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Winter : My Secret Analysis



Author: Poetry of Christina Georgina Rossetti Type: Poetry Views: 1295

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I tell my secret? No indeed, not I:

Perhaps some day, who knows?

But not today; it froze, and blows and snows,

And you're too curious: fie!

You want to hear it? well:

Only, my secret's mine, and I won't tell.



Or, after all, perhaps there's none:

Suppose there is no secret after all,

But only just my fun.

Today's a nipping day, a biting day;

In which one wants a shawl,

A veil, a cloak, and other wraps:

I cannot ope to everyone who taps,

And let the draughts come whistling thro' my hall;

Come bounding and surrounding me,

Come buffeting, astounding me,

Nipping and clipping thro' my wraps and all.

I wear my mask for warmth: who ever shows

His nose to Russian snows

To be pecked at by every wind that blows?

You would not peck? I thank you for good will,

Believe, but leave the truth untested still.



Spring's an expansive time: yet I don't trust

March with its peck of dust,

Nor April with its rainbow-crowned brief showers,

Nor even May, whose flowers

One frost may wither thro' the sunless hours.



Perhaps some languid summer day,

WHen drowsy birds sing less and less,

And golden fruit is ripening to excess,

If there's not too much sun nor too much cloud,

And the warm wind is neither still nor loud,

Perhaps my secret I may say,

Or you may guess.





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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

Dear me, a euphemism for pregnancy - as if pregnancy only lasts six months! This is clearly a poem about revealing one\'s love and affection - the poet wants to wait until she is sure of the affection of her reader before she tells, since she \'cannot ope to every one who taps\'. Furthermore, the physicality of \'bounding and surrounding\' and being \'pecked\' (she has clearly read her Donne) suggest her reluctance to enter any kind of physical relationship.

| Posted on 2012-11-16 | by a guest


.: :.

What if the secret is not an actual pregnancy but the speaker\'s ability to become pregnant? The winter, then, which according to the title is the secret would suggest the absence of life (in the womb) but the potential for incubating it as if under a blanket of snow. The imagery of ripeness at the end of the poem is the speaker\'s strongest hint at what the secret actually is; almost like saying that at childbirth you wouldn\'t need my hints anyway since the secret will be unveiled. I don\'t think she is actually pregnant because she maintains the the flirtatious tone throughout. A pregnant woman has no need to flirt, at least that has been my experience with my wife:)

| Posted on 2012-07-23 | by a guest


.: :.

I\'m studying this for AS too and to me the secret represents everything a woman has before she marries. As soon as she gets married, she will no longer have the secret which makes her desirable.

| Posted on 2011-10-27 | by a guest


.: :.

Has anyone else thought that Rossetti might use words and phrases which connote pregnancy deliberately? I think that the whole poem is about the power of language- of Rossetti playing with her critics by allowing them to make sensational readings (thus satirising the literature of passion at the time), but really evading all analysis.

| Posted on 2011-10-13 | by a guest


.: :.

nb. When a person is pregnant it is their tummy / belly / abdomen that gets big - not their stomach. Food goes in your stomach.

| Posted on 2011-06-27 | by a guest


.: :.

It is incredible that pregnancy came to mind to anybody while reading this poem. I am studying this poem as part as a lower division course (English 10C) for the English major at UCLA an upon discussion, it was agreed that there is no significant underlying meaning in this poem. People get so involved with the analysis of poetry and prose because they believe it is what they are meant to do, but that should be disregarded in this case. Rossetti simply created a teasing, playful, and even sensual poem describing the enjoyment of keeping secrets. The irregular structure of them poem adds to this playfulness, while her word choice (\"veil, mask, shaw, cloak\") simply add to the secrecy and then fun. Sometimes, as literature students, we take for granted that poetry is not all about double meanings and serious topics; authors write for enjoyment too.

| Posted on 2011-05-28 | by a guest


.: :.

It is incredible that pregnancy came to mind to anybody while reading this poem. I am studying this poem as part as a lower division course (English 10C) for the English major at UCLA an upon discussion, it was agreed that there is no significant underlying meaning in this poem. People get so involved with the analysis of poetry and prose because they believe it is what they are meant to do, but that should be disregarded in this case. Rossetti simply created a teasing, playful, and even sensual poem describing the enjoyment of keeping secrets. The irregular structure of them poem adds to this playfulness, while her word choice (\"veil, mask, shaw, cloak\") simply add to the secrecy and then fun. Sometimes, as literature students, we take for granted that poetry is not all about double meanings and serious topics; authors write for enjoyment too.

| Posted on 2011-05-28 | by a guest


.: :.

It is incredible that pregnancy came to mind to anybody while reading this poem. I am studying this poem as part as a lower division course (English 10C) for the English major at UCLA an upon discussion, it was agreed that there is no significant underlying meaning in this poem. People get so involved with the analysis of poetry and prose because they believe it is what they are meant to do, but that should be disregarded in this case. Rossetti simply created a teasing, playful, and even sensual poem describing the enjoyment of keeping secrets. The irregular structure of them poem adds to this playfulness, while her word choice (\"veil, mask, shaw, cloak\") simply add to the secrecy and then fun. Sometimes, as literature students, we take for granted that poetry is not all about double meanings and serious topics; authors write for enjoyment too.

| Posted on 2011-05-28 | by a guest


.: :.

I\'m studying english AS and we analysed the poem last week and decided that the poem is more like a cautionary tale. That there may not even be a secret in the first place this is just a distraction and a back drop to the actual meaning of the poem which is dont open your sole to let everyone know your secrets because people could take advantage and you need to protect yourself. We did not even consider the idea of pregnancy.

| Posted on 2011-05-22 | by a guest


.: :.

There is no particular interpretation which is right, no matter what level of education you\'re in (noting the people who seem to be claiming because they study it at uni etc. their opinion matters more). Pregnancy is the interpretaion I think works best. She does not want people to know she is pregnant, but in the Summer, she will not be able to hide her pregnancy because she\'ll have a large stomach and she will give birth. So in the Summer the reader will probably find out.
However, this is the interpretation I was told when analysing it in class. When I had previously looked at it I actually thought the speaker was a \'spirit\' or representation of Winter, and that Winter with all its snows covers things up and it will not reveal the secret which it is hiding under the snows, until Summer comes and melts the snow. Then, the secret will be revealed no matter what, but the snow may melt and there might be no secret. I also thought of the \'halls\' as simply being the abode of Winter during the Summer.

| Posted on 2011-05-17 | by a guest


.: :.

I used to think this poem was about pregnancy too, it does contain all the clues. However do you not think it sounds more like an animal? Hibernation? I was reading over it the other day (some people will disagree) but it sounds like a butterfly with the \"shawl\" and \"other wraps\" because butterflys do snuggle up in a cocoon to transform. Then they reamerge in summer which is the only season she trusts in the poem, \"some languid summer day\". Just a suggestion haha, good for A03 (wider interpretation). As someone mentioned before it\'s not necessary to focus TOO much on the meaning of Rossetti, it\'s better to see how she has constructed it.

| Posted on 2011-05-08 | by a guest


.: :.

In the second stanza the lines are also highly punctuated, this could mirror her slightly more defensive tone where she must guard her secret “Today’s a nipping day, a biting day” – from various things- people? Wind ? Pathetic fallacy? This rhythm with the self-protective like punctuation again links back to the fact “I don’t trust”- thus she is more on guard. The last stanza of summer whereas uses long drawn out sentences, with little punctuation and feminine endings e.g. less, guess, day rather than masculine plosive endings to give a slow paced, almost melodical-like rhythm- adding to the sense of ease and perhaps her secret has been dealt with. These feminine endings completely contrast with the plosive sounds particularly violent verbs used in stanza two such as “nipping” and “biting”- masculine ending such as taps and trust reinforce this- this aids in enforcing the juxtaposition in weather and narrators tone. The rhyme scheme whereas - Hope this helps anyone- its just a plan on an essay for structure for this, I knwo its not written in full sentences but no one on this forum has actually discussed what structural devices are used within this narrative

| Posted on 2011-02-24 | by a guest


.: :.

Rossetti\'s Christian self is personified through the use of the snowman (as mentioned earlier on), this is done through the references to cold, snowy weather - as well as the mentioning of Russia, a predominantly cold country (this also higlights Rossetti\'s theme of Capitalism vs Communism!). Snowmen, as we well know, can only physically last in winter. As the title suggests, the snowman is literally Winter\'s secret. Therefore, despite the fact the snowman will melt, he is still optimistic about the future (when he will melt). Rossetti\'s view is positive as good always comes out of death (melting of the snowman), as she refers to only airing her secret on the day of her death. The theme of pregnancy can also be interlinked with this via the fact the snowman is \'pregnant\' with life (water), and passes it on to the spring and summer by its own melting, which will provide water for plants.

| Posted on 2011-02-10 | by a guest


.: :.

Though the poem is left ambiguous and to our own judgement ultimately the most likely explanation is that the narrator is pregnant since as soon as you make this connection everything in it makes sense.
First the playfull flirtatious way in which the first (and begining of the second) stanza is written hinting at the side of the narrator's charector that got her in that position in the first place. Then as it goes on it talks about the seasons pressumably symbolising the reaction of the people around her should she tell her secret; March, April and May could even pass for the names of real people.
In the end the big clue is in the line 'golden fruit is ripening to excess' obviously symbolising the child growing inside her and then in the final line she says 'Perhaps my secret I may say or you may guess' suggesting that by this point the secret has become physically obious enough to be guessable.
The flaw you might say is when the narrator says 'or, after all, perhaps there is none' but this also applies since at the time this poem was set there was no way to be entirely sure that you were pregnant and the narrator may just have a had a few of the minor symptoms.
Then failing that consider many of Rossetti's other poems and the themes they tend to have and you can't say it doesn't compare well.
Hope this helped someone. X

| Posted on 2010-06-08 | by a guest


.: :.

I think it is interesting amidst all this to look at the form of the poem. It is quite irregular, and no two stanzas share exactly the same pattern. This I think reflects the entire feel of the poem - that it is self-consciously attempting to evade meaning and 'simplistic' analysis.
Stanza 3 repeats the same rhyme sounds as the first.
I see that the tone is coquettish and flirtatious, but I also see it as almost manic.
E. Parker :)

| Posted on 2010-05-20 | by a guest


.: :.

I agree with the post on reading this at face value. Ultimately, to try to analyse Rossetti's 'meaning' is to fall hook, line and sinker for the narrative voice's joke (or, indeed Rossetti's) and miss the point. The voice is toying with you, teasing, and revelling in the fact that he/she (though it has a feminine voice, in my view) knows something and won't tell. It enjoys hiding behind a mask, under its 'wraps' for warmth; it dangles this secret in front of the reader before finally concluding that it may tell, and it may not. The intention behind the poem is to leave us perplexed, trying to guess at something; whether there is, indeed, a secret at all is immaterial. It is beside the point. The enjoyment comes from play: look at the metre of it. Metrically similar to 'Goblin Market' in parts of the second stanza, it has the same tone.
If you are studying for AQA AS Level, my advice on this poem and WHY you are studying it is that the narrative voice is different again; another style, another technique - and that is what you should be writing about in the exam, rather than overlooking the face value in search of 'meaning' that may or may not exist.

| Posted on 2010-02-23 | by a guest


.: :.

I am an English and Creative Writing student at University and we studied this poem last week for our Critical Theory/Textual Practice module. We have been looking into perception and how we contemplate things. What are words? Does language shape us or do we shape language?
A few people in the lecture thought it to be about pregnancy: perhaps the termination of it, perhaps deciding whether to tell the reader/listener. Many of you have read it in that way. I enjoyed the taunt interpretations, she really does appear to be toying with the reader. I love it, I think it so clever.
My friend was rather amusingly convinced he (the narrator) is a snowman, although it could be a snowwoman. He had good reasoning behind it.
I believe it to be about the secret to life; the world; our existance. I read it as the narrator saying that we do not know what the answer is; many of us believe we know more, but it is not 'common knowledge'.
Our lecturer had been talking about critics and how whenever they see a poem that have to decifer it and write meaning all over it: he rather comically said Rosetti could have written to get back at them and mock-quoted, "Hah! Read this you *s".

| Posted on 2010-02-10 | by a guest


.: :.

I've just read all your comments and am studying english lit AS. Our classed explored this poem in a completely different way, not even considering pregnancy. We thought that the speaker was God as Christian Rossetti is a devout christian. It could be seen as God teasing an agnostic or a doubtful christian. Rossetti must be comparing this to winter suggesting that she likes the discipline and endurance required to live through winter. spring and all the other seasons symbolise fleeting happiness whereas winter is a better truer test of faith. The whole idea of the seasons could represent life as well, with winter being the end and death. Winter is also found at the start of the year, or new life, indicating some kind of connection with God that we have at the beginning and the end of our lives.
the poem highlights the power of being an enigma and how that allows the speaker to tease and mock the reader or the questioner.

| Posted on 2010-01-24 | by a guest


.: :.

I've just read all your comments and am studying english lit AS. Our classed explored this poem in a completely different way, not even considering pregnancy. W thought that the speaker was God as Christian Rossetti is a devout christian. it could be seens as God teasing an agnostic or a doubtful christian.

| Posted on 2010-01-24 | by a guest


.: :.

although the idea of pregnancy or a realtionship between someone could be interpreted, i took the poem as what it was.
i thought the poem was about the fact that she is about to tell the reader her secret but she keeps postponing as the conditions arent right (the third stanza). she then says she mihgt tell on 'some languid summer day' but the secret is never told and th ereader is left in suspense.
The narrator in this case, is toying with the reader, saying that she has a secret but doesnt tell in the end. This presents a sense of empowerment, where the narrator is in control here.

| Posted on 2009-12-13 | by a guest


.: :.

im doing this poem for as english. in my group we discussed the idea that the person in the poem could be a man or women to see this you have to read through the poem thinking that it could be a man then try and interpret it into the poem.

| Posted on 2009-11-14 | by a guest


.: :.

The pregnancy idea works, but I think we need to give Rossetti more credit than that. She is a woman but more importantly she is a poet, and I do not think that she would want her topic to be so narrowly confined. Yes, the poem is coquetish and flirty, and it definitely has a feminine voice, but I saw many more general philosophic concerns about the human condition.
Spring is a time of rebirth--maybe she doesn't trust spring because she is struggling with the idea of an afterlife existing. Keats thinks about that too, and as someone noted, there is a correlation between Keats and Rossetti.
Nietzsche wrote that everything profound wears a mask. I think that Rossetti is talking about a secret as a mask--yes, she can be referring to an intimate relation with a man-- but more importantly I think she is talking about the barriers that exist between any and every two individuals. The inner world and the outer world. And the inner world is unattainable for an outsider. It's simply impossible, and she notices that and I think she's asking herself why we even have the assumption and hope of intimacy.
I especially love her lines, "You would not peck? I thank you for good will, / Believe, but leave the truth untested still." She wants to have intimacy, and she knows that other want it to (good will), but she is wise enough to recognize that even when one does not mean to cause hurt but means only to have intimacy, it may be inevitable that it ends in failure.
And what is this secret, anyways? It could be the mystery of individuality, the mystery of our own perceptions and understanding of our life that cannot be communicated to another human being. And the existence of individuality and alienation, we know, is no secret at all.

| Posted on 2009-07-31 | by a guest


.: :.

I think this poem is based around a sexual relationship as it has a teasing playful tone, it is as though the voice is protecting herself from intimacy and vulnrability, I wear my mask for warmpth, the voice is hiding behind her virginity as it protects her and is comforting to her. The narrator writes as if she is scared that if she ope to everyone who taps she will lose her mystery which captivates and teases men, to do this the narrator describes layers of clothes, shawl . . cloak, and other wraps. In the third stanza I get the impression that the narrator is afraid that if she reveals everything to a man they will be dissappointed and become bored, she expresses this through the changing seasons, I do not trust march with its peck of dust every month that she describes are rapidly changing like April with its rainbrow crowned brief showers, although the relationships she could have will be rainbow crowned beautiful and exciting, she is afraid that they will only be brief. The narrator describes how May, whose flowers/ One frost may wither through the sunless hours. She is afraid that love will die when the initial passion and excitement is over and the sunless hours of the relationship appear. At the end of the poem the narrator decides to continue to tease men, keeping herself wanted and desired but never opeining up to, or allowing herself to be vulnerable with anyone. We begin to wonder if there ever was a secret or whether her secret was another device to tease and captivate men; Perhapy my secret I may say,/ or you may guess.

| Posted on 2009-05-19 | by a guest


.: :.

Have been doing this in English AS and my teacher said that she thought it was something like how in Victorian times you were expected to behave in a certain way, even more so than now, and everyone's life is a secret, she wants the person she's talking to to guess her secret but is also afraid of the reprimands of the time she lived in, she doesnt want to be hurt. So she suggests that she might open up once she knows she can trust him better ... not sure its a really difficult one, i like the idea of the pregnancy, someone in my class wrote about that, my teacher disagreed but she got full marks because she could back it up....

| Posted on 2009-05-19 | by a guest


.: :.

I think this poem is supposed to be ambiguous, i don't think you can decide what the secret actually is. I think Rossetti wrote it for little reason, the original title was "nonsense". It could possibly sum up the ambiguity of all her poems, for example everybody is always trying to guess the meaning behind Goblin Market, but "perhaps there's none". It has a playful tone and teases the reader so that they think there definately is a secret.

| Posted on 2009-05-10 | by a guest


.: :.

Im doing this for AS and this is what i have got. I didnt really think about the pregnancy idea until it was mentioned and i think thats very clever. what i found was that at the same time period that this was happening, and this could just be a coincidence, many of the russian royalty were being murdered and overthrown, however one of them wasn't found, either alesandra or alexandra or something like that, and i got the impression that this woman is in hiding, i know its a woman because she is wearing a shawl. It also mentions russia and snow (the weather in russia). I thought about the summertime (last stanza) and maybe its saying that she will never reveal her secret (in essence she is saying that she will reveal her secret [that she is actually a princess in hiding] when pigs fly, which is never.)

| Posted on 2009-05-07 | by a guest


.: :.

The poem has allusions to Keat's odes to a Nightinale and Autumn in the last stanza which reflect on acts of poetic creativity. Huge subject in Victorian times- read John Ruskin 'On Art and Life'. However, the 'fallen' woman fits in nicely with the reoccuring themes throughout many of Rossetti's poems.

| Posted on 2009-04-30 | by a guest


.: :.

i think that the women in this poem might be pregnant as she is hiding her self, and when she talks about the months that she don't like, maybe thats the time when she doesnot give birth. :)

| Posted on 2009-04-30 | by a guest


.: :.

'I got this poem to discuss at an English interview at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University. I hadn't a clue what to say!'
See! A-levels arent getting any easier, we have to do this (and some other poems by rosetti) for our AS exams. Basically, i've gone on about rhetorical questions...for a page. They draw the reader in, involve them etc. uneven paras make it seem random, strange rhyme increases this yet also gives it structure.

| Posted on 2009-02-05 | by a guest


.: :.

It is a poem about a pregant Victorian woman who must conceal her "secret" for society for fear of reprimand.
"I cannot ope to everyone who taps,
And let the draughts come whistling thro' my hall"
is a metaphor for the constant questions, of which she cannot answer all as people's reactions and gossip will be as the second line suggests. The Winter discussed in the poem suggests both a cold world and the passing of seasons, one should note that nine months is passed from beginning to end to symbolise a pregnancy. The lines, "Or, after all, perhaps there's none:
Suppose there is no secret after all"
further suggect a pregnancy as the are allowing for the case of a miscarriage.
One could also assume that the man with whom she is speaking is the father or a dear friend, as she writes, "Perhaps my secret I may say,
Or you may guess." (which also accentuates the idea of a pregnancy)

| Posted on 2009-02-04 | by a guest


.: :.

see "christina rossetti and the doctrine of reserve" note 41 and the corresponding text

| Posted on 2009-01-06 | by a guest


.: :.

I got this poem to discuss at an English interview at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University. I hadn't a clue what to say!

| Posted on 2008-12-12 | by a guest


.: :.

i get the impression that christina rossetti's poem winter: my secret is a story of, maybe herself or a fictional character, who hides herslf away from lovers and love so she doesnt get hurt think this because she says ' i wear my mask for warmth' and 'wraps and all'
she talks about being astounded by the winds 'buffeting her' is it actually men after a lover ? and s the secret that is hers the secret to her heart which she is not ready to give away to just anyone it has to be perfect and the man she gives it to must also be perfect as in summer.
spring wouldnt work because as she says about the frost and the flowers it is easily detroyed and ruined. so she seeks stability too.

| Posted on 2008-12-11 | by a guest


.: :.

could someone PLEASE analyse this. i dont get it at all. i have a vague idea, but i need to know another opinion. i've looked EVERYWHERE for an analysis. Is this poem a taboo or something? please help. someone out there? Anyone? p^^q

| Posted on 2008-11-25 | by a guest




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