The three poems Remember written by Christina Rossetti, A Mother In A Refugee Camp by Chinua Achebe and Poem at Thirty-Nine by Alice Walker share the same negative theme of loss and separation. Remember explores the pain felt by losing loved ones. A Mother In A Refugee Camp emphasizes the relationship between a mother and her child living in a refugee camp. Poem at thirty nine is a poem about the reminiscences of a loved one. Remember expresses the pain in losing and letting go of a loved one. This is shown through the techniques of imperatives and contrasts. The first few words said by the speaker is “remember me”.
This quote is very effective in expressing the personas demanding tone. The technique used is an imperative. This quote can have multiple interpretations as the speaker can be seen to be speaking in a selfish tone or in a concerned tone. In this sonnet the lover is addressed directly. The word ‘remember’ is repeated several times, this shows that there is a sense of fear the speaker holds that their lover might forget them too quickly. This word gives the effect of there being a separation between two lovers. The title itself consists of this word which shows the power of the word and the entire poem.
The speaker at first appeals to her lover to remember her after death, but as the poem progresses she dispels her selfishness. The poem unfold as the word ‘remember’ is used the reader understands that there is separation between two lovers. The reason of the separation becomes more clear when “gone far away” is repeated. This quote conveys the concept of death. The speakers sorrow is stressed by the reappearance of the words ‘gone away’. All sonnets are known to have a change in tone within them ; this sonnet has a change in tone from negative to positive.
In the two quatrains the speaker repeats the word “remember”, but the speaker uses the reiteration of the word “forget” towards the end. This supports the change of tone, she changes her tone from talking only about herself to caring about the person in front of her. Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare is similar to the sonnet Remember as in both poems love is believed to be constant even after death. Shakespeare and Rossetti both use the form of sonnets. The themes of loss and separation are conveyed through the constant repetition and steady tone.
In Remember, the speaker rejects her selfish desires and considers that it would be better to “forget and smile” rather than to “Remember and be sad”. This shows the contrast between speaker being selfish to being selfless. In this quote she confirms that she doesn’t want her lover to feel hurt in her absence. The speaker mentions to “hold me by the hand”, this demonstrates the clear and distinct relationship between the two lovers. This quote uses the technique of alliteration, of the letter h, this is a soft sound which shows the gentleness in their relationship.
Monosyllable words don’t flow well with other words and Christina Rossetti used monosyllable words to reflect upon the upset and disjointed mind she has. is quote shows the intimacy of their relationship. It also had the connotations of not letting go of something, the speaker wants her lover to keep hold of her. This is a gesture that occurs between two lovers which reveals that the speaker is in fact talking to her loved one. The structured poem constantly revealed the love the speaker felt for her partner. Christina Rossetti had written this poem during the Victorian era, this was when the poems were more structured.
The sonnet created the effect of the speaker revealing her feelings and letting her emotions out. Christina Rossetti may have chosen to write this poem because she had also lost the one she loved. In Remember the themes of loss and separation are constantly explored . A Mother in a refugee camp. The title says it all, it is a poem about a mother in a refugee camp, but it also shows how a mother tragically loses her child. The mother in this poem will “soon have to forget” her child, this foreshadows her child dying and shows that she would have to forget her child.
This quote uses the technique of euphemism to create a callous image of her loss. The word ‘soon’ gives the reader a sense of time, it creates the effect of death is yet to come upon the child. Throughout this poem poignant imagery is used successfully, this creates sympathy for the mother and her child. The mother described in this poem was unlike any other mother, she appeared to be weary and worn-out yet she wasn’t prepared lose her child. The mother had uncovered a “ghost-smile” and the poet had used an oxymoron to show this. This technique was effective in showing that she held a remnant of her smile.
The metaphor used could have two possible meanings: she is either happy that she is still with her child but her smile is faint due to her exhaustion or she holds a fake smile just to keep a smile on her child’s face. The mother appears to maintain her pride as she combs the “rust colored hair” on her delicate child’s head. The ‘rust’ colour symbolizes dried up blood, the colour is also related The condition of the hair seems to indicate that the child is suffering from diseases and is rapidly aging. The child is exposed to the weather, and less hygienic areas.
The child’s health lead to his death, and the loss of a loving mother’s child. In A Mother in a refugee camp, the poet vividly describes many children experiencing “blown empty bellies” this oxymoron effectively creates an image of children starving yet having blown bellies due to diseases developing. This quote had connotations of starvation and malnutrition which later on lead to death . The mother in this poem is again compared to regular mothers as instead of cherishing the small thing’s in life she visits her child at a “tiny grave”.
The poet has again used poignant imagery effectively, juxta position is used as the words ‘tiny’ and ‘grave’ are unusually put together. The word ‘tiny’ is used to show that her child was young and small. Another poem that shares the theme of separation and letting a loved one go is Do not go gentle written by Dylan Thomas. A Mother In A Refugee Camp is all one stanza, which mirrors the mother revealing a stream of feelings. The poet Chinua Achebe, is a U. N ambassador. While he was writing the poem he might have referred to the time he had visited some refugee camps, and had seen the conditions.
He believes that any mother in a refugee camp can give better than the best type of love that exists. This poem was largely influenced by the negative theme of loss and separation, between a mother and her child. Poem at thirty nine, is based on how a daughter looks back on her memories with her father. The speakers father was close to dying “before the end” has the connotations of death, and her father standing before it. This quote has effectively used the technique of euphemism, it shows the separation that will be caused because of the death of her father.
This quote is the first time she shows a sign of loss and regret. In the first few stanzas is the description of the speakers father, she had mainly remembered him guiding her life. He had “taught” her many things. This word was repeated often in the first section of this poem. This reveals the relationship between the speaker and her parent. This poem shows more of a teacher student relationship rather than one between a father and his daughter. The word ‘taught’ showed that the speaker considered her father to be a role model, and this quote convey the significance of his role.
When writing this poem Alice Walker may have been inspired by the death of her own father. She had expressed her feelings and emotions into this poem, and explores the theme of loss from her own experience. The free verse structure follows the train of thoughts. The speaker in poem at thirty nine had been separated from her father due to his death yet she carried on adapting to her life even after her loss. In poem at thirty nine , the speaker uses a simile to describe her father as being care free when she says “he cooked like a person dancing”.
This quote creates an image of her father being more spontaneous just like her. The poet uses enjambment to effectively maintain a trail of memories, the remembrance of her father once she had lost him was further inserted using this technique. Compared to her past she has become more light hearted “Seasoning none of my life the same way twice” . This quote has revealed the persona to be spontaneous which contrasts with her father as she is shown to be more diverse compared to her father being tedious. This extract once again refers to cooking.
The way her father had brought her up made her more unpredictable, the lack on structure in the stanza mirrors the atmosphere. The cooking could be a symbol of independence, her ability to strive even without her father. Piano written by D. H Lawrence, is another poem that shares the theme of nostalgia. Both poems demonstrate a reflection upon the speakers childhood. The poet had used comparison between “grieved” and “admire” which was what the persona believed her father would have thought of her in the past and at the present time.
This difference shows the adjustment in tone from the beginning of the poem when the tone was more negative and the end where the tone changed to be more positive as she started using words like admire. she had thought her father would be disappointed with her, but towards the end she thought she would have been admired. In this poem a daughter had lost her father and the theme of this loss was continuously supported throughout the poem. In conclusion, all 3 poems share the theme of Loss and separation.
Remember emphasizes the loss in relationships, and that grief will undoubtedly come with the loss of a loved one. The speakers quality of writing is shown in her other pieces. A mother in refugee camp explores the theme of loss in a perspective a mother losing her child. Poem at thirty nine describes the relationship between a daughter and her father, that had met his death. The poet shows how the speaker remembered and admired her father in various ways. All of the poems stress the inevitability of loss and separation in all relationships.
Courtney from Study Moose
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