After reading Prof. Landow's essay, "Rossetti's Temporal Structures," I was intrigued by Sonnet VII in the House of Life, which is titled "Supreme Surrender." In this sonnet we find a lover depicted in a reflective moment and where the sonnet is serving the purpose Rossetti sets out in the begining of the sequence of being "a moment's monument". Here it is a moment of long yearned for fuition of desire, where "the bliss so long afar, at length so nigh, rests there attained." Again later in the poem, the speaker reminds himself of "this sacred hour for which the years did sigh" and touches upon the tokens of his lover that maintained his desire for so long, have now been replaced by her reality there sleeping upon his breast.

I had several questions as to how to the relation of this poem to the thematic aims of the House of Life in general. As Prof. Landow points out, there seems to be a movement in the House of Life towards trying to find an eternal meaning in our own temporal sense of the world, much as Christ serves as the centre of the Christian human history. As he says, Rossetti does not simply make "the loved one nor even love itself but some perfect moment serve as the yearned-for center to time." Then what does the placement of this particular sonnet near the begining of the sequence serve? For this is a poem of complete fuition: "the supreme surrendor." We find here the lover who has found a moment where all of his desires have been met by the presence of this long sought after lover. Even Love has been personified as covetously weeping after suffering a loss to the hands of Fate whose "conrol doth from (love's) harvest reap this sacred hour for which the years did sigh.

What are we to make of Rossetti placing love under the control of time and fate? Where does this place the lover's "sacred hour"?

Can we read this a foreshadowing of the movement of the poem in general, or is this meant to be a victorious moment where love's meaning can be captured in a single moment?


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Last modified 28 October 2003