Christina Rossetti's creative take on death and the afterlife is illustrated in her poem, "Sleeping at Last." The idea of death, for many writers, is a topic that is enticing to explore. Rossetti describes death as a peaceful sleep. She uses the imagery and structure of the poem to emphasize this. She feels death should no be feared, but that it sets a person free from the confines and troubles that the living must undergo. The following is my interpretation of "Sleeping at Last" by Christina Rossetti. First, I believe Rossetti is "her" in the poem. My reason for this is her life was not an easy one. She endured poor health from the age of fifteen. She rejected two suitors-one because of his Roman Catholicism, another because of his religious doubts. She suffered the disfiguring effects of Graves' disease. She outlived many of her closest relatives as well as her immediate family. She underwent breast cancer surgery and died in 1894. This being her final poem I believe she is describing her exhausted soul ready for its rest.
Secondly, I dont believe
this poem is about sleep or a call to the god of sleep. According to science literature sleep is a natural periodic state of rest for the mind and body, in which the eyes usually close and consciousness is completely or partially lost, so that there is a decrease in bodily movement and responsiveness to external stimuli. During sleep the brain undergoes a cycle of brain-wave activity that includes intervals of dreaming. The reason I feel this poem is clearly about death is because Rossetti wrote, "Sleeping at last in a dreamless sleep locked fast." To me the idea of a dreamless sleep is death. Next, even the structure of the poem lends a calming and peaceful feel to the theme. This poem is easy to compare to a roundel because of the repetition of the phrase "sleeping at last". By using this style it strengthens the major idea of the poem and also is fitting for Rossetti's rhyme scheme. By...
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