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The Woodspurge

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SW Kim

on 12 October 2014

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Transcript of The Woodspurge

The Woodspurge
Form and rhythm
4 quatrains, each of rhyme scheme aaaa
This simple rhyme scheme creates a sense of stillness, reflecting the poet's state of mind
The repetition of the same sound at the end of each line could show that everything appears the same to him, because he is grieving
In addition, the monosyllabic words slow the pace down to a near halt
Even the images are simple, and there are no devices like similies or metaphors
reflects his hollowed state of mind
He does not describe the setting, showing he is oblivious to his surroundings
Contrast with 'A Birthday'
These poems are polar opposites both in subject matter and techniques used
Comparison with 'Continuum'
While the subject is quite different in the poems, the state of mind of the poets are somewhat similar
Allen Curnow cannot find inspiration rendering him unable to write poetry
The poet/persona
He walks 'at the wind's will' and not at his own will, showing his aimlessness and passivity
In the second stanza he takes a posture that indicates depression
He is unable to even express his grief - 'My lips,drawn in, said not Alas!'
His eyes are wide open physically, enabling him to see the woodspurge in detail. However, he is blind spiritually, as he cannot even take meaning from his grief
His (possible) release from grief
While the poet cannot find significance in anything, he does not need it
The woodspurge serves to distract him from his grief
The Poem
The wind flapp'd loose, the wind was still,
Shaken out dead from tree and hill:
I had walk'd on at the wind's will,—
I sat now, for the wind was still.

Between my knees my forehead was,—
My lips, drawn in, said not Alas!
My hair was over in the grass,
My naked ears heard the day pass.

My eyes, wide open, had the run
Of some ten weeds to fix upon;
Among those few, out of the sun,
The woodspurge flower'd, three cups in one.

From perfect grief there need not be
Wisdom or even memory:
One thing then learnt remains to me,—
The woodspurge has a cup of three.
What's it about?
The poet expresses his intense grief, in an indefinite outdoor setting
After walking around aimlessly, he finally crouches down in despair and starts focusing on the ground
We never learn the source of his grief
The 'Inception' flower, as I like to call it
by Dante Gabriel Rosetti
However, he shows great detail in the weeds (there being exactly ten) and the woodspurge
his fixation on these are like his fixation on his grief - he ignores everything else
The poet fixates so much only on his grief that he cannot acquire 'Wisdom or even memory' from his experiences.
He cannot/refuses to find any profound meaning in anything

He finds release in the fact that the deeper meaning sometimes does not matter
How the poet does not get caught in the deeper meaning of the poem, along with the simplicity of the poem itself, could be a testament to the Pre-Raphaelite values that Rossetti held while writing this poem
'A Birthday' is filled with vivid images and expressive metaphors/similies that actively convey happiness
creates a contrast with the passivity of the poet in 'The Woodspurge'
Christina Rossetti's use of nature is luxurious and lively which creates a stark contrast with the dull, lifeless role of nature in 'The Woodspurge'
To him, nature is 'washed-out' and he is unable to see deeper meaning
This is similar to 'The Woodspurge' as both poets are unable to do this
Useful info
Biography of Dante Gabriel Rossetti:
Info about Rossetti's era as well as about his poetry and the Pre-Raphaelites
An analysis of the poem:
The keys click'd loose, the keys were still,
Shaken out dead was all the thrill:
I had typ'd on at Oram's will, -
I sat now, for my mind was still.

Between my books my forehead was, -
My lips, drawn in, said not to Cras!
My head was over in the class,
My naked ears heard the day pass.

My eyes, just slits, had the run
Of some twelve slides to fix upon;
Among those few, out of the fun,
The woodspurge flower'd, three slides in one.

From prezi work there need not be
Widom or even memory:
One thing then learnt remains to me, -
The woodspurge has a slide of three.

Essay questions
1. How does Rossetti portray the strength of his grief in his poem?

2. Analyse the differences between the states of mind and the techniques used to convey them in 'The Woodspurge' and 'A Birthday'
3. Compare and contrast the presence of nature in 'The Woodspurge' and one other poem of your choice
My own parody of 'The Woodspurge', well
done to those of you who bothered to look
Full transcript