"Remember" is a poem written by Christina Rossetti. She wrote it in the year 1849. In 1862, she published it, along with other works of her, in the book Goblin Market.
"Remember" is categorized as a sonnet. As such, it is composed of fourteen lines and written in iambic pentameter. The poem follows the typical form of a Petrarchan sonnet in its rhyme scheme and contextual structure. The first eight lines follow an ABBA rhyme scheme, standard for sonnets of this form. The rhyme scheme of the remaining lines is different, following with CDD and EFE. After the first eight lines, it reaches a shift in direction. This is marked not only by the content of the lines but also by the use of the word "yet" in the ninth line.
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
From the first two lines, it is evident the speaker (henceforth referred to with feminine pronouns) of the poem will be addressing the topic of her own death. The first occurrence of this comes from the poem’s very first line, in which she talks about being "gone away." In combination with the "silent land" mentioned in the second line, the reader can deduce she is not referring to a trip. Additionally, she is asking to be remembered, something people commonly hope for when their Earthly time comes to an end.
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
The speaker reiterates her imminent death in these lines. She also continues with the sentiment of being connected to her beloved. Holding hands is something often done, and cherished, by two people in a relationship. If she has passed away, her beloved will no longer be able to do this. The next line seems to refer to her being close to death but wanting to stay in life. Whether it be for just a moment or longer, she likely wants to stay with her significant other longer.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
In these lines, the speaker asks her beloved not to forget her even when a future together can no longer be planned. She does not want to remain in the past, forgotten. The mention of "day by day" demonstrates the closeness between the speaker and her beloved. Those words show how involved they are in one another’s life. She would not want that all to disappear and become a faint memory.
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
The speaker specifies the memory of her is what ultimately matters. There will come a time when nothing her love can do or say will make a difference. In other words, her death is imminent. She wants the focus to be directed on having her live on, in a sense, through remembrance.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
The speaker is taking the time to show she cares about the well being of the person she has addressed the entire poem. While she has made clear her desire to be remembered, she is also aware of her beloved’s feelings. She knows there may be moments she will not be thought about as much or at all. She says, "do not grieve" over this. This means the object of her affection, presumably a romantic partner, does not need to feel guilty if and when this happens. This, in turn, lessens any burden on the remaining partner.
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
The "darkness and corruption" may be in reference to her passing and the pain associated with it. It is unbearably difficult time to lose a loved one, something the speaker is well aware of. Though she hopes she will not be forgotten, she does not want her beloved to feel anxiety over remembering her. A vestige, in this case, means a trace of the thoughts she’s expressed during her lifetime, including those of remembrance.
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
The poem ends on a loving and selfless note. Though the speaker appears highly concerned with her memories being preserved throughout the poem, she ends it thinking firstly of her beloved. As much as it pains her to be forgotten, she thinks it a better alternative than seeing her loved one unhappy. This demonstrates a selfless and caring side of the speaker, once again highlighting the love she feels.
The poem begins and continues with the speaker’s wish to not be forgotten after she dies. This applies in particular to the person the poem is addressed to, most likely a romantic partner. It does not seem like an unreciprocated love as she mentioned their holding hands and talk of the future. Though the poem seems to be mainly about her commemoration, it ends with a change. She emphasizes it is important not to let the attempt to remember her bring misery. If remembering her will only bring sadness, she does not want that to be the case. The poem ends with the speaker saying it is most important for the loved one to be happy.
The two major themes of the poem are love and death, particularly as linked to memories. The speaker hopes her loved one will remember her after she dies. However, the love she has for the person to whom this poem is addressed outweighs her thoughts on death. Even when the speaker mentions death and not being forgotten, love and associated acts are detailed. For example, she mentions the inability to plan a future after her death. For this reason, it can be concluded both themes are very important and, in this sense, related.