Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“Remembrance” is not so much a poem about death as it is about the eternal hopelessness of its acceptance. Death cannot be undone; its repercussions cannot be altered, and its totality cannot be mitigated. Its reality continues to affect her own life to the extent that the poet claims that the tomb of her love is more hers than his. “Remembrance” disputes and denies the common idea that time heals all wounds. Herein, the poet is fixated in a time that shows little if any movement onward, even as she recognizes the irrevocability of its—and her own—passing. Life does not go on: Life has stopped.

The persona of the poem records her fifteen years of effort to accept and live with the death of her love. She cannot forget him; she cannot turn to another. She cannot, consequently, live again meaningfully in the world around her. The only apparent reality is her memory, which still controls and dominates not only her thoughts and feelings but also her actions. Intellectually, the poet knows the error of her ways. She recognizes the futility of worshiping cold snow, and she knows that the distance in time of fifteen years should afford her some relief. One aspect of her nature truly wants to overcome his loss and to redefine her existence as one in which “change and suffering” are not the only constants. Such dreams, though, can only perish. She remains entrapped in a life of union with one dead, and inescapably so.

Arguably, the...

(The entire section is 579 words.)