Spiritual Autobiography in Time Flies: A Reading Diary

  • Dinah Roe


The self-imposed silence of Monna Innominata’s speaker seems to have had the opposite effect on Rossetti. Its publication in A Pageant and Other Poems ushered in a productive period which saw the release of three devotional prose works in five years: Called to be Saints, Letter and Spirit and Time Flies. There is little evidence here of a ‘heart pent up, forlorn’, but rather an intellect at play. Germaine Greer, not an admirer of Rossetti’s devotional work, accuses her of ‘profound and perverse self-absorption’ that caused her ‘to waste her life’, adding that ‘Her assiduity in frittering her time away was unrelenting’.1 But Rossetti’s publishing record is a strong counterargument. Despite frequent periods of convalencence, Rossetti, like Wordsworth, lived and worked beyond all expectations. ‘Frittering her time away’ was anathema to Rossetti, both professionally and spiritually. In fact, the use and abuse of time is one of the leading concerns of her penultimate devotional prose work, Time Flies: A Reading Diary.


Prose Passage Lower Place Anxious Thought Christian Writer Good Poem 
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  1. 1.
    Germaine Greer, Slip-Shod Sibyls: Recognition, Rejection, and the Woman Poet (London: Viking, 1995), p. 369.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Rev. H. W. Burrows, preface to Christina Rossetti, Annus Domini: A Prayer for Each Day of the Year, Founded on a Text of Holy Scripture (Oxford: James Parker, 1874).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Tony Castle, introduction to The Prayers of Christina Rossetti (London: Marshall Pickering, 1989) p. 8. Castle mentions Annus Domini, Seek and Find, and Called to be Saints as ‘the best remembered’ works, p. 10Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    WMR, ‘Prefatory Note’ to Maude: A Story For Girls in Christina Rossetti, Maude: Prose and Verse, ed. with an introduction by R. W. Crump (Hamden: Archon Books, 1976) p. 80.Google Scholar
  5. 12.
    Diane D’Amico, ‘Christina Rossetti’s Christian Year: Comfort for “the weary heart”’, The Victorian Newsletter 72 (fall 1987) 41.Google Scholar

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© Dinah Roe 2007

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  • Dinah Roe

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