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The Woodspurge

Dante Gabriel Rossetti by Umar and Odette

A Little bit about the author

Dante Gabriel Rossetti was born in 1828 and died in 1882. He was also an illustrator, painter and translator. Rossettis personal life was closely linked to his work He followed the Aesthetic movement. Aesthetics studies new ways of seeing and perceiving the world

The Woodspurge by Dante Gabriel Rossetti


The wind flapped loose, the wind was still, Shaken out dead from tree and hill: I had walked on at the wind's will, I sat now, for the wind was still. Between my knees my forehead was, My lips, drawn in, said not Alas! My hair was over in the grass, My naked ears heard the day pass. My eyes, wide open, had the run Of some ten weeds to fix upon; Among those few, out of the sun, The woodspurge flowered, three cups in one. From perfect grief there need not be Wisdom or even memory: One thing then learnt remains to me, The woodspurge has a cup of three.

Mood throughout the poem

Theme is grief The mood set in the first stanza is a slightly dark one. 6 caesuras shaken out dead In the 2nd stanza, mood is changes to grief stricken Mood changes in stanza 3

Structure of the poem

4 line stanzas Unusual rhyme scheme (AAAA,BBBB,CCCC,DDDD) Generally 8 syllables in each line (with the exception of a few lines) Structured

Stanza 1
The wind flapped loose, the wind was still, Shaken out dead from tree and hill: I had walked on at the wind's will, I sat now, for the wind was still. Flapped

loose suggests freedom.

Shaken out dead is violent. It sets the tone Walked on at the winds will suggests that theres a sense of defeat and he has given up (on life?) as he is letting the wind determine his direction. Sat now, for the wind was still. the wind is like his commander. This tells us that he is mentally weak.

Stanza 2
Between my knees my forehead was, My lips, drawn in, said not Alas! My hair was over in the grass, My naked ears heard the day pass.
Between my knees my forehead was,- tells us that he is sad and grief-stricken. The

way the sentence is structured is foregrounding where his forehead is. Could resemble the way his life is going. (sentence is jumbled, so is his life). The fact that he is kneeling shows that he is insecure and when his head is in between his knees, it could mean that he is shutting out the rest of the world My lips, drawn in, said not Alas! tells is that words cant express his grief. It also suggests that by not saying Alas! He isnt giving up.

over in the grass tells us that he is distant and not all together there. When Rossetti says over in the grass its like he is saying his hair is all the way over there, suggesting that he is all over the place
my naked ears heard the day pass tells us that he has been sitting there all day listening to the world go by but he is staying still.

Stanza 3
My eyes, wide open, had the run Of some ten weeds to fix upon; Among those few, out of the sun, The woodspurge flowered, three cups in one. Tone changes. my eyes, wide open we can feel how Rossettis attitude has changed. He has accepted what has happened and is ready to move on. Weeds are hard to get rid of. The weeds in line 2 could resemble his problems and he cant get rid of the very easily, or they might keep coming back. When he fixes upon the weeds, he could be focusing on his problems. The tone also changes to a more uplifting one because this is the first time the sun has been mentioned. The last 2 lines of stanza 3 could mean that goodness can follow grief. The woodspurge bloomed in the shade. The shade could represent the depressing time that Rossetti is going through. The bloomed woodspurge could represent the goodness that follows his dark periods.

Stanza 4
From perfect grief there need not be Wisdom or even memory: One thing then learnt remains to me, The woodspurge has a cup of three. Rossetti says from perfect grief there may not be wisdom or even memory. This tells us that when you are grieving, you dont always have to learn something new. The caesura in line 3 (,-) is there to make the reader think whats next. It keeps the reader guessing what Rossetti has learnt.

In the last line, he states what he has learnt. The woodspurge has a cup of three. To the reader it may seem as if Rossetti has remembered something insignificant. Why?

Ideas

After Dantes wife died, he was very depressed. This poem may have been written around the time of his wifes death. (before/after) Poem might reflect his life after wifes death Poem could be about what he is doing after his wifes death A woodspurge holds its petals close together. Compare this to Rossetti. He might be focusing on the Woodspurge because he wants to be like it (dear ones close to him) (His sister and wife died)

Students Task
Heres something for you to think about: Did Rossetti set The Woodspurge outside for a particular reason? What statement might he be making about the relation between humans and the environment around us?

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