Welcome to a new feature I’m trying out called Feminist Fridays, a weekly(wish) celebration of feminist texts, writers, and ideas. Studying English literature has made me realize how easy it is to get caught up in the male-dominated Western canon and completely miss the amazing work done by brilliant women over the years. Today I’ll be discussing Christina Rossetti, a Victorian poet who fought back against the sexist poetic tradition of the time.
Christina Rossetti (1830-94) was a British Pre-Raphaelite poet who was born and passed away in London, England. She was highly educated in classics at home and was largely influenced by Petrarch and the Italian poetic tradition, which is particularly clear in her sonnets. Although she had several relationships and proposals over her lifetime, she never actually married. Her three siblings all became successful writers as well, yet she is most associated with her brother Dante Gabriel (DG) Rossetti, a famous poet and painter.
One of Christina’s most remarkable poems is “Goblin Market,” published in the collection Goblin Market and Other Poems in 1862. Although sometimes viewed as a fantastical poem for children, “Goblin Market” is actually about the brutal rape of sisters Laura and Lizzie by bestial “goblin men.” Although Laura gives into temptation and becomes a “fallen woman” by sucking on the goblins’ fruit, Lizzie ultimately comes to her sister’s rescue by valiantly resisting their forced feeding.
“Lie close,” Laura said,Pricking up her golden head:“We must not look at goblin men,We must not buy their fruits:Who knows upon what soil they fedTheir hungry thirsty roots?”“Come buy,” call the goblinsHobbling down the glen.
Have you read anything by Christina Rossetti before? What do you think of this new feature? Any suggestions for another week’s topic? Let me know in the comments section below!