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'A Birthday' by Christina Rosetti

Analysis on the poem 'A Birthday' by Christina Rosetti
by

Stratis Markou

on 2 April 2013

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Transcript of 'A Birthday' by Christina Rosetti

Analysis
by
George Mytilineos and
Stratis Markou Introduction Being a supporter of the Arts and Crafts Movement, she includes several elements of the natural world in this specific poem, possibly in an attempt to promote the Movement. Christina Rossetti was a deeply religious individual who was charmed by the beauty of Nature and God, and as her brother, Dante Rossetti did, she wrote poems revolving around these two subjects. The main theme of this specific poem is love, but it has some other, secondary themes such as joy and exultation, as well as the grandeur of Nature. Christina Georgina Rossetti was born on 5 December 1830 and died on 29 December 1894 and was a Pre-Raphaelite poet. Rhythm and Structure The poem consists of two stanzas, each formed of eight lines, and does not follow a particular structure style.


The Rhyme Pattern is rather unusual as it is A,B,C,B,D,E,F,E throughout both stanzas.


The poem follows the Iambic Pentameter, which has an effect of solid, repetitive rhythm, that mimics the sound of a heart, beating, an object that is her the focus of the poem throughout the first stanza. The Simile of the Heart The main focus of the poem in the 1st Stanza is the heart of the persona (who is very likely to be the same as the poet), representing their feelings on a metaphorical level. The poet attempts to illustrate her joy and delight by comparing her heart with some rather appealing images of fertility, such as "an apple tree... bent with thickest fruit" and "a singing bird... whose nest is in a watered shoot." (the word "watered" indicates that the bird, in a literal level, and the poet in a metaphorical level, is cared/provided for, something that shows love).

We can thus understand how the poet communicates her joy through describing the beauty of the natural world.


She also compares her heart with "a rainbow shell/That paddles in a halcyon sea." The word "rainbow" creates a rather joyous image, that suggests celebration after a "storm", forming a metaphor which indicates hardships and difficulties in life. This phrase also refers to the Greek myth of the halcyon days, a period of calmness and harmony, during the winter. From these two elements we can see how the happiness of the poet is conveyed to the reader, being presented as the peace and tranquility that emerges after struggle. Here Rossetti integrates some elements of the natural world, as expected, judging from her nature-loving profile, and her association with the Arts and Crafts Movement. Second Stanza In the second stanza Rossetti includes many Victorian and religious symbols. More specifically elements such as "gold and silver", "silk and down" (two very expensive and valuable resources), "vair", (which is the soft fur of a squirrel), as well as "purple dyes" indicate wealth, extravagance and royalty/nobility. The Symbol of the "peacocks" is very significant as it represents pride and glory (the two feelings that the poet is trying to communicate throughout the whole stanza) as well as rebirth due to the annual renewal of the bird's feathers. The symbol of "doves" represents freedom and peace, but in the specific poem it also acts as a biblical allusion of the dove sent by Noah after the Cataclysm. This has a very positive effect of and creates a very celebratory atmosphere in the mind of the reader. Imperative Verbs In the second stanza we encounter three verbs in the Imperative: "Raise", "Carve" and "Work". These three verbs carry a commanding connotation giving the poem the tone of a prayer, as well as refer to the encouragement for the creation of new Art. A Birthday By Cristina Rossetti Tones & Themes ''Birthday' is a poem that is against the industrial revolution. Since Rosetti was a nature enthusiast it is very logical for her poem to match her ideologies.

God is praised in multiple parts of the poem including the 4th line in the 2nd stanza as well potentially in the final line as well.

As it is the poet's birthday, expression of happiness and joy also appears in the poem.

Finally, almost in the whole poem, Rosetti praises nature. Examples include the first 6 lines of the first stanza as well as the 3 line in the second stanza.
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