Christina Rossetti: Poems

Recognition

Although Rossetti's popularity in her lifetime did not approach that of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, her standing remained strong after her death. Her popularity faded in the early 20th century, in the wake of Modernism, although scholars began to explore Freudian themes in her work, such as religious and sexual repression, reaching for personal, biographical interpretations of her poetry.[3] In the 1970s academics began to study her work again, looking beyond the lyrical Romantic sweetness to her mastery of prosody and versification. Feminists held her as symbol of constrained female genius, placed as a leader of 19th-century poets.[1][3] Her writings strongly influenced the work of such writers as Ford Madox Ford, Virginia Woolf, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Elizabeth Jennings, and Philip Larkin. Critic Basil de Selincourt stated that she was "all but our greatest woman poet... incomparably our greatest craftswoman... probably in the first twelve of the masters of English verse."[3][23]

Rossetti's Christmas poem "In the Bleak Midwinter" became widely known in the English-speaking world after her death, when set as a Christmas carol first by Gustav Holst, and then by Harold Darke.[24] Her poem "Love Came Down at Christmas" (1885) has also been widely arranged as a carol.[25] Rossetti is honoured with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Anglican Church on 27 April.[21][22][26]

In 1918, John Ireland set eight of her poems from Sing-Song: A Nursery Rhyme Book to music in his song cycle Mother and Child. The title of J.K. Rowling's novel The Cuckoo's Calling is based on a line in Rossetti's poem A Dirge.[27] The poem "Song" was an inspiration for Bear McCreary to write his musical composition When I Am Dead published in 2015.[28] Two of Rossetti's poems, "Where Sunless Rivers Weep" and "Weeping Willow" were set to music by Barbara Arens in her All Beautiful & Splendid Things: 12 + 1 Piano Songs on Poems by Women (2017, Editions Musica Ferrum).

On 1 December 2011, Rossetti was the subject of Radio 4's programme In Our Time.[29].


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