Grab “The World” by Her Horns

The poem “The World” by Christina Rosetti, compares the world, as seen by the poetic voice, to a woman of a seemingly polarized nature. The woman is described as a being of beauty and light during the hours of the day, but a gruesome and devilish creature once the sun has set. The poet illustrates the paradoxical seduction of life in its tendency towards beauty seen in the light of day and its true malevolence that is revealed in the darkness of night through vivid imagery and personification.  

At the heart of the sonnet, the poet spends time describing the physical differences of the personification of the world that she has created to shed light on the juxtapositions of life itself. She says “by day she stands a lie: by night she stands in all of the naked horror and truth with pushing horns and clawed and clutching hands.” The “she” being referred to is the woman that represents the world and it’s interesting that the poet views the world as seen during the day to “stand a lie” when most would assume that it is the light of day which typically reveals the truths of the world. This perception is one that the poet goes against with her belief that the true essence of life is that which is shrouded in the darkness of night and “pushing horns and clawed and clutching hands”. The binary of light and dark provides its own connotations of evil being in the dark which would imply that this poet believes the truth of the world is its immorality. This point is driven home through the depiction of the horns and claws of the woman that create a monstrous image of the world in its true form giving the audience a visual aid to better understand the world’s evil through “her” outwards appearance rather than simply providing examples of why the world is so bad. Through these conjured images, I believe that the poet is able to better communicate her perspective.