About this poet

On December 5, 1830, Christina Rossetti was born in London, one of four children of Italian parents. Her father was the poet Gabriele Rossetti; her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti also became a poet and a painter. Rossetti's first poems were written in 1842 and printed in the private press of her grandfather. In 1850, under the pseudonym Ellen Alleyne, she contributed seven poems to the Pre-Raphaelite journal The Germ, which had been founded by her brother William Michael and his friends.

Rossetti is best known for her ballads and her mystic religious lyrics. Her poetry is marked by symbolism and intense feeling. Rossetti's best-known work, Goblin Market and Other Poems, was published in 1862. The collection established Rossetti as a significant voice in Victorian poetry. The Prince's Progress and Other Poems, appeared in 1866 followed by Sing-Song, a collection of verse for children, in 1872 (with illustrations by Arthur Hughes).

By the 1880s, recurrent bouts of Graves' disease, a thyroid disorder, made Rossetti an invalid, and ended her attempts to work as a governess. While the illness restricted her social life, she continued to write poems. Among her later works are A Pageant and Other Poems (1881), and The Face of the Deep (1892). Rossetti also wrote religious prose works, such as Seek and Find (1879), Called To Be Saints (1881) and The Face of the Deep (1892). In 1891, Rossetti developed cancer, of which she died in London on December 29, 1894. Rossetti's brother, William Michael, edited her collected works in 1904, but the Complete Poems were not published before 1979.

Christina Rossetti has been compared to Emily Dickinson but the similarity is more in the choice of spiritual topics than in poetic approach, Rossetti working within the forms established in her time.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Goblin Market, and Other Poems (1862)
Prince's Progress and Other Poems (1866)
Sing-Song: A Nursery-Rhyme Book (1872)
A Pageant and Other Poems (1881)
The Face of the Deep (1892)
Verses (1893)
New Poems (1896)
The Poetical Works of Christina Georgina Rossetti. With Memoir and Notes & Comments. (1904)
Selected Poems (1970)
Complete Poems (1979)
Complete Poems of Christina Rossetti: A Variorum Edition (1986)

Prose

Commonplace and Other Short Stories (1870)
Seek and Find (1879)
Called to be Saints: The Minor Festivals (1881)
Time Flies: A Reading Diary (1888)
Selected Prose of Christina Rossetti (1998)

Letters

Family Letters (1908)
The Family Letters of Christina Georgina Rossetti (1969)
Letters of Christina Rossetti: 1843-1873 (1997)
Letters of Christina Rossetti: 1874-1881 (1999)

Christmas Day

A baby is a harmless thing
     And wins our hearts with one accord,
And Flower of Babies was their King,
     Jesus Christ our Lord:
Lily of lilies He
Upon His Mother’s knee;
Rose of roses, soon to be
Crowned with thorns on leafless tree.

A lamb is innocent and mild
     And merry on the soft green sod;
And Jesus Christ, the Undefiled,
     Is the Lamb of God:
Only spotless He
Upon His Mother’s knee;
White and ruddy, soon to be
Sacrificed for you and me.

Nay, lamb is not so sweet a word,
     Nor lily half so pure a name;
Another name our hearts hath stirred,
     Kindling them to flame:
“Jesus” certainly
Is music and melody:
Heart with heart in harmony
Carol we and worship we.

This poem was published in Verses (E. & J. B. Young, 1893). This poem is in the public domain.

This poem was published in Verses (E. & J. B. Young, 1893). This poem is in the public domain.

Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti

Born in 1839 in London, Christina Rossetti, the author of Goblin Market and Other Poems, is a major Victorian Poet.

by this poet

poem

‘There’s a footstep coming: look out and see,’
     ‘The leaves are falling, the wind is calling;
No one cometh across the lea.’—

‘There’s a footstep coming: O sister, look.’—
     ‘The ripple flashes, the white foam dashes;
No one cometh across the brook.’—

‘But he

poem

Many have sung of love a root of bane:
       While to my mind a root of balm it is,
    For love at length breeds love; sufficient bliss
For life and death and rising up again.
Surely when light of Heaven makes all things plain,
    Love will grow plain with all its mysteries;
    Nor

poem

I rose at the dead of night,
     And went to the lattice alone
To look for my Mother’s ghost
     Where the ghostly moonlight shone.

My friends had failed one by one,
     Middle-aged, young, and old,
Till the ghosts were warmed to me
     Than my friends that had grown