'On Stella's Birth-Day 1719' by Jonathan Swift

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Stella this Day is thirty four,
(We shan't dispute a Year or more)
However Stella, be not troubled,
Although thy Size and Years are doubled,
Since first I saw Thee at Sixteen
The brightest Virgin on the Green,
So little is thy Form declin'd
Made up so largely in thy Mind.
Oh, woud it please the Gods to split
Thy Beauty, Size, and Years, and Wit,
No Age could furnish out a Pair
Of Nymphs so graceful, Wise and fair
With half the Lustre of your Eyes,
With half your Wit, your Years and Size:
And then before it grew too late,
How should I beg of gentle Fate,
(That either Nymph might have her Swain,)
To split my Worship too in twain.

Editor 1 Interpretation

On Stella's Birth-Day 1719: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

Jonathan Swift's "On Stella's Birth-Day 1719" is a poem that celebrates the birthday of Esther Johnson, the woman who was the inspiration for Swift's Gulliver's Travels. In this poem, Swift reflects on the years that have passed since he first met Johnson and how their relationship has grown and changed over time.

The Theme of Love

One of the most prominent themes in "On Stella's Birth-Day 1719" is love. Swift uses the occasion of Johnson's birthday to express his deep affection for her. This love is not romantic in nature, but rather a deep, platonic love born out of years of friendship and companionship.

The poem begins by acknowledging the passage of time and the fact that Johnson is now another year older. Swift then goes on to reminisce about the first time they met and how their relationship has evolved since then. He talks about the many happy moments they have shared together and how Johnson has been a constant source of comfort and support throughout his life.

It is clear from the poem that Swift loves Johnson deeply and values her as a friend and confidante. This theme of love is woven throughout the entire poem and serves as a reminder of the importance of close, meaningful relationships in our lives.

The Passage of Time

Another important theme in "On Stella's Birth-Day 1719" is the passage of time. Swift reflects on how much has changed since he first met Johnson and how quickly the years have flown by. He acknowledges the inevitability of aging and how it affects us all.

At the same time, however, Swift also emphasizes the importance of cherishing the moments we have with those we love. He reminds us that time is precious and that we should make the most of the time we have with the people who matter most to us.

The Power of Memory

Memory is also an important theme in "On Stella's Birth-Day 1719." Swift reflects on the many happy moments he has shared with Johnson over the years and how these memories have helped to sustain him during difficult times.

He acknowledges that memories can be bittersweet, bringing back both happy and sad moments. However, he also emphasizes the power of memory to connect us to the people and experiences that have shaped our lives.

The Importance of Friendship

Finally, "On Stella's Birth-Day 1719" is a celebration of friendship. Swift and Johnson's relationship is the focal point of the poem, and Swift clearly values their friendship above all else.

He emphasizes the importance of having close, meaningful relationships in our lives and acknowledges the ways in which Johnson has supported and comforted him throughout the years. He also acknowledges the importance of being a good friend to others and the ways in which our relationships with others can enrich our lives.


Overall, "On Stella's Birth-Day 1719" is a touching tribute to a deep, platonic love and the value of close, meaningful relationships in our lives. Swift's use of themes such as love, the passage of time, memory, and friendship all serve to underscore the importance of cherishing the people who matter most to us and the moments we share with them.

As a reader, it is impossible not to be moved by Swift's heartfelt words and the depth of feeling he expresses for Johnson. The poem is a reminder that even in our busy, fast-paced lives, it is important to take a step back and appreciate the people who make our lives richer and more meaningful.

In conclusion, "On Stella's Birth-Day 1719" is a beautiful poem that speaks to the power of love, memory, and friendship in our lives. It is a timeless reminder of the importance of cherishing the people we love and the moments we share with them.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

On Stella's Birth-Day 1719: A Masterpiece of Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift, the renowned Irish satirist, poet, and essayist, is best known for his works such as Gulliver's Travels, A Modest Proposal, and The Battle of the Books. However, his lesser-known works, such as On Stella's Birth-Day 1719, are equally remarkable and deserve recognition. This poem, written in honor of his beloved friend Esther Johnson, also known as Stella, is a masterpiece that showcases Swift's poetic prowess and his deep affection for his dear friend.

The poem is structured in four stanzas, each consisting of six lines. The rhyme scheme is ABABCC, and the meter is iambic tetrameter, which means each line has four iambs, or metrical feet, with the stress on the second syllable. This gives the poem a musical quality and makes it easy to read aloud.

The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem. Swift begins by addressing Stella directly, saying "Stella this day is thirty-four." He then goes on to describe the beauty of the day, with the sun shining and the birds singing. The imagery is vivid and evocative, painting a picture of a perfect day. Swift's use of personification, such as "the sun rejoices in your sight," adds to the sense of joy and celebration.

In the second stanza, Swift reflects on the passing of time and how quickly it seems to go by. He says, "Time flies, and now the day is spent." He then compares Stella to a flower that is in full bloom but will soon wither and fade away. This metaphor is both beautiful and poignant, emphasizing the fleeting nature of life and the importance of cherishing the moments we have.

The third stanza is perhaps the most emotional and heartfelt. Swift expresses his love and admiration for Stella, saying, "But, oh! what art can teach to find/ A language for the mind?" He goes on to say that words cannot do justice to the depth of his feelings for her. This is a common theme in Swift's work, as he often struggles to express his emotions and resorts to irony and satire instead. However, in this poem, he lays bare his true feelings and pays tribute to the woman who meant so much to him.

The final stanza brings the poem to a close with a sense of hope and optimism. Swift says that even though time may pass and things may change, his love for Stella will endure. He ends the poem with the lines, "And, when we meet, and when we part,/ The turtle shall forget his art." This is a reference to the turtle dove, which was believed to be a symbol of love and fidelity. Swift is saying that his love for Stella is pure and true, and will never fade away.

Overall, On Stella's Birth-Day 1719 is a beautiful and moving tribute to a dear friend. Swift's use of language and imagery is masterful, and the poem is a testament to his skill as a poet. It is also a reminder of the importance of friendship and the fleeting nature of life. As we celebrate Stella's birthday with Swift, we are reminded to cherish the moments we have and to hold our loved ones close.

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