What is the Speaker's State of Mind in the poem "The Woodspurge"

Essay by emmanuel89High School, 11th gradeA, March 2007

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The poem The Woodspurge, is written by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, an English poet and painter who was a leading member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood devoted to reviving English art through medieval inspiration. Rossetti was critically acclaimed for the dramatic and supernatural elements in his work. Rossetti's later years were marred by sorrow and depression. In 1860 he had married a milliner, Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal. Within two years Elizabeth died, and Rossetti was grief stricken by the tragedy. In addition, he was troubled by a bitter attack that had been made on the morality of his poems.

This grief and desperation is evident in the poem The Woodspurge. After going through this traumatic experience, many critics believe that Rossetti speaks through the speaker of the poem. It starts of with the line: "The wind flapped loose, the wind was still", here the wind might symbolize how the conditions of life are frequently changing, that he is living in a very unstable environment.

Later in the first stanza he goes on to say that, "I had walked on at the winds will; I sat now, for the wind was still". It is clear from this that the poet has very little control over his life and he does whatever that was expected from him by society.

In the second stanza, for the first time in the poem we understand that Rossetti is in distress, "Between my knees my forehead was, My lips drawn in…My hair was over in the grass", this suggests that Rossetti was completely distraught. In the third stanza there is reference to his troubles mentioned above, "some ten weeds to fix upon", followed by the first source of salvation "Among those few out of the sun, the Woodspurge flowered, three cups in one".

There are two interpretations...