Remembrance Summary

Summary (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

“Remembrance” is one of Brontë’s well-known poems, one originally from the world of Gondal that Brontë created with her sister Anne at a young age. This poem is an elegy, a sorrowful lament for the dead. Queen Rosina Alcona speaks directly to her lost love, the emperor Julius Brenzaida, fifteen years after his assassination, in yearning that does not recognize the limits of time and space. Such an emotional state is typical in Brontë’s poems, as is the simplicity and earnestness of the lines. The key feature of her style is repetition:

Cold in the earth—and the deep snow piled above thee!Far, far removed, cold in the dreary grave!Have I forgot, my Only Love, to love thee,Severed at last by Time’s all-severing wave?

Brontë repeats single words, such as “cold,” throughout the poem, insisting on their effect, but only subtly. When the repetition occurs in each line (“cold,” “far,” “love,” and “sever”), a resonance is established that expresses the unfilled span of fifteen years through which the speaker’s words must travel.

Brontë also uses assonance, the less obvious repetition of vowel sounds, as in the second stanza line, “Over the mountains, on that northern shore.” She uses alliteration to unify the speaker’s experience of life and death, sorrow and joy, as well. In the sixth stanza, “days of golden dreams” are tied to the “despair [that] was powerless to destroy” by strong consonant alliteration. To further the emotional effect of joy turned to sorrow, “destroy” is rhymed with “joy” in the last line of the stanza.

The pauses that occur at the ends of the lines are unusually long. This effect certainly adds to the resonance and feeling of words that must travel a long way, perhaps never reaching the listener except by the web of quiet persistence that exists in repetition. This is the memorableness of Brontë’s poems, that they linger like faint strains of music.