Christina Rossetti, “Good Friday”

My two favourite poets of the Victorian era are Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) and Christina Rossetti (1830-1894). Both wrote poems that offer tremendous devotional avenues.

Here is Rossetti’s “Good Friday,” which was published in her 1866 collection The Prince’s Progress and Other Poems. Pace those who have seen in this poem the challenge to faith that a number of Victorian intellectuals experienced, I think it bears witness to a faith both thick and deep:

Good Friday
Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter, weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon –
I, only I.

Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.