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What do you do there? None know the choice I made; I make it still. While winter comes and goes — oh tedious comer! A Royal Princess. I, a princess, king-descended, decked with jewels, gilded, drest, Would rather be a peasant with her baby at her breast, For all I shine so like the sun, and am purple like the west. Two and two my guards behind, two and two before, Two and two on either hand, they guard me evermore; Me, poor dove, that must not coo — eagle that must not soar. All my fountains cast up perfumes, all my gardens grow Scented woods and foreign spices, with all flowers in blow That are costly, out of season as the seasons go.

All my walls are lost in mirrors, whereupon I trace Self to right hand, self to left hand, self in every place, Self-same solitary figure, self-same seeking face. O my mother!

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He has quarrelled with his neighbours, he has scourged his foes; Vassal counts and princes follow where his pennon goes, Long-descended valiant lords whom the vulture knows,. On whose track the vulture swoops, when they ride in state To break the strength of armies and topple down the great: Each of these my courteous servant, none of these my mate.

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My father counting up his strength sets down with equal pen So many head of cattle, head of horses, head of men; These for slaughter, these for breeding, with the how and when. Once it came into my heart, and whelmed me like a flood, That these too are men and women, human flesh and blood; Men with hearts and men with souls, though trodden down like mud. I sat beside them sole princess in my exalted place, My ladies and my gentlemen stood by me on the dais: A mirror showed me I look old and haggard in the face;. The singing men and women sang that night as usual, The dancers danced in pairs and sets, but music had a fall, A melancholy windy fall as at a funeral.

Amid the toss of torches to my chamber back we swept; My ladies loosed my golden chain; meantime I could have wept To think of some in galling chains whether they waked or slept. I took my bath of scented milk, delicately waited on, They burned sweet things for my delight, cedar and cinnamon, They lit my shaded silver lamp, and left me there alone.

A day went by, a week went by.

Christina Rossetti Poems

So two whispered by my door, not thinking I could hear, Vulgar naked truth, ungarnished for a royal ear; Fit for cooping in the background, not to stalk so near. A merry jest, a merry laugh, each strolled upon his way; One was my page, a lad I reared and bore with day by day; One was my youngest maid as sweet and white as cream in May.

These passed. The king: stand up. He too left me. Smite and spare not, hand to hand; smite and spare not, hand to hand. There swelled a tumult at the gate, high voices waxing higher; 91 A flash of red reflected light lit the cathedral spire; I heard a cry for faggots, then I heard a yell for fire. Nay, this thing will I do, while my mother tarrieth, I will take my fine spun gold, but not to sew therewith, I will take my gold and gems, and rainbow fan and wreath;. Once to speak before the world, rend bare my heart and show The lesson I have learned which is death, is life, to know.

I, if I perish, perish; in the name of God I go. Shall I Forget? Shall I forget on this side of the grave? O my soul, watch with him and he with me. Shall I forget in peace of Paradise? O my soul, lead the way he walks with me. Vanity of Vanities. Life and Death. Life is not sweet. Life is not good. Bird or Beast? How have Eden flowers blown Squandering their sweet breath Without me to tend them! The Tree of Life was ours, Tree twelvefold-fruited, Most lofty tree that flowers, Most deeply rooted: I chose the tree of death.

Thus she sat weeping, Thus Eve our mother, Where one lay sleeping Slain by his brother. Greatest and least Each piteous beast To hear her voice Forgot his joys And set aside his feast. Only the serpent in the dust Wriggling and crawling, Grinned an evil grin and thrust His tongue out with its fork. Grown and Flown. Nay, love and pain Walk wide apart in diverse ways.

Good-bye, my wayside posy. Somewhere or Other. Made answer to my word. Gone for Ever. Under the Rose. Oh the rose of keenest thorn! One hidden summer morn Under the rose I was born. My Mother pale and mild, Fair as ever was seen, She was but scarce sixteen, Little more than a child, When I was born To work her scorn. With secret bitter throes, In a passion of secret woes, She bore me under the rose.

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So I was sent away That none might spy the truth: And my childhood waxed to youth And I left off childish play. I never cared to play With the village boys and girls; And I think they thought me proud, I found so little to say And kept so from the crowd: But I had the longest curls And I had the largest eyes And my teeth were small like pearls; The girls might flout and scout me, But the boys would hang about me In sheepish mooning wise.

Our one-street village stood A long mile from the town, A mile of windy down And bleak one-sided wood, With not a single house. Our town itself was small, With just the common shops, And throve in its small way.

The Prince's Progress and Other Poems - Wikipedia

I was a little maid When here we came to live From somewhere by the sea. I liked my old home best, But this was pleasant too: So here we made our nest And here I grew. I often sat to wonder Who might my parents be, For I knew of something under My simple-seeming state.

This article possibly contains original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations. Statements consisting only of original research should be removed. June Learn how and when to remove this template message. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, i. The Met Museum. Retrieved Categories : British poetry collections Poetry by Christina Rossetti books Poetry collection stubs. It is almost as if she is blaming him for finding her out.

In a traditional Victorian society, women were expected to forgive and forget, nevertheless, it is clear that the persona has not done either. Moreover, she is non-conformist as she began a sexual relationship before getting married which was seen as decadent in the past. The last few lines tie the poem together, allowing the main source of conflict to be established; between Kate and the persona. She was so infuriated that it had left the persona feeling; shunned, malicious, and vengeful at the end.

However, this concept is explored and presented by many ways by Rossetti in a variety of her poems. This description does generate some sympathy from the reader especially when Rossetti contrasts the despair of the narrator with the beautiful natural imagery of the garden outside. During her lifetime, Rossetti did a lot of work with fallen women, particularly prostitutes, and believed that they should not be treated so harshly. However, the poem can also be interpreted as a portrayal of Eve being removed from the garden of Eden for her sins. Regardless of which interpretation is applied, the narrator is clearly an extremely intriguing figure, as the reader is left to ponder why they have been shut out in this way.

The Victorian era was full of poverty and life for the working class was full of hardships. As the poem suggests, life for women was particularly hard. Seen as inferior to men, they faced large inequalities, in education, employment, political and social opportunities. As previously mentioned, Rossetti did lots of work with struggling women, and this knowledge enhances the reading of this poem as one about wanting to be removed from the hardships of society.

Once again, this narrator is extremely intriguing as an outsider, we are curious to find more about her life and why she has come to feel this way. Maude Clare is a proud fallen women, unashamedly attending the wedding of her former lover. It is likely that Rossetti deliberately contrasts Maude Clare to shut out, to show how she believed fallen women should have the right to behave, against how they are actually treated in society in a way that she believed is wrong. The character of Maude Clare is also on outsider in her treatment of Tom, her former lover.

This is a gender reversal the opposite of what would have been expected to happened in Victorian society. This shares similarities with From the Antique — Louise has chosen to remover herself from a corrupt society that she no longer wants to be a part of, however she has achieved this unlike the narrator in From the Antique who just longs for death to remove her. This makes her even more intriguing, as someone who has chosen to make themselves an outsider by walking away from their previous luxurious life.

She explores the removal of those from society in several different ways, from those who desire to these to those forcibly removed, the reasons for this and the reactions and emotions that follow. The title captures, in essence, the running theme throughout this Rossetti poem, that promises, and perhaps people, are fragile and fleeting. Rossetti structures the poem in an argumentative fashion, acting as a plea to the addressee of the poem. It suggests a sense of wavering in the speaker, who perhaps is not as certain as she seems. On the other hand, it could also be read as the speaker taunting the beloved, implying that he is unable to fully comprehend the speaker,.

The second stanza is further development on the pasts of both the speaker and the beloved.


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Structurally, the first and third line of the stanza is nearly identical with the same rhythm and caesura placement, forming a mutual bond between the speaker and the beloved. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that if they were to enter a relationship with each other in their current states, it would be bound to end in failure. The stanza ends with fading imagery, suggesting the unattainability of their relationship or the unpredictability of the future if they were to involve themselves in one.

Alternatively, the usage of allusion could be representative the speaker clinging too fondly to the past, being unable to describe it in its entirety for fear of dragging old memories back to the surface. The final stanza reintroduces the concept of promises and personal liberty, acting as a continuation of the theme from the first stanza. A reasonable argument is developed by the speaker, taking into account the consequences a relationship would have on the beloved and herself.


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  • Christina Rossetti, selected poems Contents!

It could also, however, be deemed as irrational or overly pessimistic, as the speaker clearly focuses on the negatives of a relationship and has little mention of the positives. However, remained lifelong friends. Conversely, the speaker might be making one desperate, final plea towards the beloved in order to convince him at the frailty of an attempted relationship, or perhaps even to convince herself. The complicated dance between love and friendship is as common now as it was then. Using a direct reference to the narrators heart and connecting that with a song bird can also indicate the idea of opening up inside of a relationship with the heart being the most sensitive part of the body.

Imagery and symbolism

However another view could be that it actually represents her love for god himself making the religious connection all the move important. This numbing suggests that just the feeling of love can overcome death and reflects completely the depth of the love the characters share. Rossetti explores this saddening yet passionate love using such language in the poem linking the connotation of death to the living feeling of love.

The poem was meant to be based upon an actual event that occurred in India during the victorian era and would have appealed to a wide reading audience. This may be why there is the positive spin of love and hope intermixed with the siege of the tower and the imminent deaths of the couple. However, this view can be easy argued against as although Rossetti did have some negative views of men inside of her poetry these views are rarely consistent with some referring to her as a strong christian who believed simply in the way of god, as it would be indicated by good Friday and up-hill.

As it explains that to have a passionate relationship is to throw away any sentiment towards god. This linked with the fact that the narrator is a nun conveys that to be rid of such desire is to be rid of earthly passion; turning to god instead. This poem is believed to be based of the king of Frances lover who ran away and became a nun suggesting why Rossetti reflects negatively on such passionate relationships as she would have been influenced by the story of this woman. On the other hand it can also be argued that this poem shows a fallen woman deploying a woman who fell from the right path and is correcting that by following god, still condemning passionate relationships but also exploring the theme of forgiveness.