What does nature represent in Daniel Gabriel Rossetti's poem "The Woodspurge"?

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Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s poem “The Woodspurge” illustrates minimalist vocabulary for a serious circumstance.  His images are botanically correct, and nature is the frame work. The woodspurge is a European herb with yellow petals. This is a sensory poem stimulating the sense of sight and the feelings of movement. 

The setting  is the outdoor world  where the narrator is pushed by the wind.  Finally, he no longer can resist the wind and sits down.  Where he finds himself if unclear.  He is out in nature looking for some relief from the ache in his heart. The narrator’s mental and emotional state are precarious. 

Rossetti’s images, distinct and precise, bring the reader into the scene. His language is plain and forceful.

The narrator’s problem remains an enigma.  His grief is all consuming but the reader never knows what it concerns. 

Thematic summary

The poet goes for a walk and has difficulty moving because of the strength of the wind.  Sometimes, the winds stop blowing.  As he sits down, the wind grows still. 

When the narrator sits down, he is so forlorn that he places his head between his knees. In his despair, if he were able to speak, he would say “alas”; instead, he says nothing.

He falls over so that he feels the grass with his head.  He lies there so long that he can hear outside movements and sounds of the passing day.

As he lies in the grass, his eyes are open wide; he fixes his eyes on a ten weeds.  In his sensitive state, he wants to avoid reality; therefore, he focuses his mind on the natural world around him [apparently even counting the weeds].

The speaker looks around and sees a few flowers sunning themselves.  One of the flowers was the Woodspurge which has three leaves that look like cup.

 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.

To the poet, his grief is perfection because it does not involve the past or even logical thinking.  From his day spent in nature, the only thing that he brings away evolves from the  image of the woodspurge with its “petaled cup.”

The ordinary aspects of nature help to fill the mind of someone whose grief overwhelms him.  The woodspurge has helped the narrator to find some respite from his exact sorrow. 

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Explain "The Woodspurge" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti?

Dante Rossetti’s poem “The Woodspurge” describes a man who has undergone some kind of trauma.  He seems inconsolable as he walks out in nature. Rossetti uses the first person point of view with the man as his speaker. His surroundings are not really the kind of comfort that he needs. On the hill it is very windy. The wind blows and then stops, blows and stops. The natural world serves as a backdrop for the man’s misery.  

The wind flapp’d 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.

As he walks along, the man is blown forward as though the wind was pushing him at will. He seems to have no will of his seeming aimless and passive. When the wind stops blowing, he sits down miserable and absorbed in his thoughts.

He gets down on his knees and bends over with his head touching the grass. His lips were pursed but he said nothing. When his ears touched the ground, he could hear the sounds of the world going by. The man’s posture as he leans forward on his head indicates his deep depression and mental state.  He does not say anything because he was too miserable to even groan.

His ears are described as naked as he touches the ground.  What he has heard has given him the sense of having no protection from the world’s hurts.  As he listens to the sounds of nature, the reader can almost feel his pain. 

The narrator looks around where he lay and saw some weeds.  He fixes his eyes on a flower that grew  out of the middle of the weeds: a woodspurge.  This flower is unusual because it has three cups, standing tall growing toward the sun. The narrator notices the woodspurge amongst the other weeds, and remarks that it flowers as “three cups in one”. 

The man suffered from a described “perfect grief.”  He does not have to have intelligence or even recollection to understand how miserable he is. 

His focus turns to the woodspurge which helps him not to think about his sorrow. Sometimes it is the most insignicant things that a person remembers when sadness overtakes him. 

Finally, the man connects to his surrounding by looking at the woodspurge. The man seems to change his attitude slightly because hopefully he will recall the strange flower and let go of his grief in the future.  

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