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Remember - Christina Rossetti

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Simran Randhawa

on 10 September 2015

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Transcript of Remember - Christina Rossetti

Remember - Christina Rossetti
"Remember"
The one word title summarizes the poem's theme of remembrance and the simplicity of life and death

Imperative verb - almost as if she's worried she will be forgotten (emphasized by repetition)
Language
Acceptance of death is common in Pre-Raphaelite philosophy.
By the end of the poem the speaker changes her mind; she says it would be better to forget and be happy as opposed to remembrance and sadness.

‘if you should forget" & "better you should forget" - turn the possibility of forgetting her into imperatives, just like "remember"
Tone
Nostalgic

Contemplative on the topic of death. The narrator can finally be at peace because she has renounced her desire for earthly pleasures, such as the physical presence of her beloved.

Even accepting of death, content to exist only in her beloved's memory. However, she has not yet made peace with the possibility that her lover will forget her; this form of death would be more painful than her physical one.
Structure
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.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
Love
The speaker dearly loves the man she addresses, so much so that, even though she wants him to remember her, she doesn't want him to suffer. This is why, at the end, she would rather he forget her, than remember her and be sad.
Death
"silent land"
-
euphemism
; love is not bound by physical boundaries; symbol of death & emphasizes the speaker's loneliness which is seen as stronger than her actual fear of death
"only remember me, you understand"
- it's important for her to live on in her beloved's memory, since she can't physically
"yet"
- understanding of whether he will remember her or not

"and afterwards remember, do not grieve"
- even if she is forgotten, she would forgive him because of her eternal love; she doesn't want her lover to feel pain and sadness, just to remember the good
Rossetti repeats the word
“remember”
throughout the entire poem, which emphasizes the narrator's fears that her beloved will not heed her request. It is an
imperative
verb.

Rossetti also uses repetition to underline the vast boundary between life and death, writing “
gone away
,” and later, “
gone far away.
” This also reinforces the growing distance between her and her beloved, emphasizing the boundary between life and death.
"better by far"
- exaggeration of the importance of his happiness - their love is powerful and strong and she values his happiness more than her own life
Christina Rossetti
"our future"
- suggests intimacy; things don't always go to plan
"turning stay"
-
oxymoron;
shows turbulent, mixed emotions
At the start of the poem, the addressee is commanded to remember. Then, they're told to 'forget'. This seems odd as the command 'remember' was emphasized: as the title, and repeated throughout the poem.
The shift - which happens in the
volta
- can be seen as positive. The speaker's final wish is happiness, for us, the living, so the poem has a melancholy, gentle but ultimately uplifting feel.
the strength of her request is modified by the word "only"
"
better by far you should forget and smile
than that you should remember and be sad
" - illustrates the strong love and how she puts her loved one before herself
the tone is sad due to her desperation of being held in her love's memory, but even if he doesn't remember her, she forgives him because she'd rather he be happy
All throughout the poem, Rossetti describes the importance of an eternal soul with remembrance and love after the physicality of death - which she is unusually accepting of - using the repetition of "Remember" all throughout.
ABBA, ABBA, CDD, ECE
rhyming serves to emphasize the overall message of the poem.

(ABBA-ABBA = octave
CDD-ECE = sestet)


Additionally, at the beginning of the poem there is repetition of the distance and boundary between life and death "gone away", "no more", "no more", emphasising the vast boundary between life and death.

However as the poem continues Rossetti no longer mentions the distance between life and death, suggesting how she is accepting of the physical not being there and being away from her loved one and choses to linger on the mental connection between the two that is not defined by either life or death and persists in the absence of physical connection.
Turning

The act of turning forms a key structural pattern in Remember.
In the first line, the speaker asks the beloved to remember. It is not until the mention of the ‘silent land' in the second line that it appears this is a euphemism for death. She recalls how previously, this was a topic/subject of reluctance, yet this is now a necessity that they both must deal with.

The Volta

In line 9, the volta (or turning point), the speaker's tone changes. Turning from the instruction to remember, she suddenly chooses to accept that she may be forgotten and declares that it would be far better that the beloved forgot and was happy than remembered and was sad.

A volta is a term that is used to describe the shift in ideas as a sonnet moves from the
octave
to the
sestet
. Often, the six line sestet presents an answer or a solution to the problem outlined in the eight line octave.
Metre

The traditional metre of a sonnet is
iambic pentameter
. Used here, the regularity of the iambic beat reinforces the sense of control the speaker attempts to establish over the matter of death and the beloved's reaction to this.
The consistent use emphasizes the progressive movement of the speaker's thoughts as she comes to a realization that she may be forgotten.
The enclosure of the rhyme scheme reflects the retention of a person's ‘thoughts' that the speaker describes as existing in the memory of the beloved.
By beginning with a CDD rhyme and then breaking into a different pattern, it emphases the shift of the speaker's thoughts.
Considered "Pre-Raphaelite"
a member of a group of English 19th-century artists who consciously sought to emulate the simplicity and sincerity of the work of Italian artists (from before the time of Raphael)

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 Pre-Raphaelite belief system demands a further renunciation of human desire.
- Christina Georgina Rossetti, one of the most important women poets writing in nineteenth-century England, was born in London December 5, 1830, to Gabriele and Frances (Polidori) Rossetti.
- In 1848 she became engaged to James Collinson.
- She was Diagnosed a recurring illness which was sometimes diagnosed as angina and sometimes tuberculosis.
- From the early '60s on she was in love with Charles Cayley, but according to her brother William, refused to marry him because "she enquired into his creed and found he was not a Christian." The broken love affairs are reflected in many of her poems, especially the sonnet sequence Monna Innominata.
- She was troubled physically by neuralgia and emotionally in 1872. The last 12 years of her life, after Dante's (her brother) death in 1882, were quiet ones. She died of cancer December 29, 1894.
Overall
The narrator addresses her beloved and encourages 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 her permission to forget her gradually.
"Remember" ultimately deals with the struggle between physical existence and the afterlife. Rossetti grapples with the idea of a physical body, which is subject to decay and death, and how it relates to an eternal soul.
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 break 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 poem 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 expression of true love.
Her most famous collection, Goblin Market and Other Poems, appeared in 1862, when she was 31. It received widespread critical praise, establishing her as the main female poet of the time.
In other poems a melancholy regret for lost love is mixed with a disturbing obsession with death. Because she suffered long and frequent periods of poor health, Rossetti came to regard life as physically and emotionally painful and to look forward to death both as a release and as the possible moment of joyful union with God and with those she had loved and lost.
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