A daughter of Eve

A daughter of Eve

We are very good at follow ups. You probably read the articles about Emily Dickinson earlier (if you haven’t please read them, they are worth the reading). This time I am following up my article about Christina Rossetti. The poem A daughter of Eve is poem about a fallen woman.

About this poem

The inspiration for writing the poem probably came when Rossetti volunteered at the St. Mary Magdalene House of Charity. She was a volunteer there between 1859 en 1870.

The woman Rossetti refers to is unknown, but this is a woman who was raised religiously. At some point in her life she started working as a prostitute (fallen woman) and she is sad about the love she lost. She blames her religion for this.

As much as you want to believe it, Eve doesn’t refer to evening, but to the religious figure Eve. She was of course the wife of Adam. Just like Eve, the woman once lived without sin. When eating the apple, Eve fall to sin.

At the time Rossetti wrote her poem, no one really slept at noon. This was only done by those who were up all night and needed sleep. The sentence a fool to pluck my rose too soon refers to that moment when she had sexual intercourse for the first time. The flower, a lilly, is destroyed and that is something considered at that time to be very sinful.

As it comes down to the inspiration, there is a clear reference to William Shakespeare’s King Lear. Because the fool also appears in that play. A fool was according to Shakespeare a jester that performs tragedies at the courts of kings and other royals.

Even though there are words that seem to be comforting in a way, there is no comfort for this poor woman.

The poem

A daughter of Eve

A daughter of Eve

By Christina Rossetti

A fool I was to sleep at noon,
And wake when night is chilly
Beneath the comfortless cold moon;
A fool to pluck my rose too soon,
A fool to snap my lily.



My garden-plot I have not kept;
Faded and all-forsaken,
I weep as I have never wept:
Oh it was summer when I slept,
It’s winter now I waken.
Talk what you please of future spring
And sun-warm’d sweet to-morrow:–
Stripp’d bare of hope and everything,
No more to laugh, no more to sing,
I sit alone with sorrow.

As you can imagine Rossetti’s poems contain a nice rhyme. That is why I will publish more work at the website of The Ministry of Poetic Affairs in the near future.


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