Formal Features of "Remember by Christina Rossetti

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“Remember” is a sonnet by a poetess of Victorian England, Christina Rossetti. The poem was written in 1849 but was first published in 1862 in “Goblin Market and Other Poems” by Rossetti (Petacovic, 2009). Rossetti suffered from ill health throughout her life (Shanks, 2010); she seemed to be obsessed with her death and therefore wrote several poems (“Song”, “The One Certainty”) exploring the theme of death. Christina Rossetti was only 19 when she wrote “Remember”. Scholars believe that the poem was addressed to her fiancé, Charles Cayley, though they later separated due to differing religious views. Written in iambic pentameter, “Remember” is a sonnet with Italian form. It is divided into an octet and a sestet. The octave (eight lines) rhymes ABBAABBA. As in most sonnets, the octet serves to set the theme of the narrative. The author seems to be informing the reader about her impending death. The sestet (six lines), on the other hand, has a rhyme scheme of CDDECE. This variation in rhyming scheme changes the atmosphere of the poem. The basic theme of the poem is that the narrator is asking to be remembered by her loved one but if her remembrance brings sorrow, she would rather be forgotten. Rossetti has employed simple words throughout the poem (Bennet, 2012). There are no visual details in the 14 lines. The author uses the phrase “remember me” three times in the first eight lines, almost demanding that she be remembered in certain situations. In the sestet the tone is very temperate. There is no use of imperatives. Instead, she states that it is better that her lover sometimes forget that she is gone and smile, rather than remember and be sad (Petacovic, 2009). Unlike most of Rossetti’s poems, such as “Winter: My Secret”, figurative language is used sparingly in the sonnet. There are three metaphors in this poem. The first metaphor is in verse 1, “Remember me when I am gone away”, where the words “gone away” are used instead of “dead”....
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