Theme Of Death As Explored In Crabbit Old Woman, Remember, And Refugee Mother And Child

1419 words - 6 pages

In the three poems Crabbit Old Woman, Remember, and Refugee Mother and Child, the similar theme is death. Remember is a sonnet by Christina Rossetti, which goes into the thoughts of a dying woman imploring her lover to forever remember her, only to change her mind after the volta. Phyllis McCormack’s Crabbit Old Woman tells of an old lady’s opinion on her nurses’ perception of her. Refugee Mother and Child, written by Chinua Achebe, is an emotive poem which depicts a mother’s unwavering devotion towards her dying son.

In Remember, there is heavy repetition of the word ‘remember’. This emphasizes the main objective of the poem, which was to tell the narrator’s partner to never forget her. The first ‘Remember me’, is almost like an order, although it is in no way threatening or commanding, more desperate. The use of ‘me’, a personal pronoun, gives the poem a more intimate tone. This makes the reader feel like they are delving deep inside the narrator’s thoughts, and they are on a very private level of her mind. The repetition displays her protective, almost selfish attitude towards her lover, as she does not want her partner to move on without her.

The allusion to the Rossetti’s and her partner’s future is even more heartbreaking and poignant. Although she does not directly address it, the reader knows that her partner had imagined a happy ending for them, rather than a tragic one, as she writes ‘You tell me of our future that you planned’. The powerful, direct use of ‘you’ almost feels like the narrator is addressing the reader, creating a close relationship. Again, the use of ‘Remember me’ sounds like the narrator is pleading for her lover to remember her, which causes the reader to feel her pain.

The use of an euphemism for death, ‘gone away’ rather than ‘dying’ is very touching, and the reader can sense that she does not want to inflict anymore pain on her partner. Rossetti utilizes a metaphor, ‘the silent land’, alluding to a serene afterlife, which also helps alleviate the pain her partner feels. It is clear that she wants to remain realistic but optimistic for her and her lover.

Rossetti’s caesura in line 7 to a semicolon is the volta, the turning point, where the narrator’s thoughts change. She no longer thinks that her partner should remember her, now thinking that he should forget her. Her pleading tone remains, as she still begs her partner to ‘remember’, although this time she asks him to ‘not grieve’. She wants him to be happy, and be free from a life of ‘darkness and corruption’. Her poem ends on an optimistic note, as she tells him to ‘forget and smile’. The tone in the poem shifts from being sad to hopeful, as an emotive lexis is employed to be even more convincing. In the line ‘a vestige of the thoughts I once had’, the word ‘vestige’, meaning something that is ceasing to exist, shows that she has realized and accepted her impending death.

For Remember, Rossetti uses the structure of an Italian sonnet. In the octave,...

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