Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Christina Rossetti - Poet/Poetry Study

One aspect of homeschooling this year is doing a poet and poetry study. Sophia and Olivia listened to six poems by Christina Rossetti and shared some their thoughts about what they heard.

In an ideal world, one poem would be read once a week over a course of six weeks. Then, another poet and six poems would be studied. Given what happened in early-January, we fell a bit behind. So, I read a grouping of poems to try to stay on track with the schedule as best I could.

The six poems I read to the girls, and their reactions to them are below.



Come to me in the silence of the night;
Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
As sunlight on a stream;
Come back in tears,
O memory, hope, love of finished years.

O dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter sweet,
Whose wakening should have been in Paradise,
Where souls brimfull of love abide and meet;
Where thirsting longing eyes
Watch the slow door
That opening, letting in, lets out no more.

Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live
My very life again though cold in death:
Come back to me in dreams, that I may give
Pulse for pulse, breath for breath:
Speak low, lean low
As long ago, my love, how long ago

Sophia thought the poem was depressing and painted a rather "gray mood." The words were sad. She pictured a "gray lake with mist over it" as I read it.

Olivia said it was a sad poem and it sounded "like someone died."

This was the least favorite poem (out of the six poems) for both of the girls.


(from "Sing-Song")

An emerald is as green as grass;
A ruby red as blood;
A sapphire shines as blue as heaven;
A flint lies in the mud.

A diamond is a brilliant stone,
To catch the world's desire;
An opal holds a fiery spark;
But a flint holds fire.

Sophia liked the part about the diamond the best. Olivia said that she liked this poem "because it's about stones, the color, and what they mean. I like the emerald, ruby, and opal the best." Both the girls liked this poem the best out of the six read.



Remember me when I am gone away,
gone far away into the silent land;
when you can no more hold me by the hand,
nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.

Remember me when no more day by day
you tell me of our future that you planned:
only remember me; you understand
it will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while
and afterwards remember, do not grieve:
for if the darkness and corruption leave
a vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
better by far you should forget and smile
than that you should remember and be sad.

Sophia thought it sounded like someone went away - like to Iraq. Although it was still a sad poem, she liked it better than the first one read (Echo). Olivia said that "...it sounded like someone died and went to heaven."

We talked a bit about the last two lines of this poem: "better by far you should forget and smile/than that you should remember and be sad." This is especially relevent given that the girls' grandfather (my dad) died on January 5th.


Who Has Seen the Wind?
(from "Sing-Song")

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling
The wind is passing thro'.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads
The wind is passing by.

Sophia thought the words were nice in this poem. "I think of a breezy day. It would be a good day for sailing a boat," she said. Olivia said, "It's about the wind and weather. It was okay."


Holy Innocents

Sleep, little Baby, sleep;
The holy Angels love thee,
And guard thy bed, and keep
A blessed watch above thee.

No spirit can come near
Nor evil beast to harm thee:
Sleep, Sweet, devoid of fear
Where nothing need alarm thee.

The Love which doth not sleep,
The eternal Arms surround thee:
The Shepherd of the sheep
In perfect love hath found thee.

Sleep through the holy night,
Christ-kept from snare and sorrow,
Until thou wake to light
And love and warmth to-morrow.

Sophia felt the poem had a quiet tone to it "and can put you to sleep." She felt that "a mom would say this to a younger child." Olivia felt like the poem would be a good one "for a baby who just got born" and that a "mother would say this to her baby."


From "The World. Self-Destruction"
O Lord, seek us, O Lord, find us
In Thy patient care;
Be Thy love before, behind us,
round us, everywhere;

Lest the god of this world blind us,
lest he speak us fair;
Lest he forge a chain to bind us,
lest he bait a snare.

Turn not from us, call to mind us,
Find, embrace us, bear;
Be Thy love before, behind us,
round us, everywhere.

Sophia said that the poem sounded like a person "didn't want the stronger or bad forces to get us." Olivia thought that the poem was more religious than the others. She liked the first sentence the best: "O Lord, seek us, O Lord, find us/In Thy patient care."


Having only heard a few poems of Christina Rossetti's in children's poetry books, I was surprised at the diversity of poetry she wrote. According to Selected Poems of Christina Rossetti edited by Marya Zaturenska, these "...poems embody the special qualities of the nineteenth-century poet: her intensely religious feelings and her highly romantic view of love and life.

"Born in England in 1830, Christina Rossetti was the daughter of an Italian exile and a part-English mother." Wikipedia said that she became a poet "...who wrote a variety of romantic, devotional, and children's poems. She is best known for her long poem Goblin Market, her love poem Remember, and for the words of the Christmas carol In the Bleak Midwinter."


Fairy Tale Mama said...

I still remember all of Christina Rossetti's poem The Caterpillar from my daughter reciting it to me over and over. I think my daughter would like the Jewels poem best too. There's something about little girls and gem stones that go together. It must be the sparkle. :-)

David C Brown said...

Always good to see someone having a look at Christina. Grace be with you all.