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Monna Innominata - Victorian Poetry Presentation

Outline for E362 Presentation of Christina Rossetti. Manuel + Sandy

Sandy Y

on 4 March 2011

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Transcript of Monna Innominata - Victorian Poetry Presentation

Monna Innominata A Sonnet of Sonnets by Christina Rossetti ANALYSIS Context Structure Major Themes Progression Close Reading Discussion Questions * published in 1881
* after her broken engagement to Charles Cayley , whose proposal she rejected because "she inquired into his creed and discovered he was not a Christian". * a fourteen-sonnet sequence
* each sonnet has a different rhyme scheme, but some of them are Petrarchan, some irregular
* each sonnet is prefaced by a line from Dante and Petrarch
* sonnets are written in iambic pentameter
* Love
* Sacrifice
* Metaphysical unity
* Idolatry
* Religious devotion
Intertextuality 1. Longing. --- 2. Memory. --- 3. Dreams. --- 4. Metaphysical unity.
--- 5. Blessing to her Beloved. --- 6. Surrender. --- 7. Biblical model of Love
8. Sacrificial love. --- 9. Memory. --- 10. The Race. --- 11. In Retrospection
--- 12. Letting Go. --- 13. Faith and Love. --- 14. Celibacy? * The rest of stanza 10 and the inn from "Uphill".
* Different types of love as portrayed in:
a. "Monna Innominata" – sacrificial, pure, biblical love
b. "Lady of Shallott" - longing, desire, lust
c. "Marianna" – the jilted lover, unfulfilled longing, pining 1. Contrast the different relationships between the loss of a loved one in Tennyson’s In Memoriam and Rossetti’s Monna Innominata.

2. What is your take on the title: Monna Innominata, which is Italian for “unnamed woman”. Given the historical context of the poem, do you think this sonnet sequence is anonymous as Rossetti claims or does it have a more autobiographical bent? Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two ;
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th' other do.

-John Donne, "A Valediction, Forbidding Mourning" Youth gone and beauty gone, what doth remain?
The longing of a heart pent up forlorn,
A silent heart whose silence loves and longs;
The silence of a heart which sang its songs
While youth and beauty made a summer morn,
Silence of love that cannot sing again.
(Rossetti, "Monna Innominata", XIV, 1-14) The Altar

A broken ALTAR, Lord thy servant rears,
Made of a heart, and cemented with teares:
Whose parts are as thy hand did frame;
No workmans tool hath touch'd the same
A HEART alone
Is such a stone,
As nothing but
Thy pow'r doth cut.
Wherefore each part
Of my hard heart
Meets in this frame,
To praise thy Name:
That if I chance to hold my peace,
These stones to praise thee may not cease.
O let thy blessed SACRIFICE be mine,
And sanctifie this ALTAR to be thine.

(George Herbert) Trust me, I have not earned your dear rebuke,
I love, as you would have me, God the most;
Would lose not Him, but you, must one be lost,
Nor with Lot's wife cast back a faithless look
Unready to forego what I forsook;
This say I, having counted up the cost,
This, though I be the feeblest of God's host,
The sorriest sheep Christ shepherds with His crook.
Yet while I love my God the most, I deem
That I can never love you overmuch;
I love Him more, so let me love you too;
Yea, as I apprehend it, love is such
I cannot love you if I love not Him,
I cannot love Him if I love not you.
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