Line-by-line Analysis of ‘The Woodspurge’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The Woodspurge by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

1) The poem has been written to describe a personal experience, while wandering in deep depression. The wind in the poem represents change. The poem opens with an antitheses where the poet says that the wind stirred and yet seemed to remain still. This metaphorically indicates the absence of inspiration or change in the poet’s life.

2) He mentions feeling and observing the wind as a personified entity shaken out of the trees and the hills that surround him as he walks alone in the midst of nature.

3) The poet walks on silently, awaiting change and a way out of his depression once again. Here the wind being referred to is symbolic of the change he longs for.

4) The poet sits down not being able to find a way out of his situation.

The first stanza is reflection of the poet’s mind.

5) He sits down with his head resting against his knees, in the brace position. His posture is indicative of insecurity and a disturbed mind.

6) The poet’s description of himself confirms his frame of mind, with his lips drawn in. However, he discloses that he did not wish to grieve anymore. He sat low with his hair gently brushing the grass in a moment of solitude and despair.

7) The poet personifies the day with the ability to make a sound as it passes by. This loneliness is further expressed with the use of the words ‘naked ears’ and the auditory imagery thus created.

8) In the moment of depression the poet stares blankly at the grass in front of him.

9) He observes some stray weeds closely, growing wild among the grass.

10) The poet spots the weeds lit up by the sunlight. They draw his attention because of the sunlight on them. Sunlight is symbolic of hope and a new beginning.

11) In that moment of silence and with no other thought to distract him, Rossetti observes the woodspurge, a wild plant, looking beautiful with it’s three cup-like flowers held together by a single stem.

12) It is at this moment that Rossetti realizes that sorrow and depression need not result in some major lesson.

13) The poet feels that his observance of nature and the woodspurge in particular has a calm and soothing effect on his mind. He does not believe that grief always results in wisdom or profound memory.

14-15-16) Rossetti believes that the only lesson he learned that day was that the woodspurge is an often ignored wild plant that has beautiful cup like flowers held together by a single stem. Metaphorically, it seems as though the poet realizes the value of the body mind and soul, working independently but in perfect harmony, within.