'A Better Resurrection' - Synopsis and commentary


The speaker draws attention to her life which she considers short and insubstantial. She looks forward to a time when she can happily give up her present, worldly concerns and instead enjoy an existence in eternity.

Investigating the synopsis

  • According to the New Testament letter to the Hebrews, ‘faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see' (Hebrews 11:1). What comments, if any, do you think A Better Resurrection makes about faith?
    • What comments do you think that the poem makes about hope?


Rossetti composed A Better Resurrection in 1857 and published it in her first collection of poetry, Goblin Market and Other Poems, in 1862.


The term resurrection means rising to life again. In the Bible it is specifically applied to Jesus Christ's coming to life after his crucifixion; and from there, to the hope of all Christians that after death, they will be raised to a new life in heaven.

The title, A Better Resurrection, is taken from a chapter in a New Testament letter which reflects on the faith and suffering of believers in the Old Testament, Hebrews 11:35:

Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. TNIV


More on Hebrews 11:

  • Hebrews 11 focuses on the faith of the righteous men and women of the Old Testament who longed for ‘a better country' (Hebrews 11:16)
  • There are examples in the Bible of women who ‘received their dead raised to life again'. These include the widow at Zerephath (1 Kings 17:17-24) and the Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4:8-36)
  • The reference to those refusing to escape from persecution so as to ‘obtain a better resurrection' alludes to followers of God who, despite being persecuted for their faith, persevere with the firm assurance that they will eventually be raised after death to a better life in heaven, i.e. receive ‘a better resurrection'.


Investigating the source

  • How far do you think that the speaker aligns herself with the tortured believers spoken of in Hebrews 11:35? (Think about their refusal to be ‘released so that they might gain an even better resurrection'.)
    • What evidence do you base your answer on?
  • The poem's title comes from a Bible passage which specifically speaks of women receiving their dead back to life. Do you think that this is important? (For more details about the status of women in Victorian society see Social / historical context > The status of women.)
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