The Poetry of Rossetti (Christina)

by Christina Rossetti

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How is the conflict between the physical world and the spiritual world explored in the poetry of Rossetti?

Christina Rossetti explores the conflict between the physical world and the spiritual world by showing how the temptations of the physical world are a detriment for those interested in the promises of the spiritual world. For Rossetti, the physical world has treats and treasures to distract and lure people away from spiritual aims and fulfillment.

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Christina Rossetti didn't believe that people could understand the spiritual world in the physical world, but she also didn't believe that the two were completely separate. In her theological writing, she said that "visible things typify things invisible" and that "things temporal [suggest] things eternal." The poet believed that signs of the spiritual world were found on earth, as long as one was willing to look. That doesn't mean that it was completely possible to classify and understand them—at least, not until a person died and was able to experience the spiritual world.

This attitude and these beliefs are evident in much of Rossetti's poetry. She also shows her belief that doing the right thing in the physical world will pay off in the spiritual world. For example, in "The World," Rossetti talks about how the world is enticing and alluring but is also trying to tempt people with earthly pleasures to woo them away from their pursuit of more spiritual aims. To truly understand and devote oneself to the spiritual world, a person has to be willing to reject the temptations of the physical world.

In poems like "At Home," she shows how attached people are to the physical world. A young woman who has died goes to visit friends and believes she'll find them in mourning. Instead, they're celebrating the present and the future. They aren't looking to the past or thinking of more spiritual things. The physical world lures people in, traps them, and prevents them from following higher callings or beliefs.

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