Emma Mason’s new critical study of Christina Rossetti’s poetry and prose is the latest in the Oxford University Press’s series Spiritual Lives.
Mason looks closely at her “contribution to emergent environmentalism”, reading Rossetti as a poet who “gentles” her audience into finding Grace through a recognition of the “kinness of nature”. Her poems of swans and stars, lilies and rainbows are reinterpreted in the light of Rossetti’s Tractarian faith.
Keble, Pusey, and Newman all privileged poetry as an art that could conjure the “world out of sight”, and represent the intercommunion of all Creation. The notion of “reserve”, within the Tractarian tradition — the unfolding of divine truth gradually, delightfully — seems particularly relevant with Rossetti. She exemplifies Keble’s ideal, crafting poetry at once “fervent yet sober, . . . neither wild and passionate, nor light and airy.”
Mason also highlights Rossetti’s family connections with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which her brother Gabriel’s described as an “Art-Catholic”.
@Marmeladrome Christina Rossetti worshipped at Christ Church, Albany Street which has Seraphim and Cherubim around the apse over the altar. It also has a stone water trough outside the church which froze every winter. The church is located between Camden rich, poor & military pic.twitter.com/Hp5IS8p6KI
— Stephen J. Robin (@stephenjrobin) December 13, 2018