‘Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Christina Rossetti is one of the most frequently anthologised of 19th-century poets, her poems read at services and sung as hymns and carols. She is sometimes thought of as a fragile, pious invalid, an ‘angel in the house’ whose poems dwell on heaven and death, but further reading reveals a vital and exuberant poetic gift that influenced writers like Emily Dickinson and Virginia Woolf. This Folio Society edition brings together a selection of her finest verse.
First published in 1862, ‘Goblin Market’ is an extended poem about two young sisters who hear goblin merchants hawking their wares. Lizzie urges caution (‘Their offers should not charm us,/Their evil gifts would harm us’) but Laura eats the forbidden fruit and falls into a frenzy, then a decline from which her sister must save her. Considered shocking in its day, it is one of the most beguiling ‘fairy tales’ in the language. Other famous works include ‘A Christmas Carol’, set to music by both Gustav Holst and Harold Darke, ‘Remember’ and ‘Song[When I am dead, my dearest]’. Her love poems, such as ‘A Birthday’ (‘My heart is like a singing bird/Whose nest is in a watered shoot’) and ‘I wish I could remember that first day’, are also here. Many of Rossetti’s verses express a delight in the natural world, such as ‘Winter: My Secret’ and ‘What is pink? a rose is pink’. Others, like ‘The Queen of Hearts’, tease the reader with hidden meanings. As author Kathryn Hughes puts it in her introduction, ‘For every piece of verse that speaks of darkness, winter and death there is one that bubbles over with light, warmth and youthful energy.’ This Folio Society edition contains illustrations by Jillian Tamaki, which are by turns colourful, sensual and mysterious.
Review by anon on 29th Mar 2012
"This book took my breath away when I received it. The illustrations are beautiful, the production quality of the book is terrific, and it is now one of my favorite Folio Society purchases. I highly r..." [read more]