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Christina Georgina Rossetti is an unforgettable name. I used to memorize her poems for my English exams while I was in the middle school level. Undoubtedly, she’s one of my all time favorites. She was anEnglish poet born on 5 December 1830, at London, England. She belongs to the Pre-Raphaelite literary movement.
Her parents were Gabriele Rossetti, a poet and a political exile from Vasto, Abruzzo, Italy, since 1824 and Frances Polidori, the sister of Lord Byron’s friend and physician John William Polidori. She was the youngest of their four children. Her brothers were Dante Gabriel, an influential artist, and William Michael, and sister Maria ( both writers). Her parents taught her at home through religious works, classics, fairy tales and novel. Young Christina was a genius. She started dictating her first story to her mother before she even learned to write. She was inspired by Keats, Scott, Ann Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis. Italian scholars, artists and revolutionaries visited their house.
Rosetti’s family situation worsened after they started experiencing financial problems due to her father’s deteriorating physical and mental health condition in 1840. Her father suffered from bronchitis, a possible tuberculosis, and faced losing his sight in 1843. He quit teaching at King’s College and had severe bouts of depression. Rosetti’s mother took up the responsibility of earning by way of teaching, Her sister, Maria, got a job as a live-in governess. Her brother, William, started working at Excise Office while Dante Gabriel got a job at an art school. Loneliness drove Rosetti to a nervous breakdown, depression, and other health problems, which made her quit school at the age of 14. She, her mother and her sister became involved in the Anglo-Catholic movement that developed in the Church of England.
During her late teens, she got engaged to the painter James Collinson who called off the engagement in 1850 after turning to Catholicism. She helped her mother to run a school in Fromefield, Frome in 1853. Their school failed and they returned to London in 1854 where Rosetti’s father died. She had two more suitors whom she turned down. Later, she started modeling for her artist brother, Dante Gabriel. She posed for him while he made his first oil painting ‘The Girlhood of Mary Virgin’, and the first work he inscribed with the initials “PRB”, later revealed as standing for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. This was followed by the Annunciation, Ecce Ancilla Domini. She inspired the painting by Fernand Khnopff called I lock my door upon myself with a line from her poem ‘ Who shall deliver me?’
She experienced severe depression in 1849 and went through a religious crisis in 1857. She died on 29 December 1894 (aged 64) atLondon, England. She continues to remain immortal in the hearts of her admirers through her wonderful poems.
Her published work :
Verses, London: privately printed, 1847
Goblin Market and Other Poems, London: Macmillan, 1862
1876, author’s revised edition
The Prince’s Progress and Other Poems, London :1866
Goblin Market, The Prince’s Progress, and Other Poems. London: 1879
Sing-Song: A Nursery Rhyme Book (1872, 1893)
A Pageant and Other Poems (1881)
Verses, London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1893
New Poems, London: 1896
The Rossetti Birthday Book, London: privately printed, 1896
The Poetical Works of Christina Georgina Rossetti, ed. William Michael Rossetti, London: Macmillan, 1904
The Complete Poems of Christina Rossetti, ed. Rebecca W. Crump with publication notes, in three volumes, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979–1985
When I am Dead my Dearest
Commonplace and Other Stories, London: 1870
Speaking Likenesses, London: 1874
Called to Be Saints, London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1881
“Dante, an English Classic”, Churchman’s Shilling Magazine and Family Treasury 2 (1867), pp. 200–205
Dante: The Poet Illustrated out of the Poem”. The Century (February 1884), pp. 566–573
The Face of the Deep, London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1893
Seek and Find: A Double Series of Short Studies of the Benedicite, London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1879
Time Flies: A Reading Diary, London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1885
Her poems that I love:
I just loved the way she compared Mother Nature’s creations with those made by man and how she finds clouds sailing in the sky more pretty than the boats and ships sailing on the rivers and seas.
She also compares bridges built over the rivers with the gorgeous rainbow acting as a bridge between the sky and the earth. A rainbow is much more prettier than the man made bridge. I definitely agree with her. What a lovely poem!
The poet says that no one has seen the wind but we can experience it’s presence when the hanging leaves show movement as if they are trembling. It means the wind is passing through them. She has also quoted an example of trees swaying as if bowing down, indicating the blowing of wind.
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