The poem “The world” is composed based on opposites. Christina Rossetti combined contradictions in this poem, to share her thoughts. According to this poetess, there is good and bad to be found in this world.
Although the poem was written many years ago (in the nineteenth century), this poem hasn’t lost its strength. It shows that we live in this world, where good and bad reside. In a way, this is Rossetti’s way to express her concerns about the fall of humankind.
Long after she died in 1894, people continued to discuss this poem. Was there more to this poem? Perhaps the way the men of her time were persuaded too often? To give into their need to commit sins? Was she perhaps one of those victims of these men?
Truth and lies are part of this world we live in. We see examples of the extremes almost every day. This isn’t limited to just one country in the world. In this poem, the world can be considered as the world that Rossetti viewed. She personalized the world in her poem, pointing us to those sharp edges.
The night in this poem is not just the time of day. It is a period of darkness, that can continue long after the sun has set. This is why she continues with her lies, during the daytime. The sins, she commits during the night time.
By day she woos me, soft, exceeding fair: But all night as the moon so changeth she;
Loathsome and foul with hideous leprosy And subtle serpents gliding in her hair. By day she woos me to the outer air,
Ripe fruits, sweet flowers, and full satiety:
But through the night, a beast she grins at me,
A very monster void of love and prayer.
By day she stands a lie: by night she stands
In all the naked horror of the truth
With pushing horns and clawed and clutching hands.
Is this a friend indeed; that I should sell
My soul to her, give her my life and youth,
Till my feet, cloven too, take hold on hell?
— Christina Rossetti