The Rossetti family of 19th century, central London, became a distinguished bunch of people, dedicated to their talents of Art and Literature.
The family house in Bloomsbury was filled with the old master influences of Petrarch and Dante Aligheri, as well as the visiting presence of Italian scholars, artists and revolutionaries.
Let’s be briefly introduced…
Father of the family, Gabriele Rossetti was a poet and political exile from Vasto, Abruzzo, Italy.
Mother of the family was Frances Polidori, the sister of John William who was friend and physician to Lord Byron. John was also an enthusiastic writer; the first to create the idea of a blood-sucking-vampire, whose gentlemanly breeding, manners, and sophistication were based on Byron.
Son, William and daughter, Maria both became writers.
Son, Dante Gabriel Rossetti (and William too) was co-founder of the artistic group, The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood; he was an influential artist and poet.
And finally Christina Rossetti, the youngest child, was an intelligent and creative poet; with a mix of her own troubles and experiences, she channelled her ideas into poetry and prose.
Today I wish to announce that it is she, Christina, who shall wear the rosette for writing some of the most beautiful, imaginative and evocative lines in the English language. She followed in the steps of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning as the main female poet of her time (1860s) and was highly regarded and much appreciated by the critics of this male-dominated society.
At some point in your life, in some way and maybe without realising it, you will come across a Rossetti.
Raise me a dais of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in silver gold and grapes,
In leaves and in silver fleur-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.
Second and final verse from ‘A Birthday’ by Christina Rossetti.
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