The opening two lines of Rossetti’s sonnet “Remember” introduce the idea of separation, but whether the speaker’s eminent departure is because she has chosen to leave her lover or because she is dying is not immediately clear. As the poem unfolds, the reader understands that death will divide the couple, and the initial hint of that is the phrase “silent land” to describe the place the speaker is going. The words seem to define a cemetery or individual grave more than heaven, and “silent,” in particular, implies a dormant state—an existence and a place that are neither joyous nor painful, pleasant nor sad. The opening lines also portray the speaker’s desire to be remembered, and she requests her lover to do just that. This request will become more significant at the end of the poem when the dying woman appears to do an about-face with what she asks of him.
Line 3 simply furthers the idea of the couple’s time together coming to an end, describing their physical separation when death will remove her from his touch. Line 4, however, presents an interesting twist in the situation. If Rossetti is writing only about the sadness of a loving man and woman being torn apart by one’s actual death, then the woman—the one dying—would not have the option of turning “to go yet turning stay.” The implication here is that the death theme is not the only one at work. Caught between two opposites, going and staying, the speaker reveals her uncertainty in whether she really loves the man to whom she is speaking. Her unsure feelings become clearer in the latter part of the poem.
In line 5, the woman once again requests that her lover remember her “when no more day by day” he can talk to her about the future he was planning for the both of them. Notice here that the speaker says “our future that you planned,” implying that she may not have given as much thought to staying together for the rest of their lives as he had.
These are the last two lines of the “octave,” or a sonnet’s...
(The entire section is 874 words.)