The sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Christina Rossetti began writing poetry in her early teens. Her verse, always simple, pure, direct, never lost some of the childlike and direct quality evident in her earliest work. Indeed, she later wrote a nursery rhyme book (SING SONG), full of pleasant and sharp little rhymes for children. She even included a rhymed alphabet, containing six or eight onomatopoetic references for each letter. Her skill and facility in light verse can be seen in the lines like the following from “An Alphabet”:
K is a King, or a Kaiser still higher;K is a Kitten, or quaint Kangaroo.L is a Lute or a lovely-toned LyreL is a Lily all laden with dew.
Her deftness in children’s verse and in slight lyrics lasted throughout her poetic career.
Christina Rossetti is, however, far more frequently remembered for her religious or devotional poetry. Living in partial seclusion with her family (primarily with her mother until the latter’s death in 1886), Christina Rossetti saw little of the London around her but lived intensely within her own private world of religious contemplation and meditation. Her poetry, the product of inward contemplation rather than a weapon for a public cause like that of the...
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