‘A Courteous Tilt in the Strong-Minded Woman Lists’: Rossetti, St. Paul, and Women

  • Dinah Roe


One of the most distinguishing marks of Rossetti’s authorial maturity is her increasing awareness of her audience. The layout of her early volumes encouraged readers to make connections between devotional and general poems, but it is in the works of middle age that Rossetti’s sense of her readership starts to appear as part of the text itself. In Monna Innominata, for example, the responsibilities of the poet to her muse and her God animate the conventional narrative of its love story. God is watching in nearly all of Rossetti’s poems, but the later works are increasingly conscious of our gaze as well. Occasionally, and startingly, Rossetti stares right back at us, as in the following entry for 4 December in the devotional prose work, Time Flies:


Jewish Woman Emphasis Mine Christian Woman Divine Love Intellectual Result 
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  1. 2.
    Gosse, Edmund, “Christina Rossetti”, The Century Magazine 46 (June 1893) 214.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Angela Leighton, Victorian Women Poets: Writing Against the Heart (London: Harvester, 1992), p. 135.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    John Milton, Selected Prose, ed. C. A. Patrides (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1974), 213.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    See Diane D’Amico, ‘Christina Rossetti’s “Helpmeet”’, The Victorian Newsletter (spring 1994) 25–8; and Chapter 5 of Faith, Gender and Time.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    Sandra M Gilbert and Susan Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979), p. 575.Google Scholar
  6. 16.
    Georgina Battiscombe, Christina Rossetti: A Divided Life (London: Constable, 1981), p. 183.Google Scholar
  7. 29.
    Cynthia Scheinberg, ‘“Measure to yourself a prophet’s place”: Biblical Heroines, Jewish Difference and Women’s Poetry’, in Women’s Poetry, Late Romantic to Late Victorian: Gender and Genre, 1830–1900, eds. Isobel Armstrong and Virginia Blain (London: Macmillan, 1999), 265.Google Scholar

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© Dinah Roe 2007

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  • Dinah Roe

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