Bride Song: A Gently Worded Death Essay

“Too late for love, too late for joy, too late, too late!” (1). This is the opening line from the poem “Bride Song”, by Christina Rossetti. The poem is about a woman (“the bride”), who lived her life waiting for her love (“the groom”) to come for her. She died alone, never having loved another man, all that time waiting for him to return, however, he was too late, and returned only in time for her funeral. If you were dying, would you fight for your life? Death may be inevitable, but you do not have to accept it.

You can still fight, you can hold on just a bit longer. In the poem, the “bride” never seemed to fight for her life, but rather accepted her death. It was as if she would rather die than live knowing the love of her life would never return to her. Three major poetic devices used in the poem were symbolism, repetition, and rhyme scheme.

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One example of symbolism in the poem is “Now these are poppies in her locks,/ White poppies she must wear” (25-26).

The white poppies worn by the bride are a symbol of “pure death”, meaning when the bride died, she was pure of heart. The poppies could also symbolize “eternal sleep”, implying that rather than seeing death as ‘the end’, she (the author) saw it as rest, a sort of dreamless sleep, an escape from her lonesome life. There are several examples of repetition in the poem, the repetition of the word “crown” in stanzas four and six {“We think her white brows often ached/ Beneath her crown” (38-39) and also “Lo we who love weep not today/ But crown her royal head” (55-56)} show great admiration and respect for the bride.

This is also shown by the metaphor in which the author refers to the bride as “The enchanted princess” (7). The rhyme scheme is carried out through each stanza; however it changes slightly in the second and sixth stanzas. The overall rhyming of the poem tends to give it the effect of a song, which ties in with the title “Bride Song”. It also helps the poem to flow more smoothly. The metaphors used in the poem also helped to support the idea that the bride was lost without her love. The frozen fountain would have leaped,

The buds gone on to blow,
The warm south wind would have awaked
To melt the snow (17-20)

The lines above are a great example of how through imagery and metaphor, Rossetti indicates how everything stopped working when the “groom” was away, and how, had he returned in time, he could have saved the bride before she too, ceased to function. The melancholic, serious word choice helps to convey the dark tone or theme of the poem. By using words such as “enchanted” (7), and “royal” (56) when talking about the bride, it conveys a deep sense of respect. When the poet says that the groom “loitered” (3) and “trifled” (4), it shows that she (the author) thinks the groom was just wasting time, and he did not have a real reason for not being there, he was simply delaying. The repetitive use of the word “we” in stanza six shows that she (the author) was not alone in the anger towards the groom. The word “love” is used repeatedly throughout the poem, making it clear that it plays a large part in the overall theme.

The repeated use of the term “Too late” in the first two lines, conveys the thought that the groom was too late, that had he should have arrived earlier, perhaps he might have saved the bride from her dreary death. It also shows a subtle hint of irritation or anger towards the groom. The poet’s attitude throughout the poem changes depending on who she is talking to or about. When she is talking about the bride, she speaks with nothing but respect and admiration and care towards her. She has nothing but good things to say of her, referring to her several times as royalty. However, during the parts when the poem is directed at the groom, the tone takes on an angered or irate feel. It is clear that the author feels the groom is somewhat to blame in the death of the bride, perhaps thinking that had he been there she might have lived on, happier, or at least died with someone by her side. In the last stanza, when the poem says: Let be these poppies that we strew,

Your roses are too red:
Let be these poppies not for you
Cut down and spread. (57-60)

The red roses symbolize love, by the author saying they are “too red”, it means that the love was too much for the bride to bear, it was too strong. When the author says that the poppies are not for him, she is basically saying that everything was done for the bride, in honor of her, none of it is for him: they care not about him. The poem is rather sad which, in all honesty is why it was chosen.

Darker poems seem to have a certain beauty that other poems do not have, a certain charm about them; the pain and desperation they show reveals so much more emotional depth. It leaves you to wonder if it really was the groom’s fault for the bride dying alone. If he really left her, with a promise of returning, or whether, perhaps, she had been holding on to false hope all along, so desperate for him to return to her, that she blinded herself from reality, never allowing herself to move on, never allowing herself to love another man. It makes you wonder if she had let go of the past, if she might have found happiness.

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