Summary and Analysis of Memory by Christina Rossetti: 2022

About the Poet:

Christina Rossetti (5 December 1830- 29 December 1894) was an English writer who wrote a variety of romantic, devotional and children’s poems during her time. The sister of Pre-Raphaelite writer-artists, Dante Gabriel and William Rossetti, she was gifted with heights of creative powers. Although she was educated at home, it was by her mother who had studied well-known religious works, classics, fairy tales and novels of her time. Some of her most famous works include “Goblin Market” and “Remember”.

Introduction to Memory:

The poet, Christina Rossetti speaks about her unrequited love for an individual in this poem called “Memory”. She narrates of how safely she has protected her affection for that soul despite the differences. She faces her truth alone and still wishes to live under the false hopes of a future with the man she loves. Her only prayer is to wish to see herself and her love reunite in the heavens above.

Setting of Memory:

The poem is said to be set around the poet’s era with her involvement with the love of her life is still fresh and alive. Although the poem does go on to describe the “breaking idol” of her love, she continues to keep her affection safe and voluntarily chooses to stay in her state of lusting over her chosen one. Her pain is something that she agrees to bear with throughout her life and keep that truth safe with herself.

Poetic Devices in Memory:

Line 2: “I hid it in my heart”
Line 6: “I stood alone;- I faced the truth alone”
Line 7: “Stripped bare of self-regard or forms or ruth”
Line 11: “Weighted, found it wanting; not a word I said”
Line 13: “No one know the choice I made; I make it still”
Line 15: “Breaking mine idol; I have braced my will“
Line 16: “Once, chosen for once my part.”
Line 17: “I broke it a blow,”
Line 19: “My heart dies inch by inch”
Line 20:”Grows old in which I grieve.”
Line 23: “There sits a blessed memory on a throne”
Line 25: “While winter comes and goes- O tedious comer”
Line 26: “While it nip-wind blows”
Line 27: “While bloom the bloodless lily and warm rose”
Line 31: “Before whose face I no more bow”
Line 36: “When we’re together.”
Personification/ Metaphor:
The entire poem is characterised by phrases such as “shut the door to face the naked truth” and “I took the perfect balance and weighed” in each sentence, hence the entire poem is an embodiment of metaphysical poetry.
The line “I nursed it in my bosom” is a phrase that symbolises Christina Rossetti’s love that she keeps close to her chest. “I shut the door to face the naked truth” symbolises her inhibitions and thoughts that she kept closed out of her mind while she faced the truth of her unrequited love.
“Breaking mine idol” represents her heart that has been broken but she yet decides to keep it that way and go on with her life.

Style of Memory:

I nursed it in my bosom while it lived, (A)
I hid it in my heart when it was dead; (B)
In joy I sat alone, even so I grieved (A)
Alone and nothing said. (B)

Summary of Memory:

“Memory” is a poem by Rossetti about her the nostalgic memoirs that she has of her unreciprocated love that she remembers in this poem. Her heart has been broken and her past is now behind her but she cannot let go of her memories and chooses to hold it close to her heart despite all the pain that it caused her. She cannot mend what has been broken but only wishes to reunite with her lost love when she reaches the heavens.

Critical Analysis of Memory:

This poem by Rossetti is about the unrequited love that she has for who she believes to be her destined one, but she chooses to hold onto those memories instead of trying to getting over it. Rossetti depicts the inner most implications of the broken heart of a woman in this poem. She portrays the nostalgia of the feminine character’s affection towards her truly committed relationship with a lover whom she believes to be her one and only. Such feelings of closure and warmth felt by the woman always has the tendencies of her holding onto that state of affection despite the breaking of their heart that followed. Rossetti has beautifully narrated the mental state of being that the woman faces getting her heart crushed.

Central Idea of Memory:

The poem revolves around the memory of Rossetti’s true love that did not reciprocate her feelings to be mutual. She is so in love with the entire idea of her infatuation that she cannot choose to let go of that mental state. The entire poem describes as to how she treats that feeling and her involvement with it on a personal and private level. She keeps it all to herself and refuses to let any other conscious decisions in. Her final prayer is for her to be reunited with her lost lover in the heavens after her death.

Tone of Memory:

The poem begins with Rossetti narrating that her lost love is kept close to her heart despite the fact of it being broken up into pieces. She speaks of how she shuts out the voices of reason and regret to face the truth of her unrequited affections all by herself. Although she weighs the truths and the reasons, she silently makes the decision of sticking to her feelings. Her heart is crushed and her she stands alone with her emotions, but her only prayer to the Almighty is to become one with her long lost love.


Rossetti’s memory of her love is all that this poem revolves around. Her devotion and commitment to hold on to those feelings despite her broken heart are the highlighted factors in this poem. She deals with her love very delicately and decides to bear with the pain that would follow, only in the hopes that she is in union with her lover later, once she reaches the heavens.
Contributor: Deeksha Honawar

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