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A Comparison of Two Pre 1914 Poems - Remember, Christina Rossetti, and Sonnet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

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Introduction

A Comparison of Two Pre 1914 Poems -Remember, Christina Rossetti -Sonnet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning ENGLISH: UNIT 4 - ITEM 3 (5%) LITERARY HERITAGE AND IMAGINATIVE WRITING ENGLISH LITERATURE: UNIT 3 -PRE 1914 POETRY (10%) Many parallels can be drawn between 'Remember' by Christina Rossetti and 'Sonnet' by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, however at the same time there are distinct contrasts apparent. The title 'Sonnet' -or often commonly known as 'How do I love thee'- obviously introduces the piece in sonnet form. A sonnet is a fourteen-line poem in iambic pentameter with a carefully patterned rhyme scheme. The Italian or Petrarchan sonnet, named after Francesco Petrarch, an Italian poet from the thirteenth century was introduced into English poetry in the early sixteenth century and has been widely used ever since. Its fourteen lines break into an octet and a sestet, differing from the convention of the English Shakespearean sonnet, developed in the early sixteenth century by Henry Howard that consists of three quatrains and a rhyming couplet to conclude. Traditionally, both types of sonnet were usually written by men addressing their lovers in order to express deep emotion or appreciation through poetry. However, often they were used to persuade or construct an argument. Here, both poems share in that they are both written in Petrachan sonnet form. 'Remember' is a Petrachan sonnet except for the last two lines as it conventionally has an octet to begin, followed by a sestet. ...read more.

Middle

It feels wholly emotionally controlled. 'Gone far away' is an example of tenderness and sadness that really reflects the complete tone of the piece. This evokes a feeling of past love and past cares. The entire tone of the sonnet is firm and controlled. 'Do not grieve' is a sad and tender command or wish that bares no passion - just sorrow. In 'Sonnet' however, the piece seems to overflow with emotion and so much passion it provides the complete opposite to 'Remember'. The reader gets the feeling that the writer is desperate for ways to illustrate all the hows of her love, running out of superlative enough words to fully explain the depth, power and passion of this love. The lines run on revealing how her love is continuous and flowing completely in contrast with the controlled calm structural tone of the other. Punctuation is used rarely and randomly giving the effect that the whole aspect and tone of the poem is impassioned upon this love that it is repetitive throughout the sonnet. Imagery is used as a main component in 'Sonnet' but is not used as much in the other. Death is a strongly visible image within 'Remember' even though actual words connected with this -dead, death, die- are not literally used themselves. Lines one to three completely deal with the element of death. ...read more.

Conclusion

The line ends that flow on beyond the end of phrase supplying a feel of continuity - unlike the over punctuated stops at each end of each line in the other 'Sonnet'- are signs of the ongoing motion of the writing. Neither piece contains alliteration, therefore the difference in pace is even more apparent. With some form of alliteration, the language in 'Remember' would be profoundly linked together and would gain a more natural course to link up it's phrases, broken by punctuation. 'Sonnet' would gain further flow to continue its poetical motion and the difference would not be so great between the two seeing as they would both have flowing connected language. Both poems have simple language, structure and not very much poetic diction. In Rossetti's poem however, although she uses simple words, the repetition causes confusion. Playing around with word arrangement -'remember....forget....remember' can confuse the reader slightly. The transfer from positive to negative and back again can cause the reader to become overwhelmed by the twists that the writer is manifesting within the sonnet. Iambic pentameter supplies individual characterisation for the lover and the speaker in 'Remember' but in 'Sonnet', there is none whatsoever. In 'Remember, although it is a love poem there is only one reference to love and it is metaphorical, 'a vestige of thoughts' where it symbolises love. ...read more.

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