Remember Poem -Christina Rossetti
Christina Rossetti: Poems Christina Rossetti Summary and Analysis of "Remember" (1862) Summary: The narrator, who presumably represents Rossetti, addresses her beloved and enco urages him to remember her after her death. She asks him to remember her even when his memory of her begins to fade. Eventually, the narrator gives this person (it is unclear if he or she is real or imagined) her permission to forget her gradually because it is better to "forget and smile" than to "remember and be sad."
Analysis: “Remember” is a Petrarchan sonnet in iambic pe ntameter, consisting of an ABBA ABBA octave and a CDE CDE sestet. Rossetti repeats the word “remember” throughout the entire poem, as if the nar rator fears that her beloved will not heed her request. Rossetti also uses repetition to underline the vast boundary between life and death, writing “gone away,” and later, “gone far away.” The “silent land” is a symbol of death, emphasizing the narrator's loneliness narrator's loneliness without her beloved rather, which is stronger than her fear of death itself. Acceptance of death is common in Pre-Raphaelite philosophy. Pre-Raphaelites believed that material troubles pale in comparison to the struggles of the mind. The tone of the octave is contemplative and reconciliatory on the topic of death. The narrator can finally be at peace because b ecause she has renounced her desire for earthly ea rthly pleasures, such as the physical presence of her beloved. She is even accepting of death, content to exist only in her beloved's memory. However, she has no t yet made peace with the possibility that her lover will will forget her; this form form of death would be more painful than her physical expiration. Even though the narrator seems to reach peace with her death at the end of the octave, the Pre-Raphaelite belief system demands a further renunciation of human desire. The narrator‟s tone changes with the volta, which is the b reak between the octave and the sestet. The volta typically accompanies a change in attitude, which is true in this poem. The narrator even renounces the need to be remembered, which is ironic because the p oem is titled “Remember.” She wishes for her beloved to be happy, even if that means forgetting her. The narrator sacrifices her personal desire in an exp ression of true love. "Remember" ultimately deals with the struggle between physical existence and the afterlife. Rossetti grapples with the idea of a physical body, which is subjec t to decay and death, and how it relates to an eternal soul.
Christina Rossetti: Poems Christina Rossetti Major Themes Buy Study Guide
The Pre-Raphaelite school of thought placed a high aesthetic value on the idea of unattained love, harkening back to medieval notions of courtship. The underlying belief was that unrealized love preserves an unsullied state of purity. A knight would co ntemplate the virtues of his beloved from afar, with the distance serving to further safeguard her virtue. This distance between the knight and his maiden could be voluntary or forced, but regardless, the boundary is impenetrable. Rossetti uses this trope several times: Maude Clare is separated from Thomas because he marries another woman, while the young woman in “Death‟s Chill Between” is separated from her beloved bec ause he dies. Longing for an impossible love creates an emotional image that easily lends itself to powerful art.
Gender and Sexuality The themes of gender and sexuality feature most prominently in “Goblin Market," but also surface in some degree throughout Rossetti‟s other work. Although Rossetti did not fully identify with feminism, she recognized the injustice that women faced every day. “Goblin Market” confronts the subject of sexual desire, which was taboo in Victorian England. Laura craves the taste of the fruit, but Lizzie warns her th at she will lose her youth and bloom, both euphemisms for her virginity. By the standards of Victorian society, women who engaged in premarital sex were considered "fallen" and therefore, no longer "marriageable." Meanwhile, in the Victorian era, women were just beginning to explore their sexuality, which resulted in challenging society‟s (read: men's) expectations. Rossetti does not explicitly mention the sexual threats against Lizzie in "Goblin Market." However, Rossetti would have understood the emotional toll of sexual abuse through h er work with prostitutes, so the implication is there.
Acceptance of Death Christina Rossetti's life was plagued with death. Her father died when she was only twentyfour. In addition, tuberculosis was common in the surrounding London homes a nd infant mortality rates were high. Rossetti's isolated adolescence and zealous devotion to the church led her to spend long periods of time contemplating human mortality. Accepting death is part of the Christian message, especially since Christians believe in the a fterlife. In addition to her faith, Rossetti's Pre-Raphaelite companions discouraged material wealth and earthly connections. Rather, Rossetti dwelled on intellectual and religious pursuits, contemplating the soul and the eternal hereafter. Several of he r poems reflect her rejection of physical bodies, most notably “Remember,” in which she instructs her lover to forget her so that he can be happy.
Renunciation of Desire Pre-Raphaelite philosophy held that the fulfillment of earthly desire was transient, if not impossible. Instead, the movement encouraged followers to renounce desire altogether, even the desire to live. This belief resulted in melancholy languor and lugubrious contemplation amongst the Pre-Raphaelites. Rossetti believed that the only lasting fulfillment comes from the acceptance of Christ, which will be complete at his Second Coming. She considered any other pursuits, like love, lust, money and fame, to be vain and fruitless.
Divine Love Divine love is Jesus Christ's love for his people, which Christians believe manifested itself when he was born as a human baby. Divine love is most evident in the nativity and the crucifixion. Rossetti grew up as a devout Anglican and e ven contemplated becoming a nun. She took religion very seriously and wrote about her existential experiences in depth. Rossetti expounds upon the wonder of divine love in most of her devotional literature, including “Love Came Down at Christmas” and “In the Bleak Midwinter.” For Rossetti, divine love gave purpose to her existence and a reason to continue living. Rossetti refers to the crucifixion, which illustrates Christ's unconditional sacrifice, in “Goblin Market."
CHRISTINA GEORGINA ROSSETTI (1830-1894) was a poet of EnglishItalian descent whose primary focus centered around romantic, devotional, and children‟s poetry. She started writing poetry as a young child, composing and reciting her own original poetry as early as age six. Rosetti‟s first published poem, “To My Mother,” was written when she was only 11 years old (altho ugh it was not published for several years). In her teens, Rossetti began writing for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood literary magazine The Germ, which was operated and edited by her brothers. Although she wrote under the pen name Ellen Alleyne during this period, it is nonethe less generally considered to be the beginning of Rossetti‟s public career. Rossetti published her first collection of poems, “Goblin Market” and Other Poems, in 1862 under her own name. The collection was praised highly by reviewers, but produced disappointing sales figures. Three more collections — “The Prince’s Progress” and Other Poems, Sing-Song: A Nursery Rhyme Book , and Collected Poems — were published in 1886, 1872, and 1875, respectively. After the death of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning in 1 861, Rossetti was looked to as Browning‟s successor, and her reputation remained strong following her own death from cancer in 1894. Common themes in Rossetti‟s poetry include death, gender and sexua lity, the sublime, tragic love, and religious doubt. A number of twentieth-century scholars have also analyzed Rossetti‟s poetry through a Freudian lens, looking for signs of guilt and repressed sexuality. The poem “Remember” was published by Rossetti in 1862 as a part of her collection “Goblin Market” and Other Poems. It is a Petrarchan sonnet with a rhyme scheme of ABBA ABBA CDE CDE and is one of her better known poems. The word “remember” is repeated five times within the poem, which expresses the desire of a (presumably female) speaker whose hope is that her beloved will keep her memory alive beyond death. The repeated use of “remember” and “remember me” indicate the strength of the speaker‟s desire to not be forgotten, although this forceful plea is relaxed a t the end of the poem when the speaker acknowledges that the happiness of her beloved is ultimately the most important thing. While most of the poem is spent trying to ensure that she will be remembered after she dies, the speaker realizes that keeping her memory alive must not occur at the price of another‟s happiness. She does not want her beloved to be sad that she is gone, but wants him instead to understand that the afterlife and a physical existence are two separate realms, and, moreover, to rejoice in the memories of the good times they have spent together.
Remember - Christina Rossetti [1830-1894]
Christina Georgina Rossetti was born in London in December 1830, into a family of poets and artists. She was the youngest of four children. Her father was an Italian poet. She was educated at home by her mother. Rossetti suffered a nervous breakdown at the age of 14. In later years this was followed by bouts of depression. She was close to her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and was linked through him with an art movement that studied nature. She lived a secluded life. She died of cancer in December 1894. Rossetti was one of the most important women poets of the 19th Century, Much of her poetry is religious, though she wrote some passionate love-poetry. Rossetti refused two offers of marriage because of religious differences. In her late teens she became engaged to the painter James Collinson but this relationship eventually ended because of religious differences when Collinson became a Catholic. Rosetti wrote the poem „Remember‟ when she was 18 or 19 and engaged to Collinson. Some readers of this poem think it is concerned with the nearness of death and the unimportance of earthly love. They say that lots of Rossetti‟s poems show that being in love tended to remind her of death.
Other readers think Rosetti wanted to end the relationship as her fiance was crowding her out, trying to control her. Also there was a growing religious difference between them as Collinson was about to become a Catholic. In other words, it is a poem about a woman‟s plan to regain her personal freedom.
There are two ways of looking at this poem. One way is to say it is a love poem in which the poet repeatedly asks her beloved to promise he‟ll remember her after her death. But at the end she says innocently that if remembering her causes him any pain she will allow him to forget her. It‟s a bit like saying „Think of me when I‟ve gone to heaven, but it‟s alright too if you don‟t want to remember me!‟ This first interpretation suggests that the speaker or poet has no sense of herself. She is focused only on the feelings of her beloved. In her mind, he is superior to her and her concerns. It suggests that the speaker or poet is spiritual but also simple -minded or even stupid. The other way is to say that it is a poem about the ending of a relationship. A woman imagines gaining freedom from her boy-friend. He wants to exercise complete control over her. Unless she leaves him, h e will own her!/li> It may appear that she is imagining her death, but really she is imagining the aftermath of the relationship. It‟s a bit like saying „Hey! Let me outa here be fore you completely take over my life! After I have left you, remembe r how you tried to boss me, but I don‟t care if you don‟t remem ber any of it! I‟ll be gone!‟ This second interpretation suggests that the speaker or poet has a strong sense of herself. Her boy-friend underestimates her. She is teaching him a lesson. Which is the more interesting way to think about the poem? Who wants to read a poem in which a lady dreams longingly of dying so that she can be fondly remembered by her beloved? Who wants to read a poem in which a woman plans for sweet memories of a relationship while her future husband just plans to control her life? Here is a detailed summary of the poem based on the second interpretation. The poem opens with a demand to her boyfriend to remember her after she leaves him. The poet imagines how peaceful life will be without him, in the second line. In the third line, she imagines herself beyond the reach of her lover‟s hand. Holding her by the hand may be a sign of his affection for her. But it probably means that he wants to keep her in check as if she were a child. In the fourth line the poet mentions the times when she already thought of leaving her boy-friend but didn‟t. She turned back to him instead. She was indecisive. But she is no longer indecisive. In the fifth and sixth lines, she again asks her boy-friend to keep her in his memories. But she is speaking in a sarcastic way. She is escaping to where he can no longer control her future life in the way he normally tries to. In the seventh and eighth lines, she reminds him again to just remember her. She taunts him by saying that it will be too late for him to brainwash her with his advice at that stage. She also says it will be too late for him to pray for her return or pray for her to change her mind. In the ninth and tenth lines, she mentions that if he forgets her for a while but then remembers her, it is ok! She mocks him again by asking him not to feel sorry for her — or for himself, maybe! In the final four lines, the speaker is very cutting to her boy-friend. She is aware that he is about to become a catholic, a religion that she has no tolerance for. The speaker compares his religious conversion to darkness and corruption. If this change leaves him with even a tiny memory of her current thoughts about her individual freedom it might make him sad. Therefore, it would be better for him to forget her completely so he wouldn‟t feel any regrets. But she says this in a sarcastic way.
It‟s a bit like saying, „Sure, don‟t let any of m y thoughts, or any thoughts of me, bother you after I‟ve left you!‟ If you want to skip this view of the poem and think of it as a poem about a simple girl dreaming of death then here is a different view of the final four lines. But if you like the view of the poem that you‟ve just read, stop here to avoid confusion! In the final four lines, the poet changes her mind about wanting beloved to remember her. She states that by remembering her death, he may recall her dark thoughts regarding death. If that‟s the case it will be better for him in the long term to completely forget her. The poet would prefer her beloved to have happy thoughts after her death. So she will allow him to forget her and smile rather than remember and be sad.
Love The poet after falling in love wants her boyfriend to promise to keep her in mind after her death. She already sees their young relationship as something to remember rather than to experience. To expand on this theme, just follow the early points in the summary and the very last point in the summary. Death The poet cannot be in love without thinking of death. Instead of making plans for a house like a normal couple today, the poet is planning the memories she wants her husband to have. She portrays death as a place of silence that you cannot return from. She wants to think of death as a spiritual state rather than as a physical process of corruption. In the final lines the poet, gives her beloved a means of letting her go after she dies. She wants him to be happy and forget her rather than sad because he remembers her. A woman’s sense of freedom
For this theme use the points in the second interpretation in the summary above. Style
Form The poem is a sonnet, a fourteen-line poem. Structure The thought structure follows a division of lines 1 to 4, 5 to 8 and 9 to 14. 1 to 8 focus on demands to remember, 9 to 14 focus on forgetting. The first eight lines of this type of sonnet are known as the octave. The final six lines are known as the sestet. Rhyme There is a regular rhyme, following the pattern „abba, a bba, cddece‟. „Abba‟, „abba‟ corresponds to the octave, „cddece‟ correspond to the sestet. The pattern in the sestet is less regular than the octave. This is because the speaker seems to rethink her demand about remembering her and suddenly announces that he may forget her in the sestet. The thought pattern is less simple, so the rhyme scheme becomes more complex!. Language The language is formal rather than everyday. The poet seems to control her language tightly. But the words and sentence structure are simple. Diction The only unusual word is „vestige‟, which means „trace‟ or „hint‟. Full Stops and Commas Full stops are a guide to the structure of the poem, occurring at the end of lines four, eight and fourteen. Imagery There are not many images in this poem as it is an argument rather than a description. Most of the material in the poem comes under theme and tone. One of the main images is of death and living in the after-life. There is an interesting image of a silent land that mean‟s either personal freedom or death. There is also an image of a woman speaking to her fiancé. Metaphor „Silent land‟ is a metaphor for the time after a relationship or the time after death. Contrast [difference] There is a contrast in how the speaker, a woman, and a man, approach a relationship. There is a contrast between the emphasis on remembering in the octave and forgetting in the sestet. Mood The phrase „when I am gone away‟ creates a sad mood, which dominates the poem. The reference to „our future that you planned‟ creates a new mood. Then there is a mood of accusation or even of ridicule in the poem.
Paradox [apparent contradiction] Though the poem is ca lled „Remember‟ and the poet seems to demand that her boyfriend remember her in the first eight lines [the octave], she changes her mind in the final six lines [the sestet] and encourages him to forget her. Tone The tone may at first seem sad as the speaker is imagining death. But after reading the poem a few times, the tone appears to be sarcastic. The speaker is mocking her husband‟s plans and ideas about their relationship. Repetition Note how „gone‟ is repeated in line two. List other words that are repeated in the poem. Assonance [similar vowel sound repetition] Note how the three re peated „o‟ sounds in line three appear to emphasise the sad mood. Find other vowel repetitions and try to state what effect they have on mood or tone. Alliteration [repetition of consonant sounds at the start of nearby words] There are some examples of alliteration, like „h‟ in line three, though they just occur naturally and are not there to emphasise anything. See how many you can find yourself. Sibilance [repetition of „s‟ sound] Note how the eight „s‟ sounds in the last four lines create a soft effect for the reading voice.