By Dinah Roe
This new research makes a speciality of the significantly overlooked region of Rossetti's devotional poetry and her prose, delivering a severe intervention within the feminist building of a big Victorian lady poet.
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Additional info for Christina Rossetti's Faithful Imagination: The Devotional Poetry and Prose
All Rossetti’s heroine is offered in answer to her prayer is the nightmare vision of the guests in Keats’s poem who dream ‘Of witch, and demon, and large coffin worm’ (‘The Eve of St. Agnes’, 374). What at first appears to be a romantic escape from a solitary life turns out to be an Rossetti’s Keatsian Heritage 39 agony at the hands of nature (the avalanche and shipwreck) and human nature (the war), before a non-interventionist God. The only thing the woman appears to learn is that a life lived outside her lonely walls is worse than a life within.
In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth’. Like Rossetti’s ‘lilies of the field whose bloom is brief’, the grass has a limited lifespan determined by nature, whose ruler is God. The verses from Matthew 6 and Luke 12 also look back to Isaiah 40:6–7: ‘The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass’.
The three poems stand as an example of how different voices, those of the gospels, of nature, and of the poet, can be reconciled by their common interest in the redemptive power of God’s love. Imagination is also brought into play because the ‘considering’ of nature, man, and God occurs internally, in the imagination. The reader does not actually see the poems’ flowers, but only their description in words. The words are translated into vision in the reader’s imagination, where both object and meaning can exist simultaneously, where earthly objects can become divine.
Christina Rossetti's Faithful Imagination: The Devotional Poetry and Prose by Dinah Roe