Born: December 5, 1830, St. Pancras, London, England.
Died: December 29, 1894, St. Giles, London, England.
Buried: Highgate Cemetery, London, England.
Rossetti came from a well known literary and artistic family. Her father, Gabriele Rossetti, in political exile in England, was a professor of Italian at King’s College in London. Her brothers Dante Gabriel and William Michael were among the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which gave birth to the 19th Century English art movement of the same name.
The Pre-Raphaelites, for whom Christina was a frequent model, also included Edward Burne-Jones, William Holman Hunt, Ford Madox Brown, John Everett Millais, William Morris, John Ruskin and James McNeill Whistler. Her family friends included Charles Dodgson (better known by his pseudonym Lewis Carroll), author of Alice in Wonderland.
Rossetti published three books of poetry (mostly religious), and four books of devotions.
Our feet shall tread upon the stars
Less bright than we.
The everlasting shore shall bound
A fairer sea
Than that which cold
Now glitters in the sun like gold.
Oh good, oh blest! but who shall say
How fair, how fair,
In the light-region where no cloud
Darkens the air,
Where weary eyes
Rest on the green of Paradise?
There cometh not the wind nor rain
Nor sun nor snow:
The Trees of Knowledge and of Life
Bud there and blow,
Their leaves and fruit
Fed from an undecaying root.
There Angels flying to and fro
Are not more white
Than Penitents some while ago,
Now Saints in light:
Once soiled and sad—
Cleansed now and crowned,
Fulfilled and glad.
Now yearning through the perfect rest
Perhaps they gaze
Earthwards upon their best-beloved
In all earth’s ways:
Longing, but not
With pain, as used to be their lot.
The hush of that beatitude
Is ages long,
Sufficing Virgins, Prophets, Saints,
Till the new song
Shall be sent up
From lips which drained the bitter cup.
If but the thought of Paradise
Gives joy on earth,
What shall it be to enter there
Through second birth?
To find once more
Our dearest treasure gone before?
To find the Shepherd of the sheep,
The Lamb once slain,
Who leads His own by living streams—
To thirst, or need
Aught in green pastures where they feed.
But from the altar comes a cry
Awful and strong
From martyred Saints:
How long, they say,
O Lord, how long,
Holy and True,
Shall vengeance for our blood be due?
Then the Lord gives them robes of white,
And bids them stay
In patience till the time be full
For the last day—
The day of dread
When the last sentence shall be said;
When heaven and earth shall flee away,
And the great deep
Shall render up her dead, and earth
Her sons that sleep,
And day of grace
Be hid for ever from Thy face.
Oh hide us, till Thy wrath be past,
Our grief, our shame,
With Peter and with Magdalene,
And him whose name
No record tells
Who by Thy promise with Thee dwells.
Christina Rossetti (1830–1894)