti) . by Marcus Stone, R. A. (1840-1921). 1865. Oil on canvas. Exhibited at the 1865. Royal Academy, number 619. Collection: The Maas Gallery. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

The painting illustrates Christina Rossetti's “A Pause Of Thought”:

I looked for that which is not, nor can be,
And hope deferred made my heart sick in truth
But years must pass before a hope of youth
Is resigned utterly.

I watched and waited with a steadfast will:
And though the object seemed to flee away
That I so longed for, ever day by day
I watched and waited still.

Sometimes I said: This thing shall be no more;
My expectation wearies and shall cease;
I will resign it now and be at peace:
Yet never gave it o'er.

Sometimes I said: It is an empty name
I long for; to a name why should I give
The peace of all the days I have to live? --
Yet gave it all the same.

Alas, thou foolish one! alike unfit
For healthy joy and salutary pain:
Thou knowest the chase useless, and again
Turnest to follow it.


Pre-Raphaelitism. Exhibition catalogue. London: Maas Gallery, 2013.

Rossetti, Christina. Goblin Market and Other Poems. London and Cambridge: Macmillan, 1865.

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Last modified 5 May 2013