Dante Rosetti's 'The Orchard-Pit' mixes biblical allusions of the Fall of Man with a dash of mythical symbolism to create an interesting spin on the theme of Death and the Maiden. With the use of these literary allusions, Rosetti seems to be suggesting to the reader that Death is the Maiden, or at least the hand maid of Death...the figure through whom Death traps its victims.
In "The Orchard Pit" the biblical imagery focuses around the story of Eden, and Eve's role in the original fall from grace. The garden of Eden itself is often alluded to throughout the poem. Intermixed with these biblical allusions is the reference to Ulysses' Sirens from classic mythology. This creates a sort of juxtaposition of these two feminine roles, the Siren that lures sailors to their death with the power of their beauty and (as alluded to in the work at hand) the power of Eve and her sexuality over Adam that drove him to be blinded to the sin that would destroy him.
Throughout the poem, these two roles are interchangeable with the same results-death/destruction to the lover, namely, man.
Stanza one opens with the classic Fall from grace image of plucked apples that lead to death. The men lie below the apple tree with the forbidden apples in their hands, their guilt obvious. The words "below" and "bitter" combined with the word "pit" from the poem's title also lead one to the conclusion that these men that rot away in the pit below are those who succumb to temptation, and are in some way the 'bad apples' of the world. Thus making the orchard pit itself the place where all the bad apples are doomed to rot, "some are only ancient bones that blanch", a pit not too much unlike the biblical...