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How Does Rossetti Convey The Joy Of Being In Love In ‘A Birthday’?

640 words - 3 pages

The first stanza focuses on images from the natural world, which suggests that the speaker is happy while she explains how every little thing seems beautiful when she is in love. It has a strict iambic tetrameter which, combined with the rhyme scheme, alliterations and repetitions, creates a song-like rhythm and highlights the key words ‘love’ and ‘heart’. In this stanza, the repetition of the first person possessive determiner and object pronoun make this an intensely personal poem. The speaker expresses the fullness of her heart by starting every comparison with ‘my heart is like’. Rossetti’s use of anaphora, evident in the repetition of these lines, emphasizes the speaker’s inability to articulate her joy through language. She then tries to search for an appropriate simile for her feelings, using symbols that invoke images of celebration and happiness. The repetition of ‘my heart’ has an effect of ...view middle of the document...

The simile ‘like an apple tree whose boughs are bent with thickest fruit’ gives an image of a tree loaded with fruit and effectively shows how full of love her heart is. The speaker delays her reason for joy until the final line of the first stanza to build intrigue.
‘The Birthday of my life’ and the arrival of a lover are more or less equivalent. Then she withholds main verbs such as ‘is come’ until the final line, reinforcing idea of her anticipation.
In the second and last stanza there is a shift in tone and imagery: moves from images of beauty in the natural world, which gives an idea of artfully fashioning something to celebrate arrival of love. The tone in this stanza gives a sense of urgency. The lines beginning with an imperative start on trochee before continuing with three iambs. By the breaking out of the regular metrical scheme, Rossetti achieves a sense of urgency in the speaker’s voice to create something new to celebrate return of her love. Images from Christian art, like the ‘fleurs-de-lys’, are included in the poem. The ‘doves’ are a symbol of peace often depicted in Christian art as well. References from Victorian art are present too like, for example, the ‘silver grapes’ and the ‘pomegranates’. The grapes are symbolic of Christ’s suffering: wine is made with grapes, and this drink represents His blood. The images of pomegranates were not only popular in Victorian art but featured particularly in Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s paintings, especially Persephone. This fruit was often found in Christian religious decoration, as the fruit broken symbolizes Jesus’ suffering and resurrection. The metaphor ‘peacocks with a hundred eyes’ refers to the peacocks’ circular design in the centre of the feathers. Perhaps it could symbolize desire to visualize love. She mentions expensive materials like ‘down’, ‘silk’ and ‘vair’, which suggest that the arrival of her love is so important that it must be a perfect moment prepared with the most precious and pricy objects. At the end of the poem we can clearly see that ‘the birthday of my life’ is a metaphor for a uniquely special event, including epistrophe which repeats the final line in stanza one ‘my love is come to me’.

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