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Remember- Poetry Analysis
Transcript of Remember- Poetry Analysis
By Ben Mortleman and Siyoon Song
Analysis of the poem itself
Synopsis of the poem
Remember is one about love and death. The relationship in this poem is between Rossetti and her lover, or family member. She is telling them to remember her when she dies and not to grieve. Another interpretation could be that she's telling her past husband (who she recently left because of religious differences) to remember her. However, in the last few lines she contrasts her primary thoughts and tells her husband or family not to remember her as this could cause sadness.
Relevant Background context
She was born in London, December, 1830. She was born into a family of poets and artists and she was born the youngest of four children. Her father was an Italian poet and she was home-schooled by her mother. She had two brothers and one sister, and she was closet to her brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who was an artist. The picture seen in slide 2 was drawn by her brother.
She wrote the poem "Remember" when she was about eighteen, and when she was engaged to James Collinson.
She suffered a nervous breakdown at a very young age, and this followed with bouts of depression. She then later died of cancer in 1894. She is perhaps best known for her long poem, Goblin Market, and for the words of the Christmas Carol, in the Bleak Midwinter
A woman's sense of freedom
Form and Structure
Analysis on Language used
Links and connections between other Section C Poems
Table of Contents
A Petrachan Sonnet
14 line poem with a flexible rhyming pattern, with 2 ending lines as rhyming couplets
Starts with an octave and then a sestet, arranged as- ABBA-ABBA-CDDECE
The shift/volta represents a change in opinion, or the answer to the problem introduced
In poetry a group of 2 or 3 syllables is a foot. A specific type of foot is an iamb. A foot is an iamb if it consits of 1 unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. 1 line of iambic pentameter consists of 5 iambs. 5 sets of unstressed syllables followed by stressed syllables. This is where the Iambic pentameter gets its name.
Iambic Pentameter is a line with ten syllables, where each unstressed syllable is followed by a stressed syllable. This creates a TE-TUM rhythm
A few examples are:
But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
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.
Remember- Christina Rossetti
The line therefore sounds pleading, and shows the want for recognition. Though at this point the reader could assume of a simple parting between couples, the reader becomes aware that this is about death.
In the first line, the narrator gives a request to be remembered.
It is described as a "silent land," which is a metaphor which hints the idea of death to the reader.
"When you can no more hold me by the hand,"(line 3)
The reader is made aware that this is a physical separation. The lines that follow on then reveal separation through death. It is the loss of a loved one and about deals with missing the physical contact such as holding onto that person. This then leads onto the loneliness of death when you can’t share your dreams with a loved one anymore, indicated when the narrator says,
"Remember me when no more day by day,
You tell me of our future that you planned:"
Christina explores the grieving process within “Remember” after the shock and sadness of someone dying then there is the stage where the one who has died isn’t thought of constantly. The sadness and pain is still there but it isn’t as acute when it is forgotten for a moment. Even then she has advice for the bereaved person when she tells them; “do not grieve” (line 10)
The grief process follows on to the pain of thinking about a loved one and feeling pain because of the memories it evokes and the loss of them. In this case the narrator’s advice is to forget about her because she does not want the person to “remember and be sad,”
Brief understanding of the poem
An alternate interpretation:
We must also note that this could be approached completely differently:
Part of the power of ‘Remember’ comes from its use of the imperative to command emotions - ('remember'. 'forget') which normally we can't control, even in ourselves.
The phrase ‘future that you planned’ would seem at first glance, to prove that the poem is addressed to her parents, but she writes ‘our future’. The inclusive ‘our’ suggests a suitor or future husband. In this case, the intimacy also includes a controlling aspect: it’s ‘our’ (plural) future that ‘you’ (singular) ‘planned’ - in other words, someone else has planned out her future. If this is a relationship, the language she uses suggests she feels she’s being treated like a child.
On the surface, ‘Remember’ is all about death. The poem is written in the second person, evoking a relationship of some kind - of ‘you’ and ‘me’.
The narrator is asking to be remembered but ironically if the remembrance of her brings sadness she would rather be forgotten.
The turbulent feel continues in the line ‘half turn to go yet turning stay’. It's tortured: ‘turning stay’ is an oxymoron suggesting turbulent mixed emotions - further increased by the energy of the ‘ing’ word - as if she’s continuously ‘turning’ though she has to ‘stay’. In addition, there’s the polyptoton of ‘turn’ and ‘turning’, adding to the energetic sense of movement, frozen. If this is an evocation of Christina Rossetti’s own feelings, it suggests she wants to stay, and also to escape.
The relationship between Rossetti and the addressee seems intimate, but complex. In line three, we have the almost-tender line: ‘hold me by the hand’. We hold children by the hand: the phrase suggests, guidance and control. Tellingly, Rossetti is fantasizing about a time when ‘you can no more hold me by the hand’. There is an undercurrent of death as escape - of freedom. The greatest, almost-romantic attraction at the start of the poem seems to be towards that ‘far away’, ‘silent land’. She seems more attracted to death than to the addressee.
*Polypopton = Repeating the same root
in different forms
Ex. Me, Myself and I.
turbulent lines can be read as an articulation of the fierce pull of life, and death during a terminal illness. This may derive from the eleven years her father lived with bronchitis (possibly tuberculosis) before it finally killed him. If we do read the poem as a dramatization of her father’s point of view, then lines like ‘future you planned’ take a less sinister, more melancholy tone. He’s lost the desire or ability to plan - through depression and illness - and no one else need ‘plan’ for his ‘future’ as he has none; he’s dead. We don’t even need to see this as pegged specifically to her father; we can read it as a generalized expression of crossing the threshold into death.
Comparisons between different Poems