In his book, Christina Rossetti in Context, author Antony H. Harrison discusses the poet’s work and the “dominant tensions upon which it is constructed: between beauty and death; between love of man and love of God; between the ephemeral and the eternal; between the sensory and the transcendent.” ‘Remember’ is very much concerned with these tensions, especially those between the ephemeral, or short-lived, and the eternal and between beauty and death, which the poet seems often to confuse in her work as well as in her life.
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 plann’d:
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.
Christina Rossetti, 1849
How many times have we thought about lost love in the way put forward in these last two lines? It is so eloquently and succinctly put, and not only that, it reminds us to live in the present and not regret things past.