What lines in "My Sister's Sleep," "The Blessed Damozel," and other poems take the same approach to a non-symbolic reality that David H. Riede describes in "The Woodspurge"?

According to him, this poem embodies

in a peculiarly pure form one kind of poetry that may result from a loss of faith in the visionary. It is a poetry of nonstatement. A fact is presented, but the fact suggests nothing, means nothing. The poem's refusal to locate significance anywhere movingly expresses the hopelessness of deep grief, but at the same time it implies a very limited role for poetry. Rossetti's ambition, I think, was not to be satisfied with the terrribly limited poetic position that the facts could speak for themselves it they had anything to say. "The Woodspurge" represents a kind of minimalist poetry that not only abandons the role of the poet as seer, but even brings into question his role as maker, since the poem not only implies that the natural symbol has no special significance, but even that the insignificant symbol is discovered by chance, is a kind of objet trouvé. In fact, of course, "The Woodspurge " is a highly wrought, highly self-conscious work of art, but it is nevertheless a work of art that implies an extremely limited scope for the poet to work in.

How can you reconcile "The Woodspurge" to the ornate language and metaphor found in his sonnets?


David H. Riede, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Limits of Victorian Vision. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983, pp. 57-58.

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