The poem "A Birthday" written by Christina Rossetti was written to express her happiness and joy she felt within her heart through symbols of nature. The title of this poem can be easily mistaken as her talking about her day of birth, but she really was talking about the birth of her new love. She displayed this through imagery that painted a vivid picture of her emotions. Also, she divided this poem into two stanzas: one to express her feelings about her past love, and the other to express her feelings for her new love. As the poem began, her emotions weren't as strong, but as it progressed to the second stanza they steadily grew much more strong and rare. Towards the end of the poem, her emotions were so intense that they were almost too rare for a person to have; she really was showing how triumph she was to have a new chance at life with a new love.
"A Birthday" was divided into two stanzas both with 8 lines. The first stanza was about her feelings for her past love, whereas, the second was for her new love. Each two lines in this first stanza was a representation of her happiness which was then reversed to show it was at a standstill. In the first stanza, she started off by describing her heart. She says "My heart [was] like a singing bird/ Whose nest [was] in a watered shoot" (line 1-2) meaning that she has happiness within that was able to grow, but was simply nested in one place. She then goes on to say "My heart [was] like an apple-tree/ Whose boughs [were] bent with thick-set fruits" (line 3-4) showing that she was full and strong, but she has been shot down. She was weighed down by something that was preventing her love to increase. As the poem progressed, she continued to vividly draw a picture to the reader that her past love will never go anywhere. With these comparisons she was leading the reader into the next stanza to fully show her happiness of her new found love which was the "Birthday of [her] life" (line 15).
This poem was packed with emotions. Each stanza showd how happy she was as a person deep down. In the first stanza, every other line presents how much joy she had in her heart. In the second stanza, all 8 lines are full of her happiness that continued to increase about her "birthday of [her] life" (line 15). Rossetti purposely makes the first stanzas' comparisons clash, whereas, the second stanza's comparisons build to each other to show her increased joy.
Figures of Speech
Both stanzas in this poem were full of figures of speech. The first stanza used the simile 'My heart [was] like' to portray her ideas to the readers for a better understanding of how she feels. In the second stanza she uses metaphors such as "And peacocks with a hundred eyes" (line 12) which was really referring to the circles on the ends of the birds tail. She used both of these figures of speech to not only make her writing more easier to comprehend, but also to create imagery. Without imagery, it would be very hard for the readers to truly see her joy within.
From the beginning to the end, this poem was bursting with imagery. The first stanza showed the reader images of nature scenes to capture the beauty of something that was changeable. Everything in nature was breath taking until a stronger force, such as a storm, ruined it. Everyday nature scenes can re-grow into something more beautiful, but initially they are easily destroyed. In the second stanza the compassions were more complex metaphors such as "doves and pomegranates,/ And peacocks with a hundred eyes" (line 11-12) which were not as easily destroyable because they were very rare to find.
The purpose of this poem was to vividly show her readers her happiness that her "love [has] come" (line 9 and 16). She was overfilled with joy that she has re-birthed from an old love to a new one. She showed her love in an organized way that was clear to understand by making the first stanza being about her past love and the second one being about her re-birthed one. She used figures of speech to make the reader understand that what she means by 'birthday' was a celebration of her new love and not a celebration of her being born. She also used a lot of imagery to make the poem clear and understandable. "A Birthday" was about Rossetti moving on from an old flame that was unable to grow even though she still had a happy heart to a new love "Because the birthday of [her] life/ Is come, [her] love is come to me" (line 15-16).
Delbanco, Nicholas, and Alan Cheuse. ""A Birthday"" Literature: Craft and Voice. Boston: McGraw- Hill, 2010. 793. Print.