What is the theme on which the poem "Remember," by Christina Rossetti, is based?

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drmonica's profile pic

drmonica | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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“Remember” is an elegiac poem, focusing on the themes of death, remembrance, relinquishment, and forgiveness. The speaker is Rossetti pondering her impending death and releasing her lover from the responsibility of enshrining her in his memory because she fears it will cause him pain. She tells him that if he chooses to forget her, he should not feel guilty.  

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The theme of imperfect love is also present in Rossetti's  "Remember."  A very religious poet, Rossetti here seems to realize the imperfection of human love against that of the divine.  Thus, her relationship with her lover may not be as sincere as it first appears in the first eight lines of this Petrarchan sonnet. For, in the last six lines, Rossetti's attitude seems to change to one of nonchalance:

Yet if you should forget me for a while/And afterwards remember, do not grieve:

Rossetti tells her lover that the imperfection of their love allows for forgetting:

For if the darkness and corruption leave/A vestige of the thoughts.../Better by far you shoul forget and smile/Than that you should remember and be sad.

Also, because the opening lines do not clarify why the speaker is leaving--is it separation or death?--the ending lines seem all the more nonchalant if the reader considers that the speaker may simply be leaving.

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