On "the Hearing Ear": Some Sonnets of the Rossettis (Christina Rossetti) (Critical Essay‪)‬

Victorian Poetry 2009, Fall, 47, 3

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Descrizione dell’editore

These two lines from Christina Rossetti's "An Old-World Thicket" seem to touch on something peculiar to her work, something roundabout, snatching, teasing. There's "music," but it's "not music"; it's "Without" yet "within"; "not music," "yet most musical." The lines disclose as much as they withold, so that reading them is a bit like watching a magician's trick: now you see it (the white rabbit, music), now you don't. We're not sure where the music is, or whether it is music at all. By the time we've finished, our minds are empty--empty, at least, of any object to be named or known. But our ears are full. "Something," whatever it is, suggests a hearing, and makes us listen. Although the grammar scrambles this thing (it is "not" and "yet"), the repetition insists on it: "music," "not music," "most musical." I am reminded of Marianne Moore's comment about poetry in general: "there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle," (2) where "fiddle" puns on three different senses: a cheat, a fidgetting, and the sound of music. "Without, within me, music seemed to be; / Something not music, yet most musical." Such verbal constructions are common in Rossetti. In Sonnet Six from Later Life, for instance, she writes: "Not this, nor that; yet somewhat, certainly" (l. 2), where "somewhat," whatever it is, hovers in the distinctly uncertain twilight between "this" and "that." In "Somewhere or Other," the verbal game of "may be near or far," "may be far or near" (ll. 5, 9), bats its desired object elusively between contrary perspectives. Such playing fast and loose, missing the poetic object by an inch or a mile, is one of this poet's favorite tactics. Christina Rossetti is a master magician, as well as, of course, a master musician.

GENERE
Professionali e tecnici
PUBBLICATO
2009
22 settembre
LINGUA
EN
Inglese
PAGINE
23
EDITORE
West Virginia University Press, University of West Virginia
DIMENSIONE
205,2
KB

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