Study Guide

A Birthday What's Up With the Title?

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What's Up With the Title?

We won't lie to you, Shmoopers; we're a little disappointed. For a poem called "A Birthday," there's no party hats here, no presents to speak of, and—worst of all—no cake. Just what kind of birthday is this, anyway?

Well, we can guess that it's probably not a literal birthday. Our speaker's not really turning another year older here. Instead, we're dealing with a much more metaphorical celebration.

Make not mistake, though, a celebration is exactly what we get here. The speaker is loving life in this poem, calling for the construction of a tricked-out dais that would put most other religious furniture to shame. What's all the fuss about, then?

Our biggest clue—aside from all the religious symbolism (check out "Symbols" for the scoop)—comes in the lines "Because the birthday of my life/ Is come, my love is come to me" (15-16). Now, you can take this one of two ways:

Way #1: the speaker has found profound joy in a relationship with another person. She's so happy, in fact, it's as though she's being reborn in a figurative way.

Way #2: the speaker has found profound joy in a relationship with another person, but that person happens to be God. She's so happy about her relationship with God that she feels reborn in it, or at least she is recognizing that God is the reason for her birth in the first place. Either way, this is her way of giving out major props to the man upstairs.

Whether it's a divine or mortal relationship, one this is clear: this speaker's really happy to have this kind of love in her life. It's the gift that keeps on giving, which makes her feel like celebrating in the poem—good times.

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