Essay, Research Paper: Remember By Christina Rossetti


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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:
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 thoughts that I once had, Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad. I chose to write my poetry criticism
on the sonnet “Remember” by Christina Rossetti. It was written in 1849 when
Rossetti was just 19 years old. She is considered to be one of the foremost
women poets of the 19th century Victorian period. In this sonnet the themes of
love, death, and reaction to death are introduced. Christina Rossetti was born
in London in 1830. She was the product of a wealthy family and was raised a
pious Calvinist. She wrote about many themes ranging from love to the seasons of
the year. She used little visual detail in her poetry. She let her ideas speak
for themselves. She is sometimes incorrectly associated with the women’s
suffrage movement but she was happy with her place in life and furthermore said
that Christianity and womens’ rights were at odds. She spent the last 15 years
of her life in seclusion and died in 1894 a well-known poet. This sonnet,
“Remember”, is written to a lover and is about their love, her death, and
how she wants him to react to her death. The themes are alluded to throughout
the poem. Lines 1-3 deal with the element of death. Lines 5 and 6 hint that
Rossetti and her lover were to be married, showing their love for each other,
and lines 9-14 are Rossetti’s instructions that her lover move on with his
life and not dwell on her death because she would rather he “...forget and
smile...than remember and be sad”. Rossetti uses a metaphor in line 1 when she
states, “Remember me when I am gone away”, the metaphor being gone away
instead of the word dead. She uses another metaphor in line 2 where she writes,
“Gone far away into the silent land”, using the term the silent land instead
of eternal life. The third metaphor is found in line 11, “For if the darkness
and corruption leave”, using darkness and corruption as a metaphor for anger
at her death. Rossetti does not use many symbols in her poetry but in this poem
when she uses the term “silent land” for eternal life she may be referring
to her Calvinist belief in predestination which John Calvin himself summarized
by saying, “We call predestination God's eternal decree, by which he
determined within himself what he willed to become of each man. For all are not
created in equal condition; rather, eternal life is foreordained for some,
eternal damnation for others” (Institutes 3. 21. 5). . She may have said
“silent land” instead of heaven or hell because she did not know which
eternal life she was going to reside in. The theme and simple language work
together with the rhyme scheme, abbaabbacddece, work together to make the sonnet
pleasant-sounding. I think the beauty of this sonnet is that it is both simple,
in language and word choice, and complex, in idea, at the same time without
being too overwhelming to the reader. I think the reader finds this sonnet
easily applicable to his or her own lives, making it a universally likable
reading. I think that Rossetti wrote this sonnet to teach all who read it that
death is inevitable, but it should not consume the lives of those who are left
living. She wrote this sonnet to her lover that he should not be upset if, after
she died, he forgot about her because she would rather know that he is happy
than that he is, in a sense, dead while alive. We should all apply this message
to our lives because it is truly the best way to deal with the death of one we
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