Christina Rossetti (1830–1894) captures this bittersweet nostalgia in her 1881 sonnet “I wish I could remember that first
day” through nature imagery. In the 19th century, Rossetti found her voice as the youngest of a family of Italian-English scholars. Surrounded by her accomplished parents and siblings, she rose to fame as one of the Victorian era’s greatest poets.
Here is the “I wish I could remember that first-day” poem:
I wish I could remember that first day,
First hour, first moment of your meeting me,
If bright or dim the season, it might be
Summer or Winter for aught I can say;
So unrecorded did it slip away,
So blind was I to see and to foresee,
So dull to mark the budding of my tree
That would not blossom yet for many a May.
If only I could recollect it, such
A day of days! I let it come and go
As traceless as a thaw of bygone snow;
It seemed to mean so little, meant so much;
If only now I could recall that touch,
First touch of hand in hand – Did one but know!