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Christina Rossetti - Poet & Theologian

I imagine the name Christina Rossetti doesn't ring a bell to most of you. But you might know of her work; most well-known of her poems is the Christmas carol "In the Bleak Midwinter" (I'm a huge fan of Sarah McLachlan's version). She also wrote a poem called "Goblin Market" and one entitled "Who Has Seen the Wind?" and many, many others.

She is one of the most well-known female poets out of England, up there with Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

And alongside her poetry, she wrote devotional and theological works. (What a delight to find a new kindred spirit!)

Tonight, I am reading her rather obscure Letters and Spirit: Notes on the Commandments (not even listed on Wikipedia!) as the focus of my final paper for last semester's class on Women Interpreters of the Bible. Yes, last semester... my prof suggested I take an extension, what with the wedding and all - and while I was reluctant, it did make a whole lot of sense and relieve a whole lot of stress (for the time being).

So now I'm tackling the reading and the paper, and let me tell you. I like this lady a WHOLE LOT.

Although she wrote in the late 1800s, many of her words and admonitions are quite applicable today. Take this, for example, on generosity and justice:
Even unselfish persons, if they permit themselves to be generous at the cost of justice, substitute the kind of luxury they relish for another kind which they care not for: generosity is their luxury; yet if incompatible with justice it must be forgone...
 And speaking of the personified ideal, she continues,
If ever the balance trembles doubtfully between gift and thrift, her glad preference weights the scale of gift an sends thrift flying upwards. 

I should like to be known as such a person.

Here's another, on truth and falsehood:
False witness, even in a strict sense, may moreover be borne by conduct or silence as emphatically as by words. All men at all moments cannot but be witnesses for or against the Right...and they are so to the inevitable and incalculable help or hindrance of their neighbour. 

 Ah, that doesn't give us much space to manoeuvre around the injunction against falsehood and lies, does it? Thankfully so.


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