You have been mine before

My sister and brother-in-law have their anniversary today. This poem, DG Rossetti's 'Sudden Light' was, I think, printed on their invitations, or perhaps their orders of service; I can't remember now, but I do remember liking it immensely. Besides a beguiling play of rhythm and rhyme, it has that Victorian yen for love beyond death, and light in a dark place.  Happy anniversary, Alex and Beth.

I have been here before,     
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door, 
The sweet keen smell, 
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.

You have been mine before,
How long ago I may not know: 
But just when at that swallow's soar 
Your neck turned so, 
Some veil did fall,—I knew it all of yore.

Has this been thus before? 
And shall not thus time's eddying flight 
Still with our lives our love restore 
In death's despite, 
And day and night yield one delight once more?

Poetry is...

...indefinable. The prolific attempts to define it probably tell us more about its nature than any one definition. Nevertheless, there are some great lines trying to fill in this preeminent blank. Here’s a goodly number of them. The list doesn't include Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s line from the first in the House of Life sonnet sequence: “A sonnet is a moment's monument.” That to me is as good a definition as any.

Indefinability, though, is a palpable quality, not the absence of a quality. Saying we don't know the nature of something is not the same as saying it has no nature. American poet Marianne Moore, admired by TS Eliot, said “I see no reason for calling my work poetry except that there is no other category in which to put it.” Poetry shouldn't be a basket into which anything indefinable can go. The same applies to art. Art is not that which falls short of reality but that which goes beyond it.