The theme of imperfect love in Rossetti’s “Remember” is an idea based on the more obvious and often used theme of religion in her work. To a poet so devoutly centered on her Christian faith and love of God, the love of a man must seem second-rate, at best. A question, therefore, arises about her sincerity in the relationship she has with her lover— on one hand, she seems honestly to love him and begs him to remember her when she is dead; on the other hand, she appears a bit nonchalant in her willingness to tell him to forget her just the same.
In the beginning of the poem, the love between the couple seems strong, and the overtone of sadness and grief stems from the notion that death is about to tear them apart. But is this notion a fact? Is the woman really dying and, if so, how much time does she have left—a few hours, a few weeks, a year? There is no indication of a time limit, nor is there any reference to what she is dying from. All the reader knows is that the speaker is urgent in her message, and her message is based on love. But the last line of the octave, line 8, implies a higher love than the secular one shared by man and woman. Here, the speaker seems to tell her lover that once she is with God, he may as well not bother seeking help or praying because she will be far beyond his feeble and imperfect love. Only God’s love is perfect.
In the latter part of the poem, the woman relinquishes her lover from his duty to remember her, acknowledging that, still on...
(The entire section is 625 words.)
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