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The Convent Threshold Analysis

Author: Poetry of Christina Georgina Rossetti Type: Poetry Views: 524

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There's blood between us, love, my love,

There's father's blood, there's brother's blood,

And blood's a bar I cannot pass.

I choose the stairs that mount above,

Stair after golden sky-ward stair,

To city and to sea of glass.

My lily feet are soiled with mud,

With scarlet mud which tells a tale

Of hope that was, of guilt that was,

Of love that shall not yet avail;

Alas, my heart, if I could bare

My heart, this selfsame stain is there:

I seek the sea of glass and fire

To wash the spot, to burn the snare;

Lo, stairs are meant to lift us higher--

Mount with me, mount the kindled stair.

Your eyes look earthward, mine look up.

I see the far-off city grand,

Beyond the hills a watered land,

Beyond the gulf a gleaming strand

Of mansions where the righteous sup;

Who sleep at ease among their trees,

Or wake to sing a cadenced hymn

With Cherubim and Seraphim;

They bore the Cross, they drained the cup,

Racked, roasted, crushed, wrenched limb from limb,

They the offscouring of the world.

The heaven of starry heavens unfurled,

The sun before their face is dim.

You looking earthward, what see you?

Milk-white, wine-flushed among the vines,

Up and down leaping, to and fro,

Most glad, most full, made strong with wines,

Blooming as peaches pearled with dew,

Their golden windy hair afloat,

Love-music warbling in their throat,

Young men and women come and go.

You linger, yet the time is short:

Flee for your life, gird up your strength

To flee; the shadows stretched at length

Show that day wanes, that night draws nigh;

Flee to the mountain, tarry not.

Is this a time for smile and sigh,

For songs among the secret trees

Where sudden blue birds nest and sport?

The time is short and yet you stay:

To-day, while it is called to-day,

Kneel, wrestle, knock, do violence, pray;

To-day is short, to-morrow nigh:

Why will you die? why will you die?

You sinned with me a pleasant sin:

Repent with me, for I repent.

Woe's me the lore I must unlearn!

Woe's me that easy way we went,

So rugged when I would return!

How long until my sleep begin

How long shall stretch these nights and days?

Surely, clean Angels cry, she prays;

She laves her soul with tedious tears:

How long must stretch these years and years?

I turn from you my cheeks and eyes,

My hair which you shall see no more--

Alas for joy that went before,

For joy that dies, for love that dies.

Only my lips still turn to you,

My livid lips that cry, Repent.

O weary life, O weary Lent,

O weary time whose stars are few.

How shall I rest in Paradise,

Or sit on steps of heaven alone

If Saints and Angels spoke of love

Should I not answer from my throne:

Have pity upon me, ye my friends,

For I have heard the sound thereof:

Should I not turn with yearning eyes,

Turn earthwards with a pitiful pang?

Oh save me from a pang in heaven.

By all the gifts we took and gave,

Repent, repent, and be forgiven:

This life is long, but yet it ends;

Repent and purge your soul and save:

No gladder song the morning stars

Upon their birthday morning sang

Than Angels sing when one repents.

I tell you what I dreamed last night:

A spirit with transfigured face

Fire-footed clomb an infinite space.

I heard his hundred pinions clang,

Heaven-bells rejoicing rang and rang,

Heaven-air was thrilled with subtle scents,

Worlds spun upon their rushing cars.

He mounted, shrieking, "Give me light!"

Still light was poured on him, more light;

Angels, Archangels he outstripped,

Exulting in exceeding might,

And trod the skirts of Cherubim.

Still "Give me light," he shrieked; and dipped

His thirsty face, and drank a sea,

Athirst with thirst it could not slake.

I saw him, drunk with knowledge, take

From aching brows the aureole crown--

His locks writhe like a cloven snake--

He left his throne to grovel down

And lick the dust of Seraphs' feet;

For what is knowledge duly weighed?

Knowledge is strong, but love is sweet;

Yea, all the progress he had made

Was but to learn that all is small

Save love, for love is all in all.

I tell you what I dreamed last night:

It was not dark, it was not light,

Cold dews had drenched my plenteous hair

Through clay; you came to seek me there.

And "Do you dream of me?" you said.

My heart was dust that used to leap

To you; I answered half asleep:

"My pillow is damp, my sheets are red,

There's a leaden tester to my bed;

Find you a warmer playfellow,

A warmer pillow for your head,

A kinder love to love than mine."

You wrung your hands, while I, like lead,

Crushed downwards through the sodden earth;

You smote your hands but not in mirth,

And reeled but were not drunk with wine.

For all night long I dreamed of you;

I woke and prayed against my will,

Then slept to dream of you again.

At length I rose and knelt and prayed.

I cannot write the words I said,

My words were slow, my tears were few;

But through the dark my silence spoke

Like thunder. When this morning broke,

My face was pinched, my hair was grey,

And frozen blood was on the sill

Where stifling in my struggle I lay.

If now you saw me you would say:

Where is the face I used to love?

And I would answer: Gone before;

It tarries veiled in paradise.

When once the morning star shall rise,

When earth with shadow flees away

And we stand safe within the door,

Then you shall lift the veil thereof.

Look up, rise up: for far above

Our palms are grown, our place is set;

There we shall meet as once we met,

And love with old familiar love.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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| Posted on 2017-07-19 | by a guest

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It is about male hegemony in religious sects that Rossetti is insinuating at. The fact that she has to let go of physical pleasures in order to atone for a sin is a clear bias of patriarchy.

| Posted on 2017-07-03 | by a guest

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Pretty sure this poem is entirely based on nuns and their hardship in resisting temptation. You're welcome.

| Posted on 2014-04-03 | by a guest

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Paragrahs 1 and 2
\'The Convent Threshold\' is about a \'soiled\' woman who has indulged in a premarital affair. The idea that she has had a sexual encounter with her lover is made evident by her being \'soiled with mud, With scarlet mud.\' \'Scarlet\' suggesting that she is a sinned woman. A link with Macbeth shows that this woman has a guilt complex -\'This selfsame stain... To wash the spot.\' The spot echos the precepton of guilt that Lady Macbeth felt.
The, unknown narrator, plans to \'mount\' the stairs. The stairs symbolise a lifting of the soul, becoming spiritually awoken as well as symbolising a tiring journey. This journey is expected to be filled with hardship and suffering, \'Racked, roasted, crushed...\' simlir to what Jesus went through. THe Thought is that she can not reach this destination without atoning for her sins.

| Posted on 2013-04-18 | by a guest

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OMG Rossetti had a badger farm. My whole life makes sense now!

| Posted on 2013-03-27 | by a guest

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the poem is trying to depict the struggles of a badger trying to find its dinner. This is shown in the line \"soiled with mud\" which clearly shows him looking for food in the forest. Arguably Rossetti sees this badger as god because there is lots of religious imagery.
Abbie and Alex APS

| Posted on 2013-03-27 | by a guest

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Rosetti shows how she suffers \" a loss of love \", just to reach Paradise in heaven. This illustrates the large influence that religion had over love and lust.

| Posted on 2011-05-23 | by a guest

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Women have needs? Seriously? Who do you guys think you are kidding?

| Posted on 2011-03-21 | by a guest

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you\'re all wrong!
go make me a sandwich. bitch.

| Posted on 2011-02-01 | by a guest

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The convent threshold is a story that conveys love and lust, the difference between earthly pleasures and heavenly virtue and the harsh reality of societys prejudice against womens desires and needs.

| Posted on 2011-01-12 | by a guest

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The poem depicts a young woman tormented by guilt and so she breaks with her lover and urges him to repent, as she has - in order to secure a place in heaven.She looks to a chaste heaven, whilst her lover is preoccupied with a lusty earth. However, she does refer to their sin as 'pleasant' and cries 'alas' at the 'joy' and 'love' that die. The final stanza suggests that if they repent now they can enjoy a spiritual union in heaven - is this somewhat ironic that she cannot imagine a heaven without him there?
Christina Rossetti was unconventional for her time in admitting and addressing female sexuality. The 'joy' she speaks of here clearly alludes to women's pleasure in sex, and these themes can be found even more strongly in 'Goblin's Market'. Rossetti worked in a charity house for 'fallen women' and so was well acquainted with 'experienced' women.
Elizabeth, England.

| Posted on 2010-05-20 | by a guest

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It appears that Convent Threshold depicts narrators journey through sin, hope , sacrifice and redemption. Apparently she is tainted by a sinful deed, "my lily feet are solied with mud" - evidently the purity implied by "lily" has been dirtied with the impurity connoted by "mud". Evidently she seeks salvation in heaven,"the golden sky ward stair" yet in order to reach this eternal serenity she must inevitably suffer. This is evident in the violent imagery of, "racked, roasted, cruched, wrenched" which infers the idea of purgatory. This is further evident in the death-like lexical field which follows in the apparent dream sequences, in which their is a feeling of weight and intensity. The narrator describes the "leaden tester", "crushing downward" etc. Evidently, she must suffer in order to reach her "paradise". However, one must question the reality of this desire as she evidently wants the person with whom she commited the sin to join her in heaven "there we will meet as we once met". Surely,she does not truly repent??

| Posted on 2009-04-13 | by a guest

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