Christina Rossetti: Poems

Examining the voice of negation in a close reading of "Goblin Market"

Christina Rossetti's poems were viewed as moral pieces, especially in comparison to her brother Dante’s sensual and even sexual poetry. However, Rossetti’s poetry is demonstrative of the Victorian mindset in that, it is not simply dutiful and preaching. Rossetti’s poems, like the Victorians, are full of questions about life…what it means to be a human and what it means to be a woman. Rossetti asked these questions in a way that allowed her poetry to be seen as simple and moral, if deceptively so.

Excerpt Scansion

“White and golden Lizzie stood, '-'-'-'

Like a lily in a flood,-- '-'-'-'

Like a rock of blue-veined stone '-'-'-'

Lashed by tides obstreperously,--” '-'-'---

(Goblin Market 408-411)

In these four lines from Goblin Market Rossetti is using her characteristic manner of seeming to say something very simple while implying much more.

First, let us look at these four lines from a technical standpoint. The first three lines contain seven syllables, four of them stressed with three interspersed unstressed syllables. The regularity of the rhythm, combined with the soft, lulling repetition of the 'L' sounds (in “Lizzie”, “like”, “lily”, and “lashed”), create a...

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