A Birthday; Christina Rosetti - Analysis

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‘A Birthday’ is an upbeat, jubilant poem about love, written by Christina Rossetti in 1861. While many believe that this love she is expressing so effusively is about a man, I believe that it is about her new-found love for God. Rossetti, after all, was a very religious person. The poem, surprisingly, has an exuberant, lively tone, a great contrast to her other works, which almost always give a sense of gloom and bleakness. Rossetti creates a structured arrangement, allowing the images to flow smoothly. By separating the poem into two octets, containing eight syllables per line, Rossetti creates contrast by first, describing her feelings - her all-consuming happiness, how interchangeably light and heavy her feelings are - then explaining in detail the preparation that must be done to welcome the love that has come to her. Further creating a disparity are the imageries in the octets: the first octet uses imagery of nature, portraying the profusion and fecundity of her love, juxtaposed by the imagery of wealth and value in the latter, showing how much her love is worth. The first stanza has a lexical motif, using a series of similes containing natural images, such as “a singing bird”, “an apple tree” and “a rainbow shell” which give connotations of abundance and natural, wholesome love, and symbols of new life, resurgence, and hope. Also, she uses an anaphora of “heart”, which underlines the strength of her love, as if she is scrambling for words to describe her feelings and excitedly looking for ways to explain and express the force of her love. Furthermore, it has an iambic rhythm which pushes the poem forward, emphasizing her urgency and excitement to express just how her heart feels. It rests on “heart”, reinforcing her love and even resembles a heartbeat. The simile used in the beginning of the poem emphasizes how her love creates a new beginning for her by comparing her heart to “a singing bird. This comparison gives a joyful and excited tone, and implies a...
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