About the Poet:
Christina Rossetti (5 December 1830- 29 December 1894) was an English writer who wrote a variety of romantic, devotional and children’s poems during her time. The sister of Pre-Raphaelite writer-artists, Dante Gabriel and William Rossetti, she was gifted with heights of creative powers. Although she was educated at home, it was by her mother who had studied well-known religious works, classics, fairy tales and novels of her time. Some of her most famous works include “Goblin Market” and “Remember”.
Introduction to Cobwebs:
This poem by Rossetti is all about the lonely emotions that she has felt during her life when she believes to have no one to love. Rossetti is deeply moved by the isolation that she faces and has illustrated her feelings regarding this in the given poem. She describes herself to be in a place that is an amalgam of nothingness and hence speaks of being in a place that is neither this nor that. She sees no future in this land and calls it a land of forevermore.
The setting of Cobwebs:
The poem is set in a land that Rossetti seems to be stuck in. She cannot help but express her feelings regarding her state of loneliness through this poem. She speaks of a place that is in between happiness and sadness where she cannot experience any profound feeling or emotion. She feels like this emotion shall last forever and feels trapped in this realm for what seems like forever.
Poetic Devices in Cobwebs:
Line 1: “… with neither night nor day,”
Line 6: “…. seasons wax and wane, “
Line 9: “… no shifting sand,”
Line 10: “to stir the stagnant space,”
Line 13: “No future hope, no fear forevermore.”
Line 5: “While through the sluggish air a twilight
Line 11: “And loveless sea ..:”
The Style of Cobwebs:
It is a land with neither night nor day, (A)
Nor heat nor cold, nor any wind, nor rain, (B)
Nor hills nor valleys; but one even plain (B)
Stretches thro’ long unbroken miles away: (A)
While through the sluggish air a twilight grey (A)
Summary of Cobwebs:
The poem Cobwebs is about Rossetti’s phase in life where she cannot seem to express or even experience any profound feeling in her life. According to her, this phase seems like a lifetime and hence she believes to be lost in the land with no future. Her state of being seems to have lost in this land of grey where neither night nor day exists, where there is no end to a road, and where the moon neither waxes nor wanes. This state of shallow living is what Rossetti describes in this poem.
Critical Analysis of Cobwebs:
This poem by Rossetti gives it a human touch to it, setting it apart from the rest of her poems for being a much more cold and realistic representation. Cobwebs deals with the reality of depression where loneliness is all that is observed all around the individual. Rossetti speaks of the honest emotions that she had felt during her period of depression where she seems to be lost in a grey area and cannot find any articulate feeling within any of her observations. Her words are what resonate with the mental state of a depressed individual which seems to be of commendable value for Rossetti to have expressed such deep mental trauma during her period.
Central Idea of Cobwebs:
The centre of the poem deals with all the emotions felt by a depressed individual in their state of isolation. Rossetti’s narration sounds like the voice of the mind of a depressed individual who is lost in the grey area of their life and cannot seem to feel anything at all.
The Tone of Cobwebs:
The poem begins with Rossetti describing her mental state of being, where no sense of night or day can be acknowledged. Each state of being is said to be lost in between, like the moon neither waxing nor waning and the sight of neither hills nor valleys. She then speaks of the world to be a long unbroken road that she cannot seem to find an end to. She then speaks of the world to have no future or any sense of hope and hence believes to be lost in this world forevermore.
Rossetti narrates her mental phase of depression and all of its emotions in this poem. She believes her world to be lost in this grey area where there is no waxing or waning of the moon, and the presence of hills or valleys and hence she imagines herself to be lost in the unbroken road that her life now seems to be. She thinks of herself to have lived in this land forever and calls this poem Cobwebs due to the belief that she has been covered in cobwebs and has now lost herself in that phase of her life.
Contributor: Deeksha Honawar
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