Apr 10, 2014

POETRY FRIDAY: Celebrating Christina Rossetti and National Poetry Month!

Thank you to Michelle at Today's Little Ditty for hosting Poetry Friday this week!
Be sure to stop by Michelle's fabulous blog and wish her a Happy Blog Birthday! 
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In celebration of National Poetry Month, I am focusing on my favorite poets during April’s Poetry Friday posts. Today, I’m looking at the poetry of Christina Rossetti, a nineteenth century British poet who exemplifies all things Victorian.

Rossetti’s poems have long held my imagination—my favorite (and her most famous) poem is “Goblin Market,” which begins like this:

MORNING and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
"Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpecked cherries-
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheeked peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Crab-apples, dewberries,
Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries--
All ripe together
In summer weather--
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;
Come buy, come buy...
To read the rest of this poem, click here.

It had been awhile since I’d read this entire poem, and reading it again I realized why Rossetti has always been one of my favorite poets—her imagery is exquisite, and she has a sharp, almost edgy manner of telling this particular tale. Those little goblins still creep me out, but I can’t stop reading!

Another favorite Rossetti poem of mine is also one of my favorite Christmas carols. Known to many people today as “In the Bleak Midwinter,” Rossetti’s “A Christmas Carol” is a beautiful poem celebrating the Christmas season and all that it symbolizes:

In the bleak mid-winter
   Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
   Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
   Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
   Long ago.
To read the rest of this poem, click here.

Rossetti also wrote poetry for children! SING-SONG, A NURSERY RHYME BOOK, is a book of children's poetry that Rossetti published in 1893. One of my favorites from this collection is:

If all were rain and never sun,
  No bow could span the hill;
If all were sun and never rain,
  There'd be no rainbow still.

Rossetti has some very serious poems in this collection, as well, exploring issues children commonly faced during the Victorian era. One of the more somber ones is:

A baby's cradle with no baby in it,
  A baby's grave where autumn leaves drop sere;
The sweet soul gathered home to Paradise,
  The body waiting here.
For the complete digital version of this book, click here.

I could continue on about Rossetti, but the best way to truly appreciate her poetry is to pick up a volume and submerge yourself into her world. You will be glad that you did!

Happy National Poetry Month, and Happy Writing!


  1. The one about the cradle without a baby in it, and the grave, is so sad. I remember reading one of her romantic poems many years ago but can't recall the title now. Will have to go search for it.

    1. I was amazed to find the cradle poem in a book of "Nursery Rhymes." But the reality of that time was that many young children didn't make it to adulthood. I think it is interesting that her sadder poems are interspersed in with fun, light poems in that collection!

  2. Each of those poems can spark a story, no, how vividly she writes. I love In the Bleak Midwinter.

  3. Thank you for giving us a taste of Rossetti's world today, Becky. It's certainly vast and absorbing!

  4. The Goblin Market will be in my Directory of Imaginary Poems, Becky! Did you know that her father was a poet and her brother was an artist who used her as a model? What a family!

    1. I know--and I loved how they supported her and encouraged her to write! One of her brothers published some of her writing after she passed away, I believe...I want to say in 1904.

  5. I have quite a few of those inexpensive poetry books that I bought for students, and one student dearly loved The Goblin Market. It is quite a story, of days gone by and the tales that were told. Rossetti's rhythm too is like a song. Thanks for sharing so much of her.

  6. Thanks for the introduction (for me) to Rossetti.

  7. Wonderful examples to show off Rosetti's versatility. I have the same reaction you have to the goblin poem--it creeps me out, but I can't stop reading.

  8. Hello there Becky, what a wonderful sampler of Rossetti's poetry. Such a treat. I can see why you love Goblin Market - the imagery enthralled me too. I definitely would have bought something from there, no matter how filled with enchantment.


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