Three main topics, life, death and love link all Christina Rossetti’s well-known poems. Each of her poems contains one or more of these themes. In this essay I have used the following poems “Life and Death”, “Up-hill” and “One day”. I believe that “Life and Death” reflects Rossetti’s views on life, as she quotes “”life is not sweet”. The use of a caesura in the first line to create a pause should make the reader reflect on their life. Then she continues “one day it will be sweet” this means that while we may believe that we are happy with our material possessions we still have to endure hardships. When we enter heaven life will be sweet, I believe the caesura signifies the transition from life on earth to heaven.
The next stansa uses the repetition of the word “Nor” to emphasise what we will not have after we die “Nor feel the wild flowers blow”. The use of a metaphor “… the grass grow long above our heads and feet.” This indicates that the only way grass can grow above our heads and feet is when we die and are buried. Rossetti tells us that yes, we will miss hearing the happy lark and the waxing wheat. The alliteration draws our attention to the fact that we won’t see the harvest being reaped, but we will also not have to suffer the hardships of life.
The next stansa begins with her statement of “Life is not good. But one day it will be good” this reflects once again her views on life after death which were that one had to struggle and face hardship to achieve eternal life. The poem is constructed of an irregular rhyme scheme; the first verse concerns itself with all the good memories of life and what we will miss when we die. “… The happy lark that soars high”, yet when we do die, there are objects and feelings that we will not miss such as “shrunk leaves dropping from the wood.” “Asleep from risk, asleep from pain.”
Another of Rossetti’s poems that I have analysed is “Up-hill”. I believe that this poem is using Christina Rossetti’s impression on life. The entire poem is written in a question and answer format. The poem has a regular rhyme scheme of “A and B” which could emphasise that there is a question being asked and there is always comforts be from the answers. The rhyme scheme could also reflect that in life there is no turning back after regretting what one has done which is also reflected in the singular rhyme scheme. In the first line “Up-hill reflects that life is an uphill struggle and the winding signifies that we can not see what will happen to us in our later life.
The phrase “the whole long day” is a reflection or an image of our lives; our lives are long and full of toil until we die! The line “from morn to night” is imagery because it gives us an image of when of the sun rises when we are born until the sun sets and we die. Christina Rossetti has used the word “that door” instead of “the door” because it means it is a specific door and there is no other like it. The final verse has a repetition of “all” to show that everyone that comes to heaven, without exception will be granted entrance and have their own place.
I believe the poem “One day” reflects there is a topic of love, but also has a tenuous link with death. The poem is composed of three verses; each is a representation of the stages of life. The first verse is an image of spring comparing the beginning of our lives with the “limped days of spring” I believe, the irregular rhyme scheme can be a representation to our own lives as we don’t know what will happen in the future so, it is irregular. The first verse deals explicitly with the topic of spring “Elder boughs were budding yet” and the beginning of now life when the couple meets. The next verse talks about autumn when one passes passes away “Then they parted” the use of an alliteration such as “heavy hearted” shows that they were not yet ready to part. The second verse contains a metaphor “lost a crown” to signify that they were king and queen the only people that wear crowns are royalty and if a king or queen dies they don’t remarry which the imagery confirms.
Finally the last verse is about heaven. It says it is a paradise. All of this shows that Christina Rossetti thinks that people on earth “wait in pain”, but heaven is a paradise. Life, death and love link all of the poems I have selected. I believe that some of the poems have been influenced by the events of Rossetti’s life her thoughts on the afterlife, the harder life is the easier it is to enter heaven. The differences between the three poems are that only “Up-hill” has a regular rhyme scheme, which could be linked to the title and the question, answer format. In comparison “Life and Death” and “One day” have irregular rhyme schemes. I speculate that this could be because life is not regular and can change as a result of our actions.