A Singing Bird

It amazes me that after all these years I can open The Norton Anthology of English Literature (Volume 2) and quickly find the poem I remember so well. This is ‘A Birthday’ by Christina Rossetti. It is, like so much of her output, full of memorable phrases. It’s the one that starts off…

“My heart is like a singing bird

Whose nest is in a watered shoot:”

…and ends with…

“Because the birthday of my life

Is come, my love is come to me.”

I always wondered about Christina. She had three male suitors and married none of them. It has been suggested this was because of her religious views. However, I wonder if there wasn’t something else at play here. Her brother’s illustration for the cover of one her most famous poems, Goblin Market, shows two women intimately entwined. In the poem, the women are sisters, but is there a subtext? Why did he choose this image to illustrate the cover?


Illustration by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

By jenjsilver

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s