“The Woodspurge” and “A Birthday” Compare and Contrast Essay

Christina Rossetti’s “A Birthday” and Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s “The Woodspurge” describe two emotions that are at opposite ends of the spectrum. In, “A Birthday”, the narrator expresses her sheer bliss and happiness of finding her love. On the other hand, “The Woodspurge”, illustrates the darkness that grief can bring into your life, no matter the reason. The authors of these compositions were, in fact, family. Brother and sister to be exact. Christina Rossetti’s “A Birthday” is begins with the declaration “My heart is like a singing bird…”.

This statement creates very strong imagery for the readers and sets the mood of the poem straight away. The diction that Miss Rossetti uses is very complex and is a mixture of manmade and nature related definitions. The word choice is also very symbolic. Each line is consumed with hidden meanings, i. e. “My heart is like an apple tree/ Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit”. The symbolism has many interpretations, i. e. “Carve it in doves and pomegranates” has many different meanings.

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Two of the most common, fertility and death, have two very opposite emotions that are attached to them. Fertility is thought of with joy and means for celebration, while death is unwelcomed and means for grief. The two stanzas of the poem have some major distinctions. The first stanza focuses on using nature related diction and imagery, while the second uses words that represent man made luxuries and general opinions. Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s “The Woodspurge” is describes a grief stricken narrator in an outdoor setting.

When the poem begins, the narrator is wandering in whatever direction the wind blows him, until the wind stops and he sits down. He sits there until he opens his eyes and there are weeds within his view. Among them, he sees a Woodspurge and it leaves a lasting impression on him. Mr. Gabriel uses very simple diction, but the order in which he puts them is complex. The words are monosyllabic and monotonous, which goes along with the mood of the poem. The mood is found, from this, to be very depressing and dull. Mr. Rossetti kept the rhyme scheme very plain and uncomplicated.

The entire poem takes place outdoors and stays in the background until the third and fourth paragraph. Although the source of his grief is never specified, the poem was written during a very anguished time of the poet’s life. Despite being family, Mr. and Miss Rossetti’s writing is very opposite in many ways. Christina Rossetti’s work is brimming with expression and literary devices, while her brothers is the opposite because it is very monotone and devoid of any literary devices. “A Birthday” is describing the joy you feel when you finally find your love.

There is a multitude of imagery that is positive and appeals to the senses. “The Woodspurge” uses words that are dull and unimaginative that creates world-weary emotions. They are both very alike though, in the sense that they both focus on human emotion. “The Woodspurge”, while seemingly unemotional, does have it. Emotion is connected with everything we do, every decision we make, and the way we react to things. Grief is an emotion that, although uninvited, is something that everyone experiences at some time or another.