Remember by Christina Rossetti

A second analysis: The sonnet Remember by Christina Rossetti was written in 1849 when Rossetti was just 19 years old. She is touted to be one of the foremost women poets of the 19th-century Victorian era. In this famous sonnet, Remember, the poet introduces the themes of love, death, and reaction to death.

Born in London in 1830, Christina Rossetti belonged to a wealthy family and was brought up as a pious Anglican. She kept most of her poems around numerous themes starting from love to the seasons of the year. In addition, she is also well-known to make use of little visual detail in her poetry. She in fact freed her ideas to speak up for themselves.

She is at times erroneously related to the women’s suffrage movement but she always liked and loved her place in life and believed that women’s rights were and Christianity at odds. Christina is also said to spend several years of her life in seclusion and bid adieu (died) to this world in 1894 as a well-known poet.

The poet has written the sonnet, Remember, to a lover. It talks about their love, her death, and how she wishes him to react when she has left this world or “Gone far away into the silent land.”

 

Remember Analysis

Lines 1-4

Remember me when I am gone away,

Gone far away into the silent land;

When you can no more hold me by the hand,

Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.

From the lines 1-3, the poet deals with the element of death and try to make her lover understand that he needs not remember her even after her death. She says that when she has died, she will go into the silent land from where it will be impossible for him to hold her by the hand. Nor can she come back from the halfway.

 

Lines 5-6

Remember me when no more day by day

You tell me of our future that you plann’d:

The above two lines (5 and 6) suggest that Rossetti and her lover should have got married so that they could show their love for each other. In the above lines, the poet expects a lot from her lover, and even suggest to him that he must not grieve over her death he cannot remember her.

 

Lines 7-10

Only remember me; you understandv

It will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while

And afterwards remember, do not grieve:

The poet further says that it is of no use to counsel or pray later, i.e. when she is gone. She says what if you will forget her for a while, and then pretend to remember her by grieving over her death.

From lines 9 to 14, the poet gives instructions to her lover by saying that he must go on with his life and should not keep thinking about her death as she would rather he “…forget and smile…than remember and be sad”. The poet here makes use of a euphemism in the very first line of this sonnet when she says, “Remember me when I am gone away.”

The euphemism here refers to the poet’s death. It may also be viewed as a metaphor when compare death with the notion of undertaking a journey. This is the journey that starts from one world to next, which, of course, relates to the main theme of the poem.

She, in line 2 of this sonnet, makes use of another metaphor when she says, “Gone far away into the silent land”. It is to be noted here that the notion of eternal life is depicted as a ‘silent land’ which hints at the lost connection between the dead and living, kept only in the memory that’s fluid, transient, and insubstantial.

 

Lines 11-14

For if the darkness and corruption leave

A vestige of thoughts that I once had,

Better by far you should forget and smile

Than that you should remember and be sad.

The third euphemism can be seen in the eleventh line of this sonnet when the poet says:  “For if the darkness and corruption leave”. In this line, death is viewed as corruption and darkness. It is like a body decaying. The poet here is very excited and says that he should not take her death and his subsequent memory as a burden to him. Therefore, she suggests that he should better ‘forget and smile.’

While Rossetti doesn’t make much use of several symbols in her poetic works, in this sonnet she makes use of the word “silent land” for eternal life. Here she might be indicting towards her Calvinist belief in predestination.

She might have also used the term “silent land” in place of heaven or hell as she is not aware of which eternal life she is destined to live in. This is just her assumption. The language of this sonnet is so simple and meaningful that the reader can also easily apply it to his/her life. The message that this sonnet wants to give is that death is unescapable, but it must not gobble up the lives of those who are still alive.

This is an amazing poem with simple language and a great theme. Both these features of it work in tandem with the rhyme scheme, such as abba abba cdd ece, thus making it sound pleasant. The beauty of this sonnet lies not only its choice of languages but also in retaining or maintaining a somewhat complex idea.

Rossetti had written this sonnet to her lover with the instruction and advice that he needs not be upset after her death. She advises him not to remember anything about her for she would rather know that he is happier than that he is, in a sense, dead while alive.

The message given by this poem must be applied by all of us to our lives, as well for it’s really the ultimate solution to handle the death of our near and dear ones.

 

Conclusion

The poem Remember deals with themes like love, life, death, and forgetting. The speaker (poet) in the poem envisages herself dead or departed and speaks to her loved one who is left behind after her death. This is a very simple poem with a great message that all of us should apply to our lives. It is written in a very simple language. The readers can easily access and identify. It is also a perfectly balanced poem, narrated in the form of the Italian sonnet where she bears a single thought with no unrelated detail.

The very first quatrain of this sonnet brings to us the subject of the speaker’s death and the painful separation of the two lovers. The poem has been written like a monologue directly addressed to the lover. In the sonnet the poet shows her urging her lover to remember her when she is “gone away,/Gone far away into the silent land;” The poet, as discussed above, makes use of a euphemism for death through the use of terms like “gone away” and repeats the same words in the second line to put emphasis on the finality of death.

Besides, the poet also highlights metaphors like “the silent land” to place distance between them. The speaker though knows about the distance between them, and knows that after death there is no chance when he can “hold [her] by the hand”. Thus, the poet ends her sonnet with the same first quatrain with which she started off.

Read the first analysis of 'Remember'

We enjoyed Christina Rossetti’s ‘Remember’ so much, we made sure two of our team of poetry experts analyzed the poem.
Read the first analysis
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  • Avatar Rathin Bhattacharjee says:

    The poem is aptly analysed. The extra information provided seems well-researched and useful.

    • Lee-James Bovey Lee-James Bovey says:

      Thank you for your feedback. Much appreciated.

  • Avatar jared says:

    Faze Up bois

  • Avatar Thomas Isebeck says:

    Thank you Elise, this is a wonderful poem on which you have shed some light.
    I value your efforts.

    • Lee-James Bovey Lee-James Bovey says:

      That is very kind. Thank you for taking your time to give us feedback.

  • Avatar lina says:

    hey

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