Christina Rossetti was one of the most profound literary poets during the Victorian age (Alleyne). The style of writing that she used was typical of many other writers during her time. Most of her poems consisted of a songlike use words and short, irregularly rhymed lines. Although she was known for being a devoted High Anglican, most of her work was not about religion. In fact, most of her work deals with the feelings of love, which is ironic because she actually was never married; the limited amount of men that she did have a relationship with were all short-lived. In the poem A Birthday, the speaker is revealing the excitement and anticipation that she has for the arrival of her new found love. In the first stanza, the speaker expresses these feelings by comparing her love to a number of bright and colorful things in nature that are full of life.
Rossetti opens A Birthday in lines 1 and 2 with the comparison of her heart with a singing bird. This first analogy suggests pure happiness and energy because the voice of a bird that uses energy to sing is usually a joyful sound with which one can feel a sense of happiness. When she compares herself to a watered shoot, which is also known as a sprout from a plant, she is implying that she feels as if she were just born.
In lines 3-6, the speakers heart is compared to an apple tree and a rainbow shell. The reference to the apple tree suggests a happy condition because the branches are so bent with life-bearing fruit. The rainbow shell in the halcyon, or peaceful, sea indicates that all is well with the speakers world.
The last two lines of the first stanza compare all of the natural items listed to the speakers heart all at once. These two lines tells us that the speakers heart is, in fact, in an even more happy condition than all three natural things it has been compared with so far. The final line of the first stanza allows the reader to infer that this feeling that the speaker is experiencing is not just because it is her birthday. It is also because the person she has loved has come to her.
In the second stanza, she abandons her attempt to compare her love with miracles of nature. Instead, she begins to talk about extravagant surroundings decorated with sensual materials. These items suggest that preparations be made to receive her love.
The first two lines of the second stanza, the speaker commands that a platform be built. This platform is symbolic of the new found height she has reached because of her new found love. She begins to describe how she wants it to built, saying that she wants it layered in silk and covered in squirrel fur.
In lines 11-14 she begins to go into greater detail about how she wants the platform to be built. The speaker wants carvings of birds and berries on it, as well as gold and silver grapes and flowers. These carvings on the platform are symbolic of her love. Unlike the singing bird, apple tree, and rainbow shell that was mentioned in the first stanza, these carvings, like her love, will never go away. These carvings will stand forever, just like her new found love.
In the last two lines of the poem, the full meaning of the poems title is finally attained by the reader. These two lines of the poem read, Because the birthday of my life Is come, my love
is come to me. The speaker is saying that the birthday that she is referring to is not her real birthday. The birthday actually represents the new person that she has met. Now that this new person has come into her life, a new sense of love has come into her life as well. The love that the speaker is referring to is the love that is given to her in return by the new person.
The poem, A Birthday, celebrates romantic love. In the poem, Rossetti expresses the joy that one feels of falling in love and knowing that they are loved in return. It is surely, safe to say that, despite never having a chance to get married, Rossetti definitely knew how to realize and recognize love. Her use of similes with the heart in comparison to nature shows how in touch she was with both love and nature. She also expressed this style of writing in many of her other poems. Her unique ability to capture the relationship between love and nature is part of what makes her one of the major Victorian poets of all time.