Friday, April 11, 2014

Poem of the Day: "A Birthday" by Christina Rossetti

"A Birthday" by Christina Rossetti is the Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for April 11, 2014.  It is in the public domain and reprinted here.

A Birthday
by Christina Rossetti

My heart is like a singing bird  
  Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;  
My heart is like an apple-tree  
  Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;  
My heart is like a rainbow shell
  That paddles in a halcyon sea;  
My heart is gladder than all these,  
  Because my love is come to me.  
 
Raise me a daïs of silk and down;  
  Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,  
  And peacocks with a hundred eyes;  
Work it in gold and silver grapes,  
  In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;  
Because the birthday of my life
  Is come, my love is come to me.

A British-born lady of Italian decent, Christina Rossetti (1830 - 1894) (pictured) is considered to be a major Victorian Era poet, on a par with Emily Dickinson.  She is best known for her ballads.  Reference to this and additional biographical information may be found here:  http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/716.  Her poetry has been reviewed in Songs of Eretz before, here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2013/05/review-of-to-my-mother-by-christina.html and here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2012/12/review-of-my-secret-by-christina.html

The poem is divided into two octets.  Taken alone, the first stanza would make a delightful love poem--ignoring the title, it is only at the end of the second stanza that we discover the birthday theme.  The rhyme-scheme is an intricate abcbdcec fghgigjc with "my love is come to me" as a refrain.  The lyricism and rich imagery of things rare and beautiful in nature are gorgeous.

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