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  1. #1
    Dominik Stodolny is offline Newbie
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    Default A phrase from Christina Rossetti's poem

    Hello,

    No matter how hard I try I just can't understand a phrase from Christina Rossetti's poem titled "A Dirge". The phrase goes like this:

    "Or, at least, when lithe swallows muster"

    Looking at it I can see a word which appears to be a noun "lithe" (sth swallows sth). But in the dictionary the word lithe is an adjective which completely ruin my perception.

    I will be very glad if someone could just paraphrase this sentece.

    Thanks,
    Dominik

  2. #2
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    Grumpy is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: A phrase from Christina Rossetti's poem

    Why were you born when the snow was falling?
    You should have come to the cuckoo’s calling,
    Or when grapes are green in the cluster,
    Or, at least, when lithe swallows muster
    For their far off flying
    From summer dying.


    As you can see from the full context, the writer is lamenting that the subject of the poem was born in the Winter, and not in the Spring [ the cuckoo’s calling], the Summer [ when grapes are green in the cluster], or the Autumn [ when lithe swallows muster]. Swallows are small birds which gather together [ie "muster"] in the Autumn in the UK, before flying back to Africa for the Winter. The adjective "lithe" is used to describe them as thin, supple, and graceful.
    I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....

  3. #3
    sb70012 is offline Banned
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    Default Re: A phrase from Christina Rossetti's poem

    Hello Dominik,

    when lithe swallows muster = when graceful birds move together

  4. #4
    Dominik Stodolny is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: A phrase from Christina Rossetti's poem

    Grumpy, sb70012 thank you so much! It is such a relief understanding it!

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