Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Christina Rossetti

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Christina Rossetti

Article excerpt

My brother died on Easter Day. An unbeliever, but not sane, perhaps, not wholly sane-and therefore God, forever merciful, may take him in; I cling to that much hope . . . He had a poet's and an angel's name: Dante and Gabriel. Our father loved the Comedy so much it drove him mad. He found Masonic laws in every line, and wrote himself half-blind over the work he thought was winning him immortal fame, but nearly starved us all. So brother William, by his dull job with Inland Revenue, maintained us all-Gabriel, Mother, me, and my Maria, sister and best of friends . . . Maria died a nun. A new thing then, Anglican sisterhoods. My brothers laughed but still admired. I wondered and was still. Some said, "You are devout, you never married, why not have joined your sister in her silence and died in ecstasy, as Maria died?" I was not called that way, nor yet to marriage, though I could love, I think, as well as others, but not as Gabriel loved, seeking his soul first in his wife, her unreal mermaid beauty, doomed from the day they met . . . and afterwards, seeking his body in the earth of other women, Eves and Liliths with hair like corn . . . My loves were deep and hidden. I believe my family never knew how much I loved them: Father and Mother, when they both were old and weak and only I was left to tend them; Maria lost in faith, Dante in love and laudanum; the men I might have married and yet refused (for either God or poverty stepped in between us); poetry-my art, my order, with its saving grace of rules, my prison where I sang in chains, my house of feasting where I wept-what can I say of this one place where I could stand alone and feel that pride and glory were not sins? …

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