A Poem or a Prayer? 

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) in a chalk drawing by her brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1866.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) in a chalk drawing by her brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1866.

On 27th April the church remembered the Victorian poet Christina Rossetti.

Many of her poems were put to music and added to our Hymnody. The one most people remember is the Christmas carol, In the Bleak Mid-Winter, but we won’t go there so early in the year even though the weather of recent days has called for it! 

Christina was born in 1830 and came from a family of famous artists and writers. Her two brothers William and Dante Gabriel Rossetti were founding members of the art group known as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Many of her poems spring from her deep Christian faith and experience. She wrote a poem entitled  ‘A Better Resurrection’. The poem is intensely personal and speaks of her desire for new life, transformation and becoming useful in the service of Christ. The last verse speaks of a broken cup being melted, re-moulded and transformed. In this Easter season as we contemplate the power of the resurrected Christ to bring new life through the Holy Spirit, may this poem become part of our prayers and experience. 

A Better Resurrection 

I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numbed too much for hopes or fears.
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimmed with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.

My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk:
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall--the sap of spring;
O Jesus, rise in me.

My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perished thing;
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King:
O Jesus, drink of me. 

Christina Rossetti 1830-94

With prayerful best wishes, 

Canon Keith Farrow
Canon missioner