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TitlePoetics en passant: Redefining the Relationship between Victorian and Modern Poetry (Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters)
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size3.0 MB
Total Pages271
Table of Contents
                            Cover
Contents
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1 Any Where Out of This Verse: Baudelaire’s Prose Poetics and the Aesthetics of Transgression
2 “Prose Combat”: Baudelaire and The Press
3 The “Victorian Baudelaire”
4 Passing Strange: Christina Rossetti’s Unusual Dead
5 Goblin Metrics
6 “When I am dead, my dearest…”: Modernism Remembers and Forgets Rossetti
Coda
Notes
General Index
	A
	B
	C
	D
	E
	F
	G
	H
	I
	J
	K
	L
	M
	N
	O
	P
	Q
	R
	S
	T
	U
	V
	W
	Y
Index to Individual Works
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 2

POE T IC S E N PA S S A N T

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Page 135

P O E T I C S E N P A S S A N T124

Walter Benjamin famously argues that “Baudelaire placed shock
experience at the very center of his art,” and Benjamin’s influential
analysis thus places urban “shock experience”—in Baudelaire’s phrase,
the “daily shocks and conflicts of civilization”—in the “very center” of
modernity.1 “The close connection . . . between the figure of shock and
contact with the urban masses” gives rise to the flâneur’s ephemeral
encounters and “the sexual shock that suddenly overcomes a lonely
man.”2 Rossetti’s collection, on the other hand, has little to do with
the “shocks and conflicts” of the urban London in which she lived.
As one contemporary remarked, “Christina Rossetti’s mise-en-scène
is a place of gardens, orchards . . . it is certainly singular that one who
lived out almost the whole of her life in a city so majestic, sober,
and inspiriting as London should never bring the consciousness of
streets and thoroughfares and populous murmurs into her writings.”3
Instead, reading Rossetti after the “labored and skillful” work of her
contemporaries was like “passing from a picture gallery . . . to the real
nature out of doors . . . and the pleasant shock of the breeze.”4 The
“shock of the breeze” is rhetorically far from the “shock of the new,”
although the common term is well worth noting. Social context offers
an obvious if only partly satisfactory explanation for this difference in
emphasis and imagery: Baudelaire might stroll the most squalid Paris
streets at any time of the day or night, while Rossetti could hardly
meet a friend for dinner without an escort. A female streetwalker was
not a flâneur, but a prostitute.5

A woman might die, however, and raise no eyebrows. Goblin Market
and Other Poems, Rossetti’s first major collection—the collection of a
woman of thirty—contains poems entitled “After Death,” “Dead before
Death,” and “Sweet Death,” as well as the memorable first lines of “An
End” (“Love, strong as death, is dead”), “Song” (“When I am dead,
my dearest”), and “At Home” (“When I was dead, my spirit turned”).
This brief catalogue by no means exhausts the poems that give a promi-
nent place to death, only those that name it explicitly in the title or first
line. Where not rural, then, Rossetti’s settings are cryptically interior,
even underground. With regard to the question posed rhetorically in
the title poem—“Is it life or is it death?”— Rossetti seems throughout
the collection to weigh in heavily in favor of the latter. The topic is
nothing unusual for the era whose most celebrated poem was entitled
In Memoriam; nonetheless, a growing critical tradition places these
poems at the forefront of a reevaluation of Rossetti’s work as “an ironic
counter-discourse within Victorian poetry.”6

While Baudelaire’s brutal visions of street life, voyeurism, and
sexual predation tensely undercut the formal perfection of his sonnets,

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Page 136

P A S S I N G S T R A N G E 125

Rossetti’s “counter-discourse” operates differently. Rosetti, in contrast,
tends to make available a reading that will comfort or even flatter the
reader, only to undermine such a reading by foregrounding the duplic-
itous nature of the medium through grammatical sleights of hand,
the evocation and misapplication of convention, and what Margaret
Reynolds calls a “comprehensive Freudian panoply of dreams, puns,
mirrors, dualities.”7 Alison Chapman suggests that “this double within
the feminine produces a poetry at once conventional and subversive.”8
In Catherine Maxwell’s formulation, however, this doubleness falls
short of transgression: Rossetti “transgresses neither societal or poetic
law; she is conservative in that she simply takes advantage of what is
possible within it, pushing a position to the limits, making the famil-
iar strange, striking a novel, extraordinary pose.”9 To be sure, such
moves have less to do with the shock entailed in bursting through a
limit than with sneaking around the limit, with two-facedness, with
doubleness as duplicity. Rossetti’s transgressions progress by stealth,
by covering their tracks.10 This poetics of stealth or “passing”—a word
she uses frequently and often doubly—constitutes a crucial and under-
recognized, contemporaneous counterpart to Baudelairean shock.

The rhetoric of transgression implies a consideration of lim-
its and norms with the attendant understanding that these norms
shape work that transgresses them as well as work that operates
within their confines.11 Clearly the social and poetic constraints
Rossetti operated within and against were strikingly different from
the neoclassical prosodic norms confronting Baudelaire. Rossetti’s
“ counter-discourse” emerges most distinctly when read in context
with Victorian poetics. This emphasis, however, should not be under-
stood to suggest that Rossetti’s resonance and relevance to poetics
is circumscribed by its era or nation of origin, but rather that what
Mukařovský terms “the dynamics of contexture” helps illuminate
compositional strategies as well as formal and tropic resonances that
otherwise may have fallen from view.

Victorian critical convention saw women’s poetry almost exclusively
as almost literal self-expression—tears, sighs, or songs that sprung,
above all, naturally to the page. As Isobel Armstrong has argued at
length, the Victorian era privileged the expressive and emotive in
poetry and defined women’s poetry in particular almost exclusively in
these terms. Victorian expressive theory sees poetry in terms of “expan-
sion outwards,” “expression,” a “carrying out” of self from enclosure
within a barrier. As Armstrong explains, expressive theory takes up the
pseudo-Wordsworthian idea of overflow, the “spontaneous overflow of
powerful feeling,” but elides the aspects of Wordsworthian Romantic

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Page 270

I N DE X T O I N DI V I DUA L WOR K S B Y
C H A R L E S BAU DE L A I R E A N D

C H R I S T I N A RO S S E T T I

Baudelaire, Charles
individual works

A une passante, 17, 103
Any Where Out of the World, 19,

53, 92, 94, 104–105,
108–109, 129

Assommons les pauvres, 20
Au Lecteur, 223
Aveugles, Les, 224

Beauté, La, 21, 34–36, 37, 38–39,
43–44, 48, 106, 146, 226n37

Bons Chiens, Les, 94

Carnet, 64–65, 94, 109
Chambre double, La, 14, 20, 21,

34, 39–51, 53, 58, 60, 64, 69,
73, 94, 228n52, 230n11

Chevelure, La, 20
Corde, La, 20, 58, 75, 86, 92,

110–115,
Cygne, Le, 30, 223

Du vin et du hachisch, 31, 224, 226

Edgar Poe, sa vie et ses oeuvres, 94
Exposition Universelle de 1855, L’

22, 22–31, 34, 39, 43, 50, 83,
99, 228n52

Flacon, Le, 224n6, 229n1
Flambeau vivant, Le, 94
Fusées, 54, 94

Gateau, Le, 114
Gouffre, Le, 223n25
Guignon, Le, 94

L’Héautontimouroménos, 51
Hymne à la Beauté, 21, 34, 36–39,

44, 48, 50, 226n39, 226n40

Joueur Généreux, Le, 94

La Fanfarlo, 31, 224

Mademoiselle Bistouri, 20
Masque, Le, 223
Mon coeur mis à nu, 55–56, 60–61,

94, 99,
Mort des amants, La, 231

Notes nouvelles sur Edgar Poe,
31–33, 47–48, 49, 94, 227n47,
233n27

Notice sure Pierre Dupont, 67,
230n28

Pause for Thought, A, 198–201, 202
Peintre de la vie moderne, 62, 101,

103, 226n40, 233n27
Petites Vieilles, Les, 223n25
Puisque réalisme il y a, 99–100,

232n27

Salon de 1844, 227n52
Salon de 1859, 22, 102, 227n52,

232–233n27, 233n47

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I N D E X T O I N D I V I D U A L W O R K S260

Soupe et les nuages, La, 14, 58–62,
70, 230n11

Spleen II, 227n47

Un Hémisphère dans une chevelure,
20, 53, 79

Une Charogne, 56
Une Martyre, 56, 61, 68

Vampire, Le, 223n25
Voyage, Le, 54

Rossetti, Christina Georgina
individual works

After Death, 124, 132–134, 135,
136, 141, 146, 235n9, 236n21

Another Spring, 197–198
At Home, 124, 135–137, 191–192

Convent Threshold, The, 217, 237

“Goblin Market,” 10, 15, 17, 86,
145–177 passim

Goblin Market and Other Poems
(collection), 3, 9, 17, 123, 124,
134, 143, 153, 183, 184, 191,
202, 203, 217

Iniquity of the Fathers Upon the
Children, 193

Lowest Room, The, 190, 213

Maude, 14–16, 145, 148, 150,
157, 158, 172, 175, 176, 177,
190, 213, 236n15, 238n43;
and collage, 150, 175; and
“compound,” 15, 150, 157,
172, 175; and identity, 15,
148, 158, 172, 175, 190;
and parlor games, 145; and
religion, 176; and women’s
pastimes, 150

May, 197–198, 201

Sing-Song, 157
Song (When I am dead my

dearest . . .), 123–124, 131, 139,
179–214

Speaking Likenesses, 157
Spring, 191–193, 201

Triad, A, 241

Winter: My Secret, 134, 194–195,
198, 201–202

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