Monday, March 3, 2008

Christina Rossetti Comparison

In an essay on Christina Rossetti's two poems "A Birthday" and "A Better Resurrection," my student Abigail M. (not to be confused with my daughter Abigail M. who also writes nicely) does some beautiful things. This is her penultimate paragraph, and a great example of a comparison that makes a point. The last phrase really hangs there in our contemplation...

Together these poems present a picture. The heart of a woman leaps up at the return of her lover. But the crowning experience is that of a soul rising from its ashes – a soul saved. However, while Rossetti places her faith in Jesus, in his death and resurrection, she also looks forward to his return. "A Birthday" could easily follow "A Better Resurrection" and become analogous to the return of Christ to his bride, the church – an event calling for all the splendor and celebration Rossetti can imagine. Or perhaps "A Birthday" does come before "A Better Resurrection". Perhaps Rossetti expresses, through this ordering, her ultimate faith and security in Jesus. Men may fail. Many a lover does not return. But Jesus died, rose, lives, and will return. He has, in life, already suffered, and as Rossetti suffers in life, as she feels loneliness, numbness, sickness of soul, she looks to the man who suffered in her place, and she choose[s] to suffer for him, clinging to his name.

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