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The Complete Poems (Penguin Classics) Paperback – November 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 1312 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (November 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140423664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140423662
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 2.3 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #409,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894), sister of the poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was educated at home and shared her family's intellectual interests. Ill-health ended her work as a governess and later made her an invalid. Her poetry was first published in 1850 in the Pre-Raphaelite magazine, The Germ, and several volumes of poetry followed, demonstrating an extraordinary emotional and technical range. Betty Sue Flowers is Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

My Dream

Hear now a curious dream I dreamed last night,
Each word whereof is weighed and sifted truth.

I stood beside Euphrates while it swelled
Like overflowing Jordan in its youth:
It waxed and coloured sensibly to sight,
Till out of myriad pregnant waves there welled
Young crocodiles, a gaunt blunt-featured crew,
Fresh-hatched perhaps and daubed with birthday dew.
The rest if I should tell, I fear my friend,
My closest friend would deem the facts untrue;
And therefore it were wisely left untold;
Yet if you will, why, hear it to the end.

Each crocodile was girt with massive gold
And polished stones that with their wearers grew:
But one there was who waxed beyond the rest,
Wore kinglier girdle and a kingly crown,
Whilst crowns and orbs and sceptres starred his breast.
All gleamed compact and green with scale on scale,
But special burnishment adorned his mail
And special terror weighed upon his frown;
His punier brethren quaked before his tail,
Broad as a rafter, potent as a flail.
So he grew lord and master of his kin:
But who shall tell the tale of all their woes?
An execrable appetite arose,
He battened on them, crunched, and sucked them in.
He knew no law, he feared no binding law,
But ground them with inexorable jaw:
The luscious fat distilled upon his chin,
Exuded from his nostrils and his eyes,
While still like hungry death he fed his maw;
Till every minor crocodile being dead
And buried too, himself gorged to the full,
He slept with breath oppressed and unstrung claw.
Oh marvel passing strange which next I saw:
In sleep he dwindled to the common size,
And all the empire faded from his coat.
Then from far off a winged vessel came,
Swift as a swallow, subtle as a flame:
I know not what it bore of freight or host,
But white it was an avenging ghost.
It levelled strong Euphrates in its course;
Supreme yet weightless as an idle mote
It seemed to tame the waters without force
Till not a murmur swelled or billow beat:
Lo, as the purple shadow swept the sands,
The prudent crocodile rose on his feet
And shed appropriate tears and wrung his hands.

What can it mean? you ask. I answer not
For meaning, but myself must echo, What?
And tell it as I saw it on the spot.


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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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It has a short, useful general introduction, and a simple/pleasing paperback layout.
Well Then
This is a comprehensive volume of the work from the greatest woman poet ever to write in the English Language.
Oli
My children and I have enjoyed her poetry in collection volumes for years, and we wanted more.
S. Mercy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By William Timothy Lukeman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After the mysterious, luscious wonders of the acclaimed "Goblin Market," I was eager to sample more of Christina Rossetti's work. Selecting this immense volume of complete poems was a bit of a leap in the dark ... but it was definitely the right choice!

The root of her poetry's lasting power is twofold, I think.

Firstly, there's the undeniable craft & artistry of it. Rossetti possesses the gift of writing melodic, evocative poetry seemingly without effort -- whatever hard work went on behind the scenes, the result on the page is always natural, compelling, and transporting. Even the poems of grief & sorrow have a somber beauty to them, a melancholy loveliness that adorns death without masking it.

Secondly, there's the interplay between Rossetti's Victorian worldview -- a mixture of sentiment, complex piety, and a stark awareness of death -- and the personal psychological forces running below the surface, often sensual & erotic. All too easy for the clashing of these things to produce confusion; but in Rossetti's case, they blend to create a remarkable & very deep wellspring of poetry.

So we have such dreamlike poems as "The Dead City," as well as the many devotional poems -- and all draw upon that same vivid, intense power. Even for the agnostic or atheist, the religious poems often possess a rich & disturbing beauty. And there are many more poems in the same opulent vein as "Goblin Market."

This volume provides brief, informative textual notes that illuminate Rossetti's sources & references. But the poetry itself is not only quite accessible to the reader, it's also as irresistable as the sweet, addictive fruit offered by the sinister goblins. Most highly recommended!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By C.F. MacTavish on January 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My best friend told me about his passion for Christina Rossetti years ago and of course, I filed this tidbit away in my brain and only thought about it back in December when I really needed some inspirational poetry to speak to me. I'm not just discussing her religious poems, I'm discussing her entire works, period. It's very rare that a poet can speak to me like this, and have me copying down her poems for others to enjoy, but that's what I've been doing. Even a simple turn of phrase slays me.

She was so far ahead of her time. Well, her whole family were total geniuses. All I can say is that I am passionately in love with her work. I wish I could have known her.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Oli on November 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a comprehensive volume of the work from the greatest woman poet ever to write in the English Language. It contains all of her poems, properly organised into the correct categories (and a decent index!). It doesn't have any of the prose work like Speaking Likenesses or Face of the Deep, but for her skilled, deep, and beautiful poetry this publication is essential.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. C. W. West on June 13, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rossetti's vast output requires a hefty paperback book. This volume, however, is well put together, and seems physically to bear up under the strain of use. Its editors, Crump and Flowers, have done a masterful job of organizing Rossetti's grab bag into rational classifications. As a composer mining the collection for one or more song cycles, I find this edition a pleasure indeed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Mercy on June 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm enjoying having all of Rossetti's poems in one volume, to read at my leisure. My children and I have enjoyed her poetry in collection volumes for years, and we wanted more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jan Åke Asp on January 14, 2013
Format: Paperback
CG Rossetti is gone but her poetry lives on!
My favourites are the childrens verses such av "Who has seen the wind?"
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