Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
The speaker of the poem, apparently Rossetti herself, imagines the time after her own death and addresses her loved one and tries to convince to remember her after her death which is going to separate them. She urges him to remember her in any situations. Even if his memory of her starts to fade away, he has to remember her. She strongly and possessively tells him not to forget her. But, surprisingly the speaker allows her lover to forget her in the last sestet. After the death, though forgetting and remembering becomes one of the issues, but for the speaker the ‘darkness and corruption’ of the era matters much now. If her beloved ones remain free from the darkness and corruption, and forgets her that forgetting is equivalent to the remembering. If her loved one does have pure thoughts, then forgetting is welcome to her. She if of the opinion that it is better to forget and smile than to remember and be sad.
Christina Rossetti belongs to pre-Raphaelite movement that focuses on art, music, painting, simplicity of the medieval era which was free from all the corruptions. The death is taken easily by these people. As the supporter of this movement, she favors simplicity and goes back to the past in search of the corruption free era, though indirectly.
The frequent use of the word ‘remember’ throughout the poem reinforces the fear of the speaker that she might be easily forgotten. Death is symbolized by the phrases like, ‘gone away’, ‘gone far away’ and ‘silent land’. With such focus on death, she tries to depict the irreparable distance between life and death. She wants to encourage her loved ones that if death separates them, then the only way to remain close is to remember. Here, she is not afraid of the death, but the feeling of the acceptance of death is found. She welcomes the death and tells her loved ones to remember her forever. But the twist in the sestet is shocking. From the beginning of the poem she strongly orders her loved one to remember her anyhow, but when she realizes that slowly she will be forgotten, she allows him to forget and smile. She puts one condition: the loved one should remain free from the darkness and corruption of the society.
As the poem belongs to the Victorian age, which is mainly marked by the mourning literature, it too has some features of that dominant era. In that era, people would mourn even for the death of the fictional characters of Dickens’ Little Nell. Queen Victoria herself mourned for her husband’s death for forty years. Rossetti too deals with the theme of death, life, mourning and continuing life, even after the death of some loved ones. She directly tells her lover to remember her at any cost as a form of mourning on her death. But her cleaver twist on the last part of the poem provides permission to the lover to forget her and remain happy instead of remembering and being gloomy on her death.
It is ironic in a sense that the title of the poem is Remember and the speaker by the end of the poem wishes her loved one to be happy and forget her. It is perfectly alright not to remember her if they are happy. The speaker sacrifices her personal happiness for the sake of the loved one.
Shrestha, Roma. "Remember by Christina Rossetti: Summary and Analysis." BachelorandMaster, 11 May 2018, bachelorandmaster.com/britishandamericanpoetry/remember-summary-analysis.html.