A Birthday, Christina Rossetti, Poem, Analysis, Summary, Themes

"A Birthday" by Christina Rossetti is a joyful and celebratory poem that expresses the speaker's exuberant happiness upon the arrival of their beloved. Through vivid and vibrant imagery, the poem captures the heart's elation, comparing it to a singing bird, an apple tree laden with fruit, and a vibrant rainbow shell. The speaker's joy is so immense that they envision a lavish dais adorned with luxurious fabrics, intricate carvings of doves and pomegranates, and opulent decorations of gold and silver. The poem culminates in the realization that the arrival of the speaker's love marks the birthday of their life, encapsulating the profound significance and transformative power of love.

A Birthday Poem Text

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 thickset 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 dais 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.

Critical Analysis

"A Birthday" by Christina Rossetti is a celebration of love and joy expressed through vibrant and imaginative imagery. The poem captures the speaker's overwhelming happiness at the arrival of their beloved. Through the use of metaphors and vivid descriptions, Rossetti creates a sense of abundance and beauty, emphasizing the depth of the speaker's emotions. The comparisons to natural elements like birds, trees, and seashells evoke a sense of vitality and vitality, symbolizing the richness and fulfillment brought by love. The second stanza introduces a fantastical vision of a lavish celebration, with exquisite details and opulent materials. This imagery highlights the speaker's desire to create a grand tribute to their love and the importance of this moment in their life. "A Birthday" is a lyrical and exuberant expression of love's transformative power, celebrating the arrival of love and the joy it brings.


  • The whole poem is basically the persona expressing their happiness
  • It is also a very possessive and self-centered poem in the sense that ‘my’ is repeated many times
  • Odd combination of using nature (humble) with luxury to portray happiness

    Split into two parts according to emotions
  • First part: 1st stanza (expressing her love in terms of nature/romantic and humble)
  • Second part: 2nd stanza (luxurious concepts but still essence of nature/snobbish)

    Stanza 1: The speaker compares their heart to a singing bird in a watered shoot, an apple tree with abundant fruit, and a rainbow shell paddling in a calm sea. They express that their heart is even happier than all these things because their love has come to them.
    Stanza 2: The speaker imagines a grand dais made of silk and down, adorned with various colors and designs. They envision carvings of doves, pomegranates, and peacocks with numerous eyes. The dais is embellished with gold and silver grapes, leaves, and fleurs-de-lys. The speaker desires such an extravagant setting because the birthday of their life has arrived, signifying the arrival of their love.

    Stylistic Analysis

    The style of "A Birthday" by Christina Rossetti is characterized by its lyrical and imaginative qualities. Rossetti employs rich and vibrant imagery to evoke a sensory experience for the reader. The poem is filled with vivid metaphors and comparisons, such as the heart being likened to a singing bird, an apple tree with abundant fruit, and a rainbow shell in a tranquil sea. This use of figurative language adds depth and intensity to the speaker's emotions. The poem also exhibits a musical quality, with its rhythmic and melodic lines. The repetition of phrases, such as "My heart is" and "Because my love is come to me," creates a sense of emphasis and reinforces the joyous tone of the poem. Overall, Rossetti's style in "A Birthday" is characterized by its poetic imagery, musicality, and emotional resonance.


  • Very figurative language
  • Simile: ‘My heart is like a singing bird/an apple tree/a rainbow shell’
  • Personification: ‘apple tree… Whose boughs are bent with the thickest fruit’
  • Hyperbole: Whole of first stanza is quite exaggerated – ‘my heart … paddles in a … sea’
  • Repetition:
  • First stanza: ‘My heart is’
  • Ending of both stanzas: ‘my love is come to me’


    poem is structure like a hymn
  • Enjambment is recurring in all of first stanza, and last two lines in second stanza
  • Rhyme scheme is quite regular with a few inconsistencies:
  • ABCBDCEC in first stanza
  • ABCBDEFE in second stanza

    Sound devices

    very few
  • Alliteration: ‘dais of silk and down’ and ‘boughs are bent’


  • Main three impressions are Love, Majesty and Conceit (being snobby)
  • Persona is in very a deep state of romance because his/her `love has come’ to him/her
  • Abundance of medieval majesty ‘with vair and purple dyes’; essence of majesty
  • The fact that his/her ‘heart is like a rainbow shell’ portrays an almost mystical image
  • The constant imperative tone (‘raise me/carve it/work it’); materialistic and snobbery
  • Suggests that her ‘love’ has given her a new life hence ‘the birthday’ of her new life

    Linking poems

  • Pied Beauty, Horses, Hunting Snake, Summer Farm: all related to nature
  • Summer Farm: self-centered
  • Pied Beauty: Relatively more positive whereas the others have a major essence of negativity
    Post Image Art

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