Christina Rossetti's : Song Essay

Words: 1608
Pages: 7

Christina Rossetti’s ‘Song’: Death and grief.

Love and tragic loss are key themes of the Pre-Raphaelite Art and Literature movement, and ‘Song’ combines the two beautifully in a way that neither glorifies nor portrays a detrimental idea of death and the outcomes it brings.

Rossetti uses a variety of natural imagery to beautify the idea of life. She tells the reader to ‘plant no roses at my head’ where the symbol of the ‘rose’ embodies the theme of love, which was key in such a Romantic Era of poetry. Further use of the idea of living nature is used by ‘shady cypress tree’ which defines the idea of death as the branches of such a tree were traditionally carried at funerals in symbol of mourning, yet Rossetti’s orders to the reader
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This shows how Rossetti subverted the romantic poetry ideal, she uses the form but rejects the content.

The symbol of a nightingale was very common in romantic literature, and many poets included it in their works, John Keats for example uses the symbol as beauty and freedom, which compliments Rossetti’s portrayal of the nightingale in ‘Song’. The first stanza tells the reader to ‘sing no sad songs’ for her, and the repeated idea of singing songs of sorrow is in the second stanza ‘I shall not hear the nightingale / sing on, as if in pain’ which creates beautiful imagery that the reader is a nightingale, and she does not want them to feel pain, through grief and song. Complimenting Keats’ portrayal, she wants the reader to be free, and the open-endedness in ‘and if thou wilt remember [...]’ tells the reader that she does not mind if forgotten as long as they are free and content. An alternative interpretation of the ‘Nightingale’ symbol could be of nursing and health, and Florence Nightingale was well-known in the Victorian period for her accomplishments and good deeds, and perhaps Rossetti is telling the reader that she does not want them to be her nurse, she wants them to be free from burden and to be able to live without worrying of her health.

There aren’t any obvious denoted signs of religion in the poem, yet the 14th line (‘the twilight / that