poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

occasions

About this poet

On December 5, 1830, Christina Rossetti was born in London, one of four children of Italian parents. Her father was the poet Gabriele Rossetti; her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti also became a poet and a painter. Rossetti's first poems were written in 1842 and printed in the private press of her grandfather. In 1850, under the pseudonym Ellen Alleyne, she contributed seven poems to the Pre-Raphaelite journal The Germ, which had been founded by her brother William Michael and his friends.

Rossetti is best known for her ballads and her mystic religious lyrics. Her poetry is marked by symbolism and intense feeling. Rossetti's best-known work, Goblin Market and Other Poems, was published in 1862. The collection established Rossetti as a significant voice in Victorian poetry. The Prince's Progress and Other Poems, appeared in 1866 followed by Sing-Song, a collection of verse for children, in 1872 (with illustrations by Arthur Hughes).

By the 1880s, recurrent bouts of Graves' disease, a thyroid disorder, made Rossetti an invalid, and ended her attempts to work as a governess. While the illness restricted her social life, she continued to write poems. Among her later works are A Pageant and Other Poems (1881), and The Face of the Deep (1892). Rossetti also wrote religious prose works, such as Seek and Find (1879), Called To Be Saints (1881) and The Face of the Deep (1892). In 1891, Rossetti developed cancer, of which she died in London on December 29, 1894. Rossetti's brother, William Michael, edited her collected works in 1904, but the Complete Poems were not published before 1979.

Christina Rossetti has been compared to Emily Dickinson but the similarity is more in the choice of spiritual topics than in poetic approach, Rossetti working within the forms established in her time.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Goblin Market, and Other Poems (1862)
Prince's Progress and Other Poems (1866)
Sing-Song: A Nursery-Rhyme Book (1872)
A Pageant and Other Poems (1881)
The Face of the Deep (1892)
Verses (1893)
New Poems (1896)
The Poetical Works of Christina Georgina Rossetti. With Memoir and Notes & Comments. (1904)
Selected Poems (1970)
Complete Poems (1979)
Complete Poems of Christina Rossetti: A Variorum Edition (1986)

Prose

Commonplace and Other Short Stories (1870)
Seek and Find (1879)
Called to be Saints: The Minor Festivals (1881)
Time Flies: A Reading Diary (1888)
Selected Prose of Christina Rossetti (1998)

Letters

Family Letters (1908)
The Family Letters of Christina Georgina Rossetti (1969)
Letters of Christina Rossetti: 1843-1873 (1997)
Letters of Christina Rossetti: 1874-1881 (1999)

A Christmas Carol

Before the paling of the stars,
     Before the winter morn,
Before the earliest cock-crow,
     Jesus Christ was born:
Born in a stable,
     Cradled in a manger,
In the world His hands had made
     Born a stranger.

Priest and King lay fast asleep
     In Jerusalem,
Young and old lay fast asleep
     In crowded Bethlehem:
Saint and Angel, ox and ass,
     Kept a watch together,
Before the Christmas daybreak
     In the winter weather.

Jesus on His Mother’s breast
     In the stable cold,
Spotless Lamb of God was He,
     Shepherd of the fold:
Let us kneel with Mary Maid,
     With Joseph bent and hoary,
With Saint and Angel, ox and ass,
     To hail the King of Glory.

This poem was published in Poems for Children (Educational Publishing Company, 1907). This poem is in the public domain.

This poem was published in Poems for Children (Educational Publishing Company, 1907). This poem is in the public domain.

Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti

Born in 1839 in London, Christina Rossetti, the author of Goblin Market and Other Poems, is a major Victorian Poet.

by this poet

poem
In the bleak mid-winter
   Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
   Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
   Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter 
   Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
   Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
   When He comes to reign:
In the bleak
poem

The Shepherds had an Angel,
The Wise Men had a star,
But what have I, a little child,
     To guide me home from far,
Where glad stars sing together
     And singing angels are?

Those Shepherds through the lonely night
     Sat watching by their sheep,
Until they saw

poem

Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
“Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpeck’d cherries,
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheek’d peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-