A Poem in Honor of Mother’s Day

May 11, 2018 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team


Sunday, May 13, is Mother’s Day in the United States. To celebrate the date, we found a lovely poem written by Christina Rossetti in 1881. A sonnet, this untitled poem’s structure varies from the Shakespearean sonnet, which follows a rhyme scheme of abab, cdcd, efef, gg. Instead, Rossetti’s poem follows a modified Petrarchan Sonnet, also called the Italian sonnet. The Petrarchan Sonnet traditionally has a rhyme scheme of abba, abba, cdecde (or cdcdcd). See if you can figure out how Rossetti changed her sonnet’s structure. Do you have a guess as to why she relaxed it?

                          Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome
                          Has many sonnets: so here now shall be
                          One sonnet more, a love sonnet, from me
                          To her whose heart is my heart’s quiet home,
                          To my first Love, my Mother, on whose knee
                          I learnt love-lore that is not troublesome;
                          Whose service is my special dignity,
                          And she my loadstar while I go and come
                          And so because you love me, and because
                          I love you, Mother, I have woven a wreath
                          Of rhymes wherewith to crown your honored name:
                          In you not fourscore years can dim the flame
                          Of love, whose blessed glow transcends the laws
                          Of time and change and mortal life and death.

Christina Rossetti was a Victorian poet whose work is becoming more and more appreciated. A contemporary of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Rossetti’s poems have often been compared to Barrett’s. Some of Rossetti’s more famous poems include “My Gift” and “In the Bleak Midwinter.” “My Gift” is one of the poems included in IEW’s curriculum, Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization

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