'The Lowest Place' - Synopsis and commentary


The speaker addresses God and asks to be seated in the place of least distinction in heaven, confident that Jesus' death means that there will be a place available. However undistinguished the eventual location, the speaker will be content to look upon and love God.

Watch The Lowest Place

Accompanying teaching resources


Rossetti composed The Lowest Place in 1863 and first published it in 1866 as the concluding poem to her second volume of verse, The Prince's Progress and Other Poems. The title, The Lowest Place, comes from the gospel of Luke which recalls a parable Jesus told. He had visited the house of a Pharisee and observed people picking the best places to sit at the table. He declared to the guests who were present:

When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this person your seat'. Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place'. Then you will be honoured in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Luke 14:8-11 TNIV

In her poem, Rossetti stresses the importance of following the precept that Jesus sets in actively asking for the lowest place.


End times

The speaker of The Lowest Room anticipates a time when s/he will be able to share in Christ's ‘glory by Thy side' (line 4). By asking that s/he may ‘live' (line 3), s/he hints at the possibility of receiving eternal life, as well as asking for the fullness of earthly life as it is described in the New Testament.

More on the Bible's teaching about new / eternal life: In the letter he wrote to the early Church in Rome, Paul teaches that everyone who is baptised as a sign of commitment to Christ will share in the offer that, ‘just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life'. (Romans 6:4 TNIV)


In the Bible, a parable is the term given to stories used by Jesus Christ to teach the ordinary people who came to hear him. Parables use everyday language and imagery to convey deeper spiritual meanings. Many of the parables that Jesus told use the imagery of the natural world: seeds, the harvest, birds etc. Throughout her poetry, Rossetti follows the pattern of Jesus' parables by using natural imagery and indirect methods of explanation to speak of the Kingdom of God.

Investigating The Lowest Place

  • Why do you think that Rossetti chose to derive her title directly from a passage in the Bible?
  • How effective do you think that this poem is as a reminder of the Christian belief that there is life beyond the grave?
  • Why do you think that the poem is not more explicit about this belief in life after death?
  • What similarities are immediately apparent in a consideration of both The Lowest Place and ‘Summer is Ended'?
  • What differences are immediately apparent in a consideration of both The Lowest Place and ‘Summer is Ended'?
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