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The promised third post of the day, a sonnet for my observation of National Poetry Month. This one is from Christina Rossetti. It is similar to some of her other poems in being a wee bit morose, since she is pondering her own mortality here. As you do.

by Christina Rossetti

Remember me when I am gone away,
  Gone far away into the silent land;
  When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
  You tell me of our future that you planned:
  Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
  And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
  For if the darkness and corruption leave
  A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
  Than that you should remember and be sad.

Form: An Italianate (or Petrarchan) sonnet written in iambic pentameter, and rhymed ABBAABBACDDECE.

Discussion: I like this so much better than Mary Frye's "Do not stand at my grave and weep" - I can't even tell you. I like that Rossetti simply wants to be remembered from time to time, but not to give pain to her loved one with that memory: "Better by far your should forget and smile than that you should remember and be sad."

Although I note that the precursor for that closing sentiment is a bit ambiguous, and I rather suspect that Rossetti was addressing particular thoughts or ideas she held and had expressed to her loved one. It says "If the darkness and corruption leave/ a vestige of the thoughts that once I had,/ better by far you should forget and smile/ than that you should remember and be sad."

Where this becomes ambiguous is that we don't know what thoughts Rossetti is referring to. Perhaps her thoughts were troubling to the person left behind - maybe she said she didn't believe in heaven, or thought she was doomed to hell, or something similar, which would cause a person with different beliefs pain when thinking of her being departed and not in heaven, or in being departed and merely being worm food (if she didn't believe in an afterlife at all), or perhaps she's referring to something else entirely that she'd said that had given the loved one pain. Again, given her reputation as a devout Anglican, nonbelief in an afterlife seems unlikely, but I think that a closer reading of this poem indicates that there was a difference of opinion between her and her loved one on a point, the memory of which disagreement would upset the survivor. And she'd prefer for them to forget that disagreement.

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