“A Better Resurrection” by Christina Rossetti (poem)

Kringen, Aiden_Opulence 4 (detail)
Aiden Kringen (American, 1992–), Opulence 4 (detail), 2022. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 36 × 18 in. [for sale]

I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numbed too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimmed with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.

My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk:
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall—the sap of Spring;
O Jesus, rise in me.

My life is like a broken bowl, 
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perished thing;
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King:
O Jesus, drink of me.

This poem was originally published in Goblin Market and Other Poems (Macmillan, 1862) and is in the public domain.

One of the most celebrated poets of the Victorian era, Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830–1894) was an English writer of Romantic, devotional, and children’s poems. She was the youngest of four siblings, among them the Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, several of whose paintings she sat for, famously modeling for the Virgin Mary. Her father was an Italian political exile to London and instilled in her a love of Dante Alighieri and the Italian language, which he taught at King’s College until being struck ill and rendered blind. He died when Christina was thirteen, and from then onward she suffered bouts of depression and physical illness. Loss and death, heaven, renunciation, the need for grace, and the perfection of divine love are recurring themes in her poetry. A devout Anglican whose verse gives vivid expression to the life of faith and to spiritual longing, she is recognized as a saint by the Church of England and the Episcopal Church, who celebrate April 27 as her feast day.

6 thoughts on ““A Better Resurrection” by Christina Rossetti (poem)

  1. This is one if my favorites! Thank you for sharing : ) I did not know that Rossetti is honored as a saint in the Anglican Church. How wonderful as she is certainly an inspiration to many as she continually beckons readers to come sit at the feet of Jesus. And the beauty and skill of her work is just so uplifting!


  2. This is a superb poem. It summarises so well how I, and doubtless many, many others, felt in unexpected bereavement and yet still with the hope of the sap of Spring from the risen Christ rising eventually within.


  3. Thank you for introducing me to two new artists today. I feel comforted by how brave they are to express what I see as beautiful, raw authenticity.


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