Literal and Figural Meaning
The verse form literally illustrates the speaker’s contemplation upon whether or non he or she and the “dearest” shall retrieve one another when the talker dies. Yet. figuratively. the verse form conveys the poet’s perceptual experience of decease as a dreamy. intermediate being that compares to “twilight” .
Structure and Meaning
Christina Rossetti strategically structures her verse form. “When I am dead. my dearest” to convey her impression of love and decease. She presents her stanzaic verse form through two octaves with the form iambic abc4b3deFE3. Even though Rossetti writes six of the 16 lines in iambic trimeter. the copiousness of fluctuation throughout the octaves portrays the verse form as more of a free poetry. On norm. Rossetti uses 6. 7 syllables per line. which. in a manner. conveys the esthesis of uneasiness and uncertainness that worlds feel towards the impression of decease since the syllables irregularly vary per line. Rossetti employs this method of confusion throughout her verse form in order to set up a comparing between the perplexity with which worlds view decease and the optimism with which Rossetti views it.
Rossetti. in her verse form. ponders upon decease and whether or non her dear and she may “remember” each other after she dies. In the first stanza. Rossetti requests her dearly loved to execute certain actions “above” her grave once she dies. By showing this image of an ideal ceremonial happening above her grave through the first stanza. Rossetti differentiates between resistance as being the phase of decease. and above land as being the phase of life. Each stanza. hence. structurally demonstrates this impression of life above and decease below as Rossetti places the stanza sing the ceremonials above the 2nd stanza. which enters the kingdom of unknown. where Rossetti offers her position of the hereafter from deep beneath the land in her grave.
Rossetti applies the fluctuations in the iambic form of this verse form for the same ground that she does non use a sonnet construction even though this poem speaks of love. A sonnet. traditionally. conveys the esthesis or emotions of love. yet. by simply using free poetry. Rossetti implies that she herself shall “forget” her beloved after she dies. Similarly. Rossetti varies the metrical construction of the verse form to show the bewilderment she experiences as she ponders upon whether she shall “remember” or “forget” her love. The fickle construction besides demonstrates the spontaneousness with which Rossetti creates her verse form ; as mentioned antecedently. as an highly spiritual adult female. Rossetti enterprises to hide her passionate emotions. yet. while composing poetry. her passion prevails over her spiritual ethical motives. at times. and the verse form becomes a heart-rending word picture of her innermost ideas.
By structuring most of the lines with three pess. Rossetti conveys a sense of the three spiritual beds of Eden. Earth. and snake pit. This construction. in concurrence with assorted dark. redolent words in the verse form. implies that Rossetti fears that her passion may take her to hell. The two choruss at the terminal of each stanza serve to show Rossetti’s intuition towards the truth of her “dearest [ ‘s ] ” fondnesss as she repeatedly inquiries whether or non he shall “remember” her.
By riming the 2nd and 4th lines. but non the first and 3rd lines. Rossetti groups lines 1-2 and 3-4 together as one thought. She continues this form with lines 5-6 and 7-8 ; likewise. the 2nd octave consists of two abcb quatrains. The grouping consequence of the rhythmical form separates the verse form into four four-line subdivisions: the first and 2nd subdivisions announce what the speaker’s beloved should non and should make above land. severally. while the 3rd and forth convey what the talker can non and can make underground.
Sound and Meaning
Sound plays a cardinal function in Christina Rossetti’s verse form “When I am dead. my dearest” in conveying her emotions and ideas. “My dearest” refers to the female speaker’s beloved who ne’er loves the talker while she lives and the verse form explores whether or non the talker and the adult male shall retrieve one another when the talker dies. By mentioning to the one she loves as “my dearest” . the talker suggests a husband-wife relationship between the adult male and herself ; yet. by presenting the subject by simply saying “when I am dead” . instead than utilizing more pleasant or inexplicit phrases such as “when I pass away” or “If I should go through away” . the talker conveys a sense of discourtesy or sloppiness for this adult male likely because the adult male ne’er loved her in the first topographic point. By missing decency. the phrase serves as an involvement backstop. perchance for the speaker’s beloved. as it defies the usual decorousness that characterizes a verse form sing love. Furthermore. the plosive “t” sound in the term “dearest” . which creates a brief caesura because of the release of breath. serves to stress the fact that the talker writes this verse form in mention to a specific person.
The 2nd line evidently applies initial rhyme ; nevertheless. it strays from the iambic signifier as the talker stresses “sing” . “sad” . and “songs” . Rossetti besides applies consonant rhyme as both the “s-” and “-ng” repetition in “sing” and “songs” ; in bend. this emphasizes the “-d” in “sad” . which. through its intension and sound. evokes the impression of “death” . Thereby. the talker requests that her dears should non sing a “dirge” or “requiem” . The harmonic “s-” in all of these words augments the adeptness and downiness of the line. which suggests a sarcastic facet to the verse form since the talker views decease positively. The euphonous sounds of the consonants “s” . “f” . and “m” . and the vowels “i” . “a” . and “o” farther set up the satirical potency of the verse form as the music makes the line seem about playful.
Rossetti establishes an undertone of tenseness in the 3rd line as she abandons the playful trimeter form of the first two lines and applies a tetrameter incorporating an vague pes: “Plant though no roses” . The gait. nevertheless. remains speedy as the talker employs more unstressed syllables than stressed and applies largely liquid vowels and consonants with the exclusion of “p” . “t” . and slightly “d” ; this rapid gait augments the effectivity of Rossetti’s impression of decease as non so dismaying as it appears since a speedy gait contradicts the lassitude that characterizes a glooming topic. The talker requests that her darling “plant… no roses at [ her ] head” . which portrays the speaker’s desire to unify into nature without any landmark that clearly exposes her burial site. Furthermore. the statement indicates the speaker’s desire that her darling retrieve her as she truly was and that he should non embroider her life. as with the beauty of “roses” . when he thinks of her. Rossetti still employs euphonous sounds to convey this impression.
In the 4th line. the talker continues her desire from the old line by saying that her dears should non “plant…roses… nor fly-by-night cypress tree” . In kernel. the talker deems that her dears should non bury her wholly as by seting a cypress tree that overshadows his memories of her. Rossetti employs internal rime in the signifier of consonant rhyme through the footings “shady” and “tree” in order to stress the size of the tree as it conceals the speaker’s grave ; nevertheless. she maintains the pleasant tone of the morbid verse form through the term “cypress” . which contains the euphonous “s” sounds. Since the lines up until this point convey what the “dearest” “shall not” do. the semicolon at the terminal of the line serves to convey a passage in thoughts as Rossetti explains what the “dearest” should make.
Rossetti one time once more employs initial rhyme in the 5th line. a line that besides contains a fluctuation in the metrical form. The fluctuation serves to stress the beginning of a new subdivision of the verse form and the significance of the line. Rossetti presents the initial rhyme of “grass” and “green” as phonic intensifiers. whose “gr-” sounds call to mind the term “grave” . Furthermore. Rossetti employs internal rime as she relates the footings “me” and “be” . Within the line. the talker requests that her darling “be the green grass” ; yet. the deductions of the phonic intensifiers in concurrence with the internal rime suggest that Rossetti desires that the adult male dice as good: “be… me” . thereby. “be” the talker. who is “dead” and in a “grave” . The intensions of the “gr-” sounds augment the consequence of this impression.
The tone of the verse form now seems much less euphonous ; instead. the cacophonic sounds of “b” and “gr” portray Rossetti’s spontaneousness as she reveals a little repugnance towards the adult male whom she loves. The vowel rhyme of the long “ee” sounds in “be” . “me” . and “green” . and the long “s” sound in “grass” suggest that the talker views decease as a emancipating experience as the sound conveys a sense of magnitude since the full seven syllable line sounds longer than the others. The green grass. unlike a gravestone. spreads without edge and takes up an tremendous country that becomes the speaker’s burial topographic point. This expresses the magnificence intervention that the talker desires when she dies. Rossetti uses neither a colon nor a comma. which indicates that the undermentioned line contains what intervention the “dearest” must utilize. Rossetti employs enjambement in this line to stress the impression of “showers and dewdrops wet” .
Rossetti exemplifies the impression of independency mentioned antecedently as the talker mentions the “showers and dewdrops” that nourish the grass. However. the “dewdrops and showers” may besides mention to the cryings of the speaker’s “dearest” . which implies a contemptuous attitude on the speaker’s behalf when sing the undermentioned lines that province “And if thou wilt. remember/ And if thou wilt. forget” ; this once more suggests a satirical facet to the verse form as the line contains ambivalent emotions towards the “dearest” . The repeat of the phrase “and if thou wilt” efficaciously assists in making the musical aspect of the verse form as it reflects the impression of repeat as in rhythmical beats. Rossetti emphasizes the term “forget” through its rime with “wet” . which. once more. refers to the spiritual qualities of Rossetti as it implies that the talker desires that her darling “forget” her. Rossetti farther stress this impression by using a semicolon after “wet” ; this punctuation in concurrence with the plosive “t” in “wet” . forms a caesura that stresses the term “wet” . and. thereby. the term “forget” since the two footings represent an terminal rime. Stop consonants besides play a cardinal function in stressing the word “wilt” . which intentionally serves to arouse a sense of confusion ( Discussed in Other Devices ) .
The first three lines of the 2nd stanza. which provide the speaker’s point of position as she lays in her grave. show how the talker shall ne’er “see” . “feel” . or “hear” what her beloved does above her and how the first stanza merely presents what she wishes for him to make. Rossetti presents the long “ee” sounds of these words as phonic intensifiers that suggest the “deepness” of the grave ; a point at which the talker can merely “dream” . In kernel. the talker explains that she shall lose all of her senses. The plosive sound of the “t” in “not” non merely creates a brief intermission. but. in making so. it besides emphasizes this impression that the talker shall ne’er see these agony esthesiss. However. Rossetti establishes a vindictive tone as the “shadows” . “rain” . and “nightingale” refer to the manner the “dearest” positions the universe ; thereby. Rossetti suggests that the speaker’s beloved may endure in these drab colourss. while she strives in her dreams. However. the euphonous sounds throughout the first three lines augment the consonance that exists throughout the verse form ; this pleasantry. once more. suggests that Rossetti positions decease as non so unfortunate as it seems.
In the 6th and 7th line of the 2nd stanza. Rossetti one time once more illustrates her impression of decease as an intermediate province of being through the term “twilight. ” which describes the visible radiation from the sky “that doth non lift nor set” ; thereby. the euphonic description of the talker “dreaming through the twilight” . supports Rossetti’s optimistic position of decease. The long “ee” sound of “dreaming” and the long “oo” sound of “through” convey a sense of deep enchantment merely as the sounds. earlier. conveyed the deepness of the talker resistance. Rossetti. in a manner. besides applies onomatopoeia as the words “rise” and “set” . harmonizing to the pitch of the vowel sound. seem to convey a sense of lifting and puting ; the “i” sound in “rise” contains a higher pitch than the “e” in “set” .
The plosive sound of the “t” in “set” one time once more emphasizes the term “forget” merely as “wet” does in the last line of the first stanza. The fact that “doth” sounds like “death” one time once more exemplifies Rossetti’s perceptual experience of decease as non such a concrete construct. Harmonizing to her. the phase of decease requires that an single neither possesses all of his or her earthly senses. nor does he or she possess the inertness that characterizes a cadaver in its grave ; instead. the dead live in an intermediate province of “dream [ s ] ” merely as in dusk. where the visible radiation neither “rises” nor “sets” .
The last two lines of the verse form portray the speaker’s pick to either forget or retrieve her love. The 7th line runs much more fleetly than the 8th line because it contains more unstressed syllables ; this. in consequence. emphasizes the 8th line. which implies that the talker desires to “forget” . Rossetti applies the term “haply” . intended to intend “by chance” . as about a wordplay in order to convey the satirical impression that decease may no be so unfortunate as it seems. “Haply” sounds similar to “happily” . and. hence. the full significance of the verse form depends upon the reader’s reading of the word ; “haply” portrays the verse form as chiefly refering to love. whereas. “happily” refers to the decease facet of the verse form since the talker thereby depicts that felicity may be attained irrespective of whether or non she “remembers” or “forgets” her beloved.
Other Poetic/Stylistic/Literary Devicess
In her verse form. Christina Rossetti besides employs brilliant enunciation in set uping a comparing between her emotions towards decease versus that of worlds. For illustration. the term “wilt” . which she uses in the 7th and 8th lines. at a glimpse. denotes “will” . However. in sing the words that precede it. the term “wilt” conveys an image of a weakening works. In the 5th line. the talker requests that her “dearest… be the green grass above [ her ] ” ; yet. by using the term “wilt” . Rossetti creates an image of a weakening. or deceasing “dearest” . The morbid and confusing intensions of the word set up an uneasy. bewildered feeling within the reader. which characterizes the emotions that worlds possess when discoursing the impression of decease. On the other manus. Rossetti conveys her optimistic perceptual experience of decease through the term “haply” . as mentioned antecedently.
Rossetti besides employs metaphor in depicting the torments that the talker shall non digest since she loses all of her senses. In kernel. Rossetti restates the thought introduced in the 2nd line of the first stanza through the metaphor of the “nightingale” in the 3rd line of the 2nd stanza. Both lines convey how the talker desires to ne’er hear the “songs” of decease. or coronachs. She compares these dirges to the “song” of the “nightingale” . who “sings” in “pain” as it mourns over the speaker’s decease. As merely the male “nightingale” sings. Rossetti besides emphasizes the speaker’s female gender. Furthermore. Rossetti states that the Luscinia megarhynchos. or the “dearest” . simply sings “as if” in hurting and non wholly “in pain” . Thereby. Rossetti suggests the possible mendacity and falsity in these grave chants.
In his commentary. “Christina Rossetti” . Ford Madox Ford unsuccessfully endeavors to portray Rossetti as more of a modernist author than a Pre-raphaelite. Early on. Ford overgeneralizes his impression that “the last thing Sentimentalists desired was preciseness. ” which characterizes Rossetti. as he simply provides one illustration from a little subdivision of a random book by Mr. Ruskin and even excludes the rubric of the book. Furthermore. Ford applies an either or false belief when endeavouring to associate Rossetti’s purportedly modernistic authorship to her environment ; he presents the “drawing-room in [ Rossetti’s ] London square” as either “ennobling” and “inspiring” or “exceedingly tragic” . Ford once more exploits an overgeneralization as he attempts to portray Rossetti as a modernist by specifying one similarity between modern worlds and her as being the fact that “ [ modern worlds ] have to confront such an infinite figure of small things that [ they ] have no longer any clip to set up them in our heads or to see them as anything but as accidents. occurrences. the mere events of the twenty-four hours. ” Ford ne’er provides any cogent evidence that supports this theory on modern being and. yet. he insists that the theory defines the life of Rossetti.
Jerome J. McGann. in his commentary. “Christina Rossetti’s Poems: A new Edition and a Revaluation” . successfully presents his theory of Rossetti’s alone symbolic technique of authorship and her “spinster”-like qualities. McGann clearly portrays how Rossetti employs symbolism to make a sense of “bewilderment” by analysing her assorted verse forms. including “May” and “Listening” . By using symbolism. harmonizing to McGann. Rossetti establishes many “layers” of significances that perplex the reader. which reflects the bewilderment that readers undergo when associating to Rossetti’s subjects of love and decease. Furthermore. through effectual usage of Son. McGann refers to assorted verse forms by Rossetti to exemplify her “spinster and fallen woman” visual aspect ; for illustration. he provides subjects from “The Triad” . “The Iniquity of the Fathers Upon the Children” . and “The Lowest Room” to convey Rossetti’s despise for matrimonies. yet ownership of lubricious emotions.