Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Poems & Prose by Rossetti: Review

Christina Rossetti was considered by many of her contemporaries to be Britain's finest living poet.  "Goblin Market" is her most famous poem--a poem that I read repeatedly as I made my way through high school and college English classes.  But I had discovered her long before that...in a small volume of "best-loved poems" found on the shelves of the Wabash Carnegie Library.  I promptly fell in love and then searched in vain for collections of her poetry.....until I discovered this book--Poems & Prose--about three years ago at Borders (before it went away).  

Poems & Prose is billed as containing Rossetti's strongest and most distinctive work: poetry (including "Goblin Market", "The Prince's Progress", and the sonnet sequence "Monna Innominata"), stories (including the complete text of "Maude"), devotional prose, and personal letters.  The collection includes published work as well as that which she withheld from publication.  And the work is presented in chronological order--which gives the reader a chance to see her development as a poet and a writer. 

I do wish that I could say that I was as enchanted with Rossetti's work as I was when I first discovered her.  Unfortunately, I found the longer poems just that--long.  Very long.  Long enough to make me lose interest before the end of most of them.  The sonnet sequence and the shorter works are lovely and the language of the poems quite beautiful.  "Maude" is an interesting short story that is very autobiographical--featuring a young poet and her interactions with contemporaries. The other short stories that I found most interesting were "The Lost Titian," about a missing masterpiece, and "Vanna's Twins," described as a sort of "Babes in the Wood" without the happy ending.  "Vanna's Twins" is a very touching and sad story.  Overall--three and a half stars, rounded to four on GoodReads.

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