In the Bleak Midwinter

In the Bleak Midwinter

 by Christina Rossetti

 In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart

Summary of In the Bleak Midwinter

  • Popularity of “In the Bleak Midwinter”: Christiana Rossetti, a great English poet, wrote this is a famous lyrical poem about Jesus, his innocence and her love for him. It was published in January 1872. The poem celebrates the birth of Christ. The poet very artistically and vividly shows how and when Christ came into this world.
  • “In the Bleak Midwinter” As a Representative of Joy: This poem is written from the perspective of a young soul, who describes the momentous birth of Christ. She describes that Jesus was born on a cold night on a winter night, with strong winds and heavy snow. As she continues to describe the birth of Christ, she says that he did not appear in this world as a supreme being; instead, he chose a physically humble place to reign. She had painted a very realistic picture of those moments when angels and worshippers were gathered to get a glimpse and worship Him. The speaker finally speaks of her love for Him and decides to give her heart as a gift to Christ.
  • Major Themes in “In the Bleak Midwinter”: Joy, mother’s love and nature are the major themes of the poem. The poem encapsulates the speaker’s love for God and the arrival of Jesus on the earth. She explains various characters including, Mary and angels. One can feel the purity of her love that she decides to give her heart as a gift to Jesus.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “In the Bleak Midwinter”

Literary devices are tools that enable the writers to present their ideas, emotions, and feelings, using persuasive language to bring clarity and richness in their texts. Christina Rossetti has also used some literary elements in this poem to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been listed below.

  1. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /s/ in “Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow”.
  2. Enjambment: It means a thought, verse or clause does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it moves over the next line. For example,

“In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.”

  1. Personification: Personification is to give human characteristics to inanimate objects. The poet has used personification in second and third stanzas, “heaven and earth shall flee away” and “The ox and as and camel which adore.”
  2. Simile: It is a figure of speech used to compare an object or a person with something else to make the meanings clear to the readers. For example the words, “hard as iron”; “water like a stone” shows the harshness of the surroundings.
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /d/ in “In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan” and the sounds of /m/ and /l/ in “Enough for Him, whom angels fall before”.
  4. Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of a word or expression in the first part of some verses. For example, “If I were” in the final lines are repeated to express her desire.
  5. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Such as, “In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan”, “Angels and archangels may have gathered there” and “Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.”
  6. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /o/ in “Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain”.
  7. Hyperbole: Hyperbole is a device used to exaggerate any statement for the sake of emphasis. For example, “Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain”.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “In the Bleak Midwinter”

Poetic Devices refer to those techniques a poet uses to bring uniqueness in his text. The analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem is given below.

  1. Rhyme Scheme: The rhyme scheme followed by the entire poem is AABB.
  2. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are five stanzas in this poem with four line each in every stanza.
  3. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry.

 Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below can be used to describe any past event. These can also be used to adore the beauty of winter one had witnessed in the past.

“In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.”