What are the the main figures of speech in Christina Rossetti's "Remember"?

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thanatassa's profile pic

thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Christina Rossetti's poem "Remember" uses several figures of speech. The most obvious is rhyme; it is written in the form of a Petrarchan sonnet rhymed abbaabba cddece. It uses the rhythmic pattern of iambic pentameter. It uses alliteration infrequently (hold/hand). It uses anaphora, repeated words at the beginning of sentences ("remember"). In a sense, the entire poem uses litotes in the way it refers to death as mere absences (compare Tennyson: "Come not when I am dead / To cast the foolish tears upon my grave…" which works by hyperbole). Rossetti uses polyptoton (repeating the same root with different inflection) in "…turn to go yet turning."

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teachersage's profile pic

teachersage | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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A figure of speech is a word or phrase that has more than a merely literal meaning. Figures of speech include similes and metaphors, irony, hyperbole and understatement. They encompass ways of grouping to bring added emphasis to certain words, such as alliteration (where grouping together words beginning with the same consonant lends them a greater weight) or rhyme.

In Rossetti's poem, she advises a beloved to remember her after she dies but not to grieve if he also forgets her from time to time, because, she writes, it is better to be happy than to be sad. Rather than use the word "death," Rossetti uses figures of speech that mean death, such as the "silent land," and "darkness and corruption." These are concrete metaphors that provide images of what death is.

Rossetti also uses repetition, repeating the word "remember" five times and beginning the poem with that word. Therefore, although the poet reassures the beloved that it is acceptable to forget her at times, the overall effect of the poem is, as the title suggests, to ask for remembrance. 

The poem also uses understatement, using simple images such as no longer holding hands to represent death and the word "smile" to indicate a happy moment.

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