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Comparing Philosophies in West-Running Brook and Meditation 17

Philosophies in West-Running Brook and Meditation 17

No matter the elaborate chicanery afforded its disclosure or evasion, the subject of death relentlessly permeates the minds of men. Death and its cyclical, definitive nature connects all humans to one another. Robert Frost in “West-Running Brook” and John Donne in “Meditation 17” provoke a universal reexamination of the relationship between life and death. While both authors metaphorically represent this relationship, the former assumes a pessimistic approach by negating any correlation between the two, whereas the latter, voicing man’s dependence on G-d, optimistically surmises the crossover a restoration of our natural haven.

Frost utilizes “West-Running Brook” as a catalyst towards an insightful philosophy comparing human existence to a west-running brook. The westward direction of the brook informs the reader of the poem’s focus on death due to the inherent archetypal associations between death and the sunset, which occurs in the west. “Running” and a stylistically choppy sentence structure convey the poet’s belief in the rapid and ephemeral pace of life. Repetition of the phrase “runs away” (“it runs away, it seriously sadly runs away”) serves as a constant reminder of this transient aspect of life while adding an element of despair and loneliness. “The Frostian consciousness normally resides in the time-space continuum, and finds it extremely difficult to move behind or beyond…while remaining drenched in skepticism(Hart 442).” “What all this comes to is a detachment which in its cultural context is a poetry of isolationism(Traschen 63).” Frost’s isolation accosts the reader who cannot help but to sympathize and possibly empathize with his situation. Frost’…

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…d Brave Scorn: John Donne. Duke University Press, 1982. 178.

Kemp, John C. Robert Frost and New England: The Poet as Regionalist. Princeton University Press, 1979. 273.

Lewalski, Barbara. Protestant Poetics and the Seventeenth Century Religious Lyric. Princeton University Press, 1979. 253-282.

Murry, John. “Donne’s Devotions.” The Times Literary Supplement.11 Mar. 1926. No. 1260.

Ogilvie, John. “From Woods to Stars: A Pattern of Imagery in Robert Frost’s Poetry.” South Atlantic Quarterly. Winter, 1959. 64-76.

Sherwood, Terry. Fulfilling the Circle: A Study of John Donne’s Thought. University of Toronto Press, 1984. 231.

Traschen, Isadore. “Robert Frost: Some Divisions in a Whole Man.” The Yale Review. Vol. LV, No. 1. Autumn, 1965. 57-70.

Untermeyer, Louis. “Still Robert Frost.” Saturday Review of Literature. 22 Dec. 1928. 71-74.

Feminism in Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market

Feminism in Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market

The Victorian period marked the first traces of progress in the feminist movement, and poet Christina Rossetti embraced the advancement as her own long-established principles slowly became publicly acceptable. Her poem “Goblin Market” comments on the institutions in Victorian society that she and her feminist contemporaries wished to see altered, creating modern female heroines to carry out its messages. The goblins serve as malicious male figures to tempt the innocent heroines, sisters Laura and Lizzie, to corruption.

According to the Victorian definition, a gentleman “never takes unfair advantage . . . or insinuates evil which he dare not say out,” and possesses, among other qualities, the ability to avoid all suspicion and resentment (Landow 4). The goblins in Rossetti’s poem succeed in contradicting every Victorian definition of a gentleman throughout the poem; the only male figures present, they represent the deleterious nature of men on the lives of women. In “Goblin Market,” the mens’ only beneficial purpose is “impregnation. Once both sisters have gone to the goblins and acquired the juices of their fruits, they have no further need of them” (Mermin 291).

The poem begins with the goblins calling the sisters’ attention to their delicious, exotic fruits, which represent the proverbial forbidden fruit–one taste leads to destruction. But the goblins depict their fruits as enticing. Rossetti uses rich imagery such as “Currants and gooseberries,/ Bright-fire-like barberries,/ Figs to fill your mouth,/ Citrons from the South,/ Sweet to tongue and sound to eye” (1) to stimulate the reader’s senses, just as the goblins’ calls provoke Laura and Lizzie. The goblins at…

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…n ‘Goblin Market.'” Victorian Poetry. Vol. 21, No. 2. Summer 1983.

Phillips, W. Glasgow. “Theme in Christina Rossetti’s ‘Goblin Market’.” The Victorian Web. 1992. URL:

Plowman, Melanie. “As A Poet Speaking from Within Female Limitations.” The VictorianWeb.1990.URL:

Rossetti, Christina. “Goblin Market.” Goblin Market and Other Poems. Ed. Candace Ward. New York: Dover Publications, 1994. 1-16.

Weathers, Winston. “Christina Rossetti: The Sisterhood of Self.” Victorian Poetry. Vol. 111, No. 2, 1965.

Wohl, Anthony S. “The Supposed Excessive Sexuality of Lower Classes and Tribal Cultures.” The Victorian Web. URL:

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