Christina Rossetti's No Thank-You John and Robert Graves' A Slice of Wedding Cake

Powerful Essays
Christina Rossetti's No Thank-You John and Robert Graves' A Slice of Wedding Cake

Poetry is a completely malleable form of expression that writers use as an outlet for emotion and advocacy. Because each poet is distinct in form and content, a poet may harbor some characteristics that bare a resemblance to work of another. If there is no room for comparison, a poem may have a literary complement that sets up an interesting contrast between poems, or a poem may reinforce the ideas of another poem. The works of Christina Rossetti and Robert Graves are no exception. Though the two lived in different centuries, they both wrote about relationships between the sexes. Rossetti and Graves’ forms differed even as their contents played upon one another in the poems “No Thank-You John” and “A Slice of Wedding Cake” respectively.

Christina Rossetti was nothing if she were not a true artist. Rossetti was born in 1830 and lived until 1894 as a poet who had an early passion for art and literature (“Christina Rossetti” 1583). The driving force in Rossetti’s life was religion. She was a self-regulator who made decisions based on rigid religious values. In the midst of her unfaltering spiritual devotion, Rossetti gave up theater, opera, and chess (“Christina Rossetti” 1583). Rossetti never married, but that is not to say that she never had plans for marriage. She was engaged twice and both times broke the engagements for religious reasons. Rossetti wrote pure lyric, narrative fable, ballad, and devotional verse (“Christina Rossetti” 1583). She wrote poetry that dealt with deflection and negation. The Norton Anthology writes, “[Her] very denials and constraints give her a powerful way to articulate a poetic self in critical relationsh...

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...g the line roll without incident. Specifically, the sound “s” is repeated throughout the work using the words “simple, self-sacrifice, self-pitying, [and] sly” create the effect. The alliteration in the work makes the poem flow from word to word, line to line, and stanza to stanza. The alliteration creates an impression in the poem that stresses Graves’ key idea: the men are not worthy of the women that married them.

Graves and Rossetti are poets of a different era. Rossetti’s speaker’s action towards John is something that Graves would have been in favor of. Both poets were not afraid to express themselves through their verse. The differences in gender between Rossetti and Graves do not prevent them from sharing an opinion on the topic of relationships. Each poet knew how to use poetic devices such as alliteration and vivid diction to achieve his point.