The question this paper pursues, in short, is theoretical within a particular historical frame: how does the Victorian notion of the adventual answer that most Victorian of questions, what does it mean to be historical?
As I will present it here, the adventual in Victorian culture comprises two movements: an expectation of radical historical renewal, followed by the failure of that expectation through an arrival that is a non-arrival, in that the changes it brings can be characterized as renewing only "poetically or grandiloquently" or, indeed, ironically.
In elucidating the nature of adventual hope and the demands it entails, however, she helps to bring into view what her poetry does not articulate, that second movement of the adventual, its failure.
If we approach these stanzas though a psychoanalytic rather than a Christian framework, then what is striking is the joyous narcissism of the adventual fantasy--joyous because in this fantasy, the loving, beloved, and beautiful self is also fully other and is therefore capable of recognition and response.
As Rossetti helps us to understand it, adventual desire is for an unknown future that felicitously also estranges the present from itself.
Moreover, that promise does not lapse: the adventual imagines a beginning that does not spill over into narrative consequence, much less completion.
Here, Rossetti echoes the Song of Solomon, conveying the nature of adventual hope through figures of unending beginning.
Yet, even for the faithful, adventual desire can generate a kind of exhaustion.
Here, Rossetti depicts the period of adventual promise as a suspension of event, a period of waiting so prolonged that anticipation becomes heart-sickness.
This is the curious nature of the adventual promise: even those objects bespeaking persistence, fortitude, and return will "pass away.