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Additional resources for Christina Rossetti’s Faithful Imagination: The Devotional Poetry and Prose
However, once he begins to use the wisdom of his heart, he gains some contentment. 17 Once he ‘[applies] mine heart to know wisdom’, he comes to terms with the difficulties and incongruities of life: a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea farther; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it. (8:17) Ecclesiastes’ wisdom gets reinterpreted by the gospels of the New Testament as Matthew and Luke suggest that the failure of Solomon’s wealth and intelligence has directly to do with a lack of faith in God’s providence.
Consider The birds that have no barn nor harvest-weeks; God gives them food: — Much more our Father seeks To do us good. (16–20) Rossetti again makes use of Matthew and Luke: ‘Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. ’ (Luke 12:24). Once again, nature provides man with a parable about trusting in God’s love and in his special relationship with mankind. If God provides for the birds, who are less important to him than men, then surely he will give humanity ‘Much more’.
In The Face of the Deep, Rossetti writes explicitly about spiritual vision and imagination: ‘Whether natural or spiritual, eyes that look are the eyes likely to see. Meditation fixes the spiritual eye on matters worthy of insight: it sees something, it may gradually perceive more and more’ (FD 267). ‘“Consider the Lilies of the Field”’ is an appeal to the spiritual eye; while its words create a vision of the flowers, such a vision takes place in the mind, not in the eyes of the reader. Their spiritual beauty is given precedence through the ‘spiritual eye’ of the reader’s imaginative vision.