Poem introduction

This poem’s theme may be influenced by Christina Rossetti’s eleven years of voluntary work at a refuge for what were then called fallen women in Highgate. In the poem Rossetti emphasises that virtue is often a matter of chance and outward show. Had the speaker been more canny or manipulative she might have fared better and yet, her natural impulsiveness has given her a child. The subject of the pure and the impure women was of mesmerising interest to Victorian readers.

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