Christina Rossetti Poems

What is Sister Maude about?
Sister Maude describes the death of a loved one caused by the actions of a jealous sister. The poem is ambiguous but hints strongly that jealousy and betrayal led to the death of a sister’s lover. The poem is written from the point of view of the betrayed sister, left alone without her loved one, who was coveted by Maude. The speaker believes that even if she hadn’t been born her dead lover would “never have looked at” Maude, and perhaps this provided motivation for Maude to destroy the lovers’ relationship.

What are the main themes of Sister Maude poem?
Death, Heaven, betrayal/condemnation, romance and reputation

What are quotes for death in Sister Maude?
“cold he lies” “cold as stone” “comeliest corpse” “bide with you death and sin”

What are the quotes for heaven/the after life in Sister Maude?
“spared his soul” “My father may sleep in paradise” “My mother at Heaven-gate” “My father may wear a golden crown” “I knocked at Heaven-gate”

What are the quotes for betrayal/comdemnation in Sister Maude?
“who lurked to spy and peer” “he’d never have looked at you” “but sister Maude shall get no sleep” “bide with you death and sin”

What are the quotes for beauty/ romance in Sister Maude?
“clotted curls about his face” “the comeliest corpse” “worthy of a queen’s embrace”

What is Apple Gatherers about?
A person bitter and jealous narrator who lost her virginity and is now a fallen woman as her lover chose his reputation over her.

What are the themes in Apple Gatherers?
Jealously, Shame, Melancholy, -an allegory of Adam and Eve

What are the quotes for Jealously in Apple Gatherers?
“Plump Gertude passed me with her baskets full” “Lilian and Lilias smiled in trudging by” “their heaped-up baskets teased me like a jeer” “a stronger hand than me hers”

What are the quotes for shame in Apple Gatherers?
“My neighbours mocked me while they saw me pass” “fell fast and loitered still” “I let my neighbours pass me by”

What are the quotes for melancholy in Apple Gatherers?
“I found no apples there” “So once it was with me you stooped to talk” “To think that by this way we used to walk” “let my neighbours pass me”

What is Maude Clare about?
The poem recounts the story of two women, Maude Clare and Nell. They are both in love with the same man, Sir Thomas, who has chosen to marry Nell. On his wedding day, Maude turns up with wedding gifts consisting of the gifts he had presented to her through the course of their unfulfilled courtship. She declares to Nell that she can have what is left of the love Maude and Thomas shared. However, Nell asserts that she loves her husband enough to overlook his past.

What are the main themes in Maude Clare?
Marriage, Courtship, giving up/surrenduring, Rejection

What are the quotes for marriage in Maude Clare?
1. “out of the church she followed them”
2.”his bride was like the village queen”
3. “with smiles, almost with tears”
4. “For he’s my lord for better and worse” “to bless the marriage bed”

What are the quotes for comparison and competition in Maude Clare?
1. “but he was not as pale as you, nor I so pale as Nell”
2. “though you’re taller by the head”
3. “I’ll love him till he loves me best”

What are the quotes for surrendering/giving up in Maude Clare?
1. “here’s my half of the golden chain”
2. “here’s my half of the faded leaves”
3. “I wash my hands thereof”
4. “take my share of a fickle heart”

What are the quotes for rejection in Maude Clare?
1. “he strove to match her scorn with scorn” “inward strife”
2. “”Maude Clare”- and hid his face”
3. “And what you spurn (this means reject), I’ll wear”

What is the imagery and symbolism used in Maude Clare?
1. The heath
2. Marriage
3. Lilies
4. Bloom and the heart

How is the heath symbol used in Maude Clare?
A hearth is the part of a room which holds a fireplace. As a place which provided comfort and sustenance, it was seen to be central to well-being and health.By claiming that she wished to ‘bless’ their hearth (line 19), Maude Clare ironically comments on the negativity her presence brings. Instead of blessing it with warmth, she proposes to bless it with a coldness which is unnecessary and detrimental to the health of the couple. The extent of the coldness of her presence could account for the paleness in the faces of both Thomas and Nell.

How is marriage used as a symbol in Maude Clare?
The marriage-bed – By claiming that she wishes to ‘bless’ their marriage-bed, Maude Clare inserts herself between the intimacy that should exist between Thomas and Nell alone. Instead of them finding the bed a place of rest, Maude’s presence threatens to disturb their sleep, disrupt their love for one another and threaten the well-being of any future children they may have.

How are lilies used as a symbol in Maude Clare?
Lilies – Regarded a symbol of fertility, being used as a wedding flower and are also seen as a symbol of death.The ‘meaning’ of flowers was widely understood by Victorians, so the association between lilies and marriage would not have been missed by Rossetti’s contemporary readers. By reminding Thomas that ‘lilies are budding now’ (line 28), Maude Clare both offers an ironic comment on his marriage to another woman and recalls the hope that she once had regarding getting married herself.

How is bloom and the heart used as symbols in Maude Clare?
Maude hints that the gift she wants to give back is her share of Thomas’ ‘fickle heart’ (line 37). Spoken of ironically as a gift, she presents it more as a burden and a shame she wants to be rid of. Rather than symbolising love, she considers that his heart is a symbol of unfaithfulness and indecisiveness. She hints that his heart will not enable a growth of any sort.

What is Cousin Kate about?
The poem’s female speaker recalls her contentment in her humble surroundings until the local ‘Lord of the Manor’ took her to be his lover. He discarded her when she became pregnant and his affections turned to another village girl, Kate, whom he then married. Although the speaker’s community condemned the speaker as a ‘fallen’ woman, she reflects that her love for the lord was more faithful than Kate’s. She is proud of the son she bore him and is sure that the man is unhappy that he and Kate remain childless.

What are the main themes in Cousin Kate?
Resentment and Marriage

What the quotes for resentment in Cousin Kate?
1.”why did the great lord find me out?”
2. “to lead a shameless shameful life”
3. “he changed me like a glove”
4. “so now I moan an unclean thing”
5. “chose you, and cast me by”
6.”Now which of us has tenderer heart?”
7. “if he had fooled not me but you”
8. “Yet I’ve a gift you have not got”
9. “call you good and pure call me an outcast thing”

What are the quotes for marriage and royalty in Cousin Kate?
1.”and not have taken his hand”
2.”he bound you with his ring”
3.”he lifted you from mean estate to sit with him on high”
4.”To wear his coronet”

What are the themes and imagery used in Cousin Kate?
1. Transience
2. A glove
3. A dove

How is the symbol of transience used in Cousin Kate?
The speaker claims that the lord considered her as a ‘plaything’ (line 12) whom he could treat how he liked without any regard for her feelings. Much like the ‘silken knot’ (line 12) he wore around his neck (a cravat or tie), he treated her as a fashion accessory he could use and then cast away, rather than as an individual with her own needs.

How is the symbol of a glove used in Cousin Kate?
The speaker recognises that the lord ‘changed me like a glove’ (line 13). He used her and moulded her into a shape that suited him and then, like a glove that no longer pleases, dispensed with her completely. A glove is an intimate and personal object that fits itself around its user. By describing herself as a glove, the speaker acknowledges that she lost sight of her own needs and desires in an attempt to please and suit the lord.

How is the symbol of a dove used in Cousin Kate?
The speaker laments that, because of the lord’s treatment of her, all she can now do is ‘moan’. She recognises that instead of existing in this mournful state, she ‘might have been a dove’ (lines 15, 16)
Doves are used in the Bible to represent:
Reconciliation and peace. This arises from the story of Noah.
The Holy Spirit as at the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:16).
In Cousin Kate, the dove image draws on these ideas of hope and fulfilment and is a symbol of purity that stands in direct contrast to the contaminated state the speaker finds herself as she describes herself as ‘an unclean thing’ (line 15). However, she acknowledges that the tenderness associated with the dove is no match for Kate’s ‘stronger wing’.

What is A Royal Princess about?
The poem begins by directly challenging the assumption that riches and privilege entail happiness. For the princess, who has a huge sense of compassion, watching people suffer due to the rule of her father causes her pain. Whilst she is provided with all the riches she could ever want (maid-servants to look after her need, luxuries that come from all around the world), her longing for justice, along with her loneliness and isolation, make her unhappy.