Christina Rossetti, selected poems Contents
- A Better Resurrection
- A Birthday
- A Royal Princess
- At Home
- Cousin Kate
- Despised and Rejected
- Goblin Market
- Good Friday
- Jessie Cameron
- Maude Clare
- Shut Out
- Song (When I am dead, my dearest)
- Summer is Ended
- The Convent Threshold
- The Lowest Place
- To Lalla, reading my verses topsy-turvy
- Winter: My Secret
'Twice' - Synopsis and commentary
The female speaker offers her heart to her beloved but he does not appreciate the gesture / does not believe her to be ready for such a commitment (or is not ready himself). She feels her heart is breaking and becomes depressed, before bringing her bruised heart to God.
She asks God to judge her accurately and perfect her love, knowing that her heart will be secure in his ‘hands'. Aware of her acceptance by God, with a renewed sense of optimism the speaker commits her whole life to him, willing to accept whatever it is that he asks her to do.
Rossetti composed Twice in 1864 and first published it in her second book of poetry, The Prince's Progress and Other Poems. Although it speaks of the belief that God's love is better than man's, it is placed among the non-devotional poems at the start of the volume in view of its concentration on earthly love.
Many of Rossetti's poems focus around the figure of the forsaken women. From the bride in the title poem of the volume, The Prince's Progress, who is left waiting until her death for the arrival of her prince, to the misunderstood L.E.L., the forsaken women in Rossetti's poems express their struggle to find a voice in which they can communicate their distress.
Many male Victorian poets present the figure of the male beloved or bridegroom as a noble, chivalrous figure. However, by highlighting the weaknesses that can be identified in many males, Rossetti points to the fact that women are not wholly to blame for relational difficulties and challenges the sexual double standard (see Social / political context > The status of women > Sexual double standards).
- How appropriate do you consider the title Twice to be?
- What ideas does it suggest
- What signs does the speaker convey of weakness?
- What signs does the speaker convey of strength?
- What do you think that the speaker means when she declares that ‘a woman's words are weak' (line 7)?
- Do you think that she really means this or do you think that she is speaking in irony?
- What are your thoughts about her beloved?
- Would you describe him as cruel?
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