herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

It will be 120 years in December since Christina Rossetti's death. Any film about the Pre-Raphaelites without Christina Rossetti (right) is like writing about the Irish Literary Renaissance and leaving out Lady Gregory.

Christina Rossetti 1830-1894

It will be 120 years in December since Christina Rossetti's death. Any film about the Pre-Raphaelites without Christina Rossetti (right) is like writing about the Irish Literary Renaissance and leaving out Lady Gregory.

Christina Rossetti was a natural poet. Everything she wrote had a sparkling singing undertone. But she tied herself in knots with the religious controversies of the Victorian era. Battles almost as fierce as those fought in the Crimea or India were being enacted back home between two sections of the Church of England, High and Low church.

Christina's views were ultra-High, which meant she was in favour of crucifixes on the altar as well as candles and incense.

As she was very beautiful she had many suitors, but God help them if they didn't share her view on High church ritual, and in the end she never married. She certainly wasn't a prig.

In fact, she founded a home where prostitutes could come when they were looking for an escape from the street. Christina's brother, the poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was one of the founders of the pre-Raphaelite movement.

Laurels

But at her best, Christina had the edge over him and, had she written more, might have made Tennyson look to his laurels.

Her later years were sad, for the onset of Graves' disease altered her fine looks and she didn't have to worry about the religion of her suitors because, sadly, they arrived no more.

She was modest enough to give the lovely poem here, which is almost perfect, the simple name of Song.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News