'The Lowest Place' - Imagery, symbolism and themes

Imagery and symbolism

Thy side - The speaker of The Lowest Place looks forward to eventually sharing Christ's glory ‘by Thy side' (line 4). In addition to indicating closeness and intimacy, by alluding to Christ's side, the speaker also recalls the wounds he received on the cross.

More on the wound to Christ's side: The gospel of John recalls that to check Jesus was really dead, ‘one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water' (John 19:34 TNIV). When Jesus later appeared to his disciples after he had risen, he reassures Thomas that he is who he claims to be by asking him, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe'. (John 20:27 TNIV)


Investigating imagery and symbolism

  • Is there anything that surprises you about the imagery and symbolism used in the poem?



In many of her poems, Rossetti presents life on earth to be a time of waiting. In The Lowest Place, she suggests that those who take the lowest place now will eventually be able to sit alongside God and enjoy eternity. She therefore emphasises the imperative need to be prepared.


Although the word ‘love' does not appear until the final line of The Lowest Place, it is a key theme since it motivates the speaker's decision to ask for the lowest place. S/he suggests that it is love for God that enables him/her to take the lowest place on earth and serve others. Because of the speaker's loving relationship with God, s/he is able to trust that one day this humility will be rewarded. It is perhaps significant that Christina Rossetti's brother used the second verse of The Lowest Place as the inscription on her gravestone.

Investigating themes

Can you identify any significant lessons that are conveyed in the poem?
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