'Song'/'When I am dead, my dearest' - Christina Rossetti (written 1848)

  • Created by: lwilson23
  • Created on: 11-12-18 18:27

Content

The speaker is addressing someone close to them (lover is the presumption) telling them not to mourn their loss when they inevitably die. 

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Language

- 'When I am dead, my dearest/Sing no sad songs for me' - caesura and informal term of address in the first line create conversational tone about a morbid topic, with the imperative 'sing no sad songs for me' utilising sibillance and a monosyllabic lexical structure to reinforce their command and make it as simple to comprehend as possible. 

- anaphora in the phrase 'I shall not' combined with the visual images of 'shadows', 'rain' and 'nightingale' creates a sense of peacefulness, as the semantic field of death presented by these words is shown not to effect the speaker at all after she dies. 

- 'And dreaming through the twilight' - creates an image of death being almost like a dreamlike state, connotes with peacefulness and calm. Not a traditional Christian image of what the afterlife is like, shows Rossetti's doubts about religion in her earlier teenage years. 

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Structure

- written in a combination of iambic trimeter and iambic tetrameter to potentially show the speaker's ambivalence towards how they wish to be remembered/not remembered if the case may be. 

- made up of two octaves with many trochees, to perhaps show the harsh divide between life and death? 

- the rhyme scheme is regular however which potentially reflects the dream-state which the speaker percieves death to entail. 

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Context

- this is another example (like 'Remember') of a Rossetti poem that seems to have a morbid fascination with the macabre and death, written in Rossetti's teenage years (when she was 18) where death was a real possibility for her father, Gabriele Rossetti, due to tubercolosis. 

- it can be argued that the image of the afterlife that Rossetti presents in the poem as a land of 'twilight/That doth not rise nor set' is not how a Christian may percieve Heaven to be, showing Rossetti's doubt about religion in her period of 'religious mania'. 

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Critical Viewpoints

- 'the Bible is in the basic structure of her language' (THOMAS)

- 'something impelled her feelings or came into her head and her hand obeyed the dication' (WILLIAM ROSSETTI - ONE OF CHRISTINA'S BROTHERS) 

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