The Reading Nook: Poetry Friday

You know, I don’t read enough poetry. Which is sad, because when I read it, I love it. So, to bring a little more rhyme and/or rhythm into my life and yours, once a month I’ll have poetry Friday.

I’m starting with perhaps my all-time favorite poet, Christina Rossetti. My first exposure to her was in the 4th grade (Miss Core should be proud I remember!) – but it wasn’t until years later in college that I studied more of her work. I remember hearing a guest lecture on Goblin Market – and I thought I’d died and gone to poetry heaven. Then I discovered that one of my favorite Christmas carols, In the Bleak Midwinter, was written by Christina Rossetti.
In grad school I took to collecting the lovely pocket sized “Everyman’s Library” editions of poetry collections – Rossetti was my first purchase. Through this lovely little set I’ve discovered much more of Rossetti’s work, including religious prayers and meditations.

Here’s one of my favorites, a selection from Monna Innominata: A Sonnet of Sonnets. This set of sonnets was written as a response to Dante’s poetry to his immortalized “Beatrice” or Petrarch’s “Laura.” I love this poem, because at its heart, it is a woman’s prayer for the man she loves, presumably her husband or betrothed, and prayer for herself as his helpmeet. Its powerful and simple, and could fit into my devotional life easily.

Sonnet 5

“Amor che a nulla amato amar perdona” ~ Dante

Amor m’addusse in sì gioiosa spene” ~Petrarcha

O my heart’s heart, and you who are to me

More than myself myself, God be with you,

Keep you in strong obedience leal and true

To Him whose noble service setteth free,

Give you all good we see or can foresee,

Make your joys many and sorrows few,

Bless you in what you bear and what you do,

yea, perfect you as He would have you be.

So much for you; but what for me, dear friend?

To love you without stint and all I can

Today, tomorrow, world without end;

To love you much and yet to love you more,

As Jordan at his flood sweeps either shore;

Since woman is the helpmeet made for man.

I love how the classics can integrate into our spiritual lives. I can’t really classify Rossetti as a secular artist, but since I won’t find her work in a Christian bookstore, today I’m wondering what “secular” work of art, music or literature has influenced your spiritual life this week?



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