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A little about Christina Rossetti

30 Torrington Square, Bloomsbury, London

 
30 Torrington Square, Bloomsbury, London, Christina Rossetti's last home  

Christina Rossetti's last home

 

Victorian poet Christina Rossetti (1830-94), born into a highly literary and artistic family, was the sister of painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82). She wrote a great deal of verse, mainly religious poems and love poems, but also a delightful collection of poems for children called Sing-Song. She began writing poetry before she was 12 and her grandfather privately published a collection of her poems in 1847 when she was 16. It was not, however, until she was 31 that she received the recognition she deserved with the publication of Goblin Market and Other Poems in 1862. There followed further publications of verse and prose until 1893, the year before her death, by which time she was recognised as a great devotional and lyric poet and the best English woman poet of her time. Her stature has been unequalled since.

 

Regents Park

  Regents Park, where Christina sometimes walked, and was inspired.
 

Where Christina sometimes walked, and was inspired.

 

Some of Christina Rossetti’s poems are widely known: Love poems such as ‘When I am dead, my dearest’ (Song), ‘Remember me when I am gone away’ (Remember), ‘My heart is like a singing bird’ (A Birthday); Religious poems such as ‘Does the road wind up-hill all the way?’ (Up-hill) and ‘In the bleak midwinter’ (A Christmas Carol); and fairy tale narrative poem Goblin Market.  Much equally good poetry is less well known, if at all, by the general reading public.

She never married but came close twice and these experiences, together with her strong faith, frequently tested, and her battles with ill health, informed and fed her creative powers.

 

What others have said about Christina Rossetti and her work.

‘The most valuable poet that the Victorian age produced.’ Ford Madox Ford.

‘A large proportion of Christina Rossetti’s poems … and nearly all her best poems are, as we say, in a ‘minor key’ but what major key is lovelier in effect?’ Walter de la Mare.

‘Your instinct [Christina] was so sure, so direct, so intense that it produced poems that sing like music in one’s ears - like a melody by Mozart or an air by Gluck … A firm hand pruned your lines; a sharp ear tested their music. Nothing soft, otiose, irrelevant cumbered your pages. In a word, you were an artist.’ Virginia Woolf.

‘Only in her poems will you find Christina Rossetti’s own voice speaking out loud and clear. She can be passionate, contradictory and fearless. She can be witty and sharp-tongued, gentle and contemplative. Her tone is often unexpected, and, even when she deals with religious matters, is unpredictable, sometimes daring.’ Frances Thomas (From the Foreword)

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Almost Paradise: ISBN 0-9546139-0-2  292 pp    All material © Andrew Rice-Oxley 2004.