A reader’s first impression of “A Birthday” by “Christina Rossetti” might be that she is celebrating her birthday with the love of her life, and yet, there is something sad about this. The poem provokes questions. Why would such an occasion evoke sadness?  Who is the speaker addressing? Are her lines meant for her love to figure out? Who is her mystery love? Is it a man or a woman?

The author starts her poem with the imagery of “My heart is like a singing bird” to show the reader how excited the speaker feels. Perhaps her heart is pounding so hard that it sounds like a beat or a song.  She continues, “Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;” to represent that her heart felt filled with lushness and fertility.  In line 8 of stanza 1, Rossetti writes, “Because my love is come to me.” The author intentionally hides her love’s identity. Maybe her love is famous while being incognito. Her love doesn’t necessarily have to be a person. It could be an object or a place. This makes the poem mysterious. The author seems like a private person.

In stanza 1, Rossetti repeats, “My heart is” which expressed how she felt during the time she wrote the poem. Maybe she wrote her poem around or on her birthday. Maybe her love inspired her to write poems. Rossetti’s poem is full of ambiguity by it doesn’t fully explain to the reader what the author is excited about. It makes the reader wonder what it’s really about. Maybe she wrote multiple poems about her love to persuade an intrigued reader to read more of her poems. It could lead to more about her birthday with her love.

In line 6 of stanza 2, Rossetti writes “In leaves and silver fleur-de lys”. It makes the reader wonder if the author was French or lived in France during her birthday. It’s possible that the author might like those type of flowers. It switches to situational irony. The reader doesn’t expect the author to mention French words. It’s possible that the author might like those type of flowers.

In line 8 of stanza 2, Rossetti writes, “Is come, my love is come to me”. It makes the reader confused. The author could be talking about the past or the present. The repetition of “is come” suggests that the author was relieved thus happy about it. The tone changes from the beginning to the end. The first stanza is excited thus the second stanza is calm. The author had hope.



A line that especially evokes my appreciation is, “Because it might be relatable to the reader could have had a similar . The feeling of “My heart is gladder than all these / Because my love is come to me” evokes a sensory experience of satisfaction, in addition to shaping the reader’s perception of love.  Another diction technique — that of “Because the birthday of my life” — evokes a sensory experience of joy.

What’s happening in the poem is that the author felt excited about her love. She shows this by mentioning her love several  times in the poem. According to Poetry Foundation, “Rossetti’s childhood was exceptionally happy, characterized by affectionate parental care in addition to the creative companionship of older siblings.” For the mood of the poem, a reader may think that the speaker is the type of person who gets eager for something to happen quickly. This is suggested by the line “My heart is gladder than all these”.   The speaker seems to be speaking to the reader, in addition to sharing her feelings from her eagerness. She didn’t specifically say who she was talking to.  The poem seems to spring from a particular historical moment or culture Christianity, etc when she talked about decoration. It’s probably a part of her religion to celebrate her birthday. The poem revolves around several themes, including joy in addition to love.

At first, the poem’s tone is gleeful. The author’s eagerness for her love’s presence also gives the reader a sense of happiness from her. In stanza 1, she says, “My heart is gladder than all these”. This suggests that she felt glad about her upcoming or current situation. The poem turns at stanza 2 with “Raise me a dais of silk and down;”. This suggests that the author was setting up for a party. Perhaps she was going to surprise her love.

If this poem were a question, the answer would be “yes”.  If it were an answer, the question is “Is the author excited about her love?”  The title suggests the author was celebrating her birthday and her love came as a gift and was celebrating with her. The poem’s form is a narrative. This form is a vehicle for the content of the poem. The form actually shapes the meaning that I make of the poem by describing how the author feels. The stanza’s rhythm contributes to its expressiveness. Each line is eight syllables long, and there are eight lines. The rhythm that this creates is a flow for the reader. The reader might find it more interesting since they know what to expect in each stanza and line.

Rossetti states, “I have learnt since to control my feelings—and no doubt you will!” In her poem, she uses her feelings in a positive way. In her past she was more angry and upset about certain things. Her family seemed to have inspired her to feel happier. Her love could possibly be someone she loves in her family. Perhaps it was someone in her family she loved more than anyone else. Rossetti was ill so it could’ve affected her in the past. Rossetti presents that, “But despite her illness, Rossetti’s warm outlook, undoubtedly informed by her religious faith, led her to these last words before she died in London on December 29, 1894, elicit a sense of hope and contentedness: “I love everybody. If ever I had an enemy, I should hope to meet and welcome that enemy to heaven.” Her love in her poem could be figurative. It might not actually be a person. Her love could just be a feeling that she’s never had or it just came back to her after a while.

1 Comment
  1. Nathan 1 year ago

    I think your essay is good and you do a great job of getting your point across. The only thing is that it sounds like you are just answering questions and would be better if you made the essay flow better. But overall a great essay.

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