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 her mother who had studied well-known religious works, classics, fairy tales, and novels of her time. Her most famous works include “Goblin Market” and “Remember.”
Introduction to Echo:
The poem by Rossetti is her reminiscing about her lost love and wishes for the images of her lover to revert to her like an echo. She describes the memories of her love as something that shall always be a part of her life, much like the way it is in every heartbreaking relationship. She sorrowfully expresses her longing for her lover through this poem.
The setting of Echo:
This poem is about a lost love story in the life of Rossetti. The use of terms like “Come back in tears” and “O memory, hope, love of finished years” portrays her desire for those long-gone memories of hers to be back with her. She is reminiscent of each memory, like the “opening door” of hope and longing that doesn’t let out as much as it lets in. Each line in this poem resonates within her with the sense of sadness that she beautifully displays through her words.
Poetic Devices in Echo:
Line 2: “Come in the speaking silence of a dream;”
Line 4: “As sunlight on a stream”
Line 7: “Oh dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter sweet,”
Line 8: “Whose wakening …”
Line 12: “That opening, letting in, lets out”
Line 16: “Pulse for pulse, breath for breath”
Line 17: “Speak low, lean low,”
Line 18: “As long ago, my love, how long ago.”
The entire poem is Rossetti’s method of relating the strength of her love through metaphorical statements. This makes Rossetti’s love song become a poem of the metaphysical kind with personifications of the “silent night” and the “speaking dream” along with metaphors like “thirsty longing eyes” multiplying the beauty of the poem.
Style of Echo:
Come to me in the silence of the night; (A)
Come in the speaking silence of a dream; (B)
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright (A)
As sunlight on a stream; (B)
Come back in tears, (C)
O memory, hope, love of finished years. (C)
Summary of Echo:
Echo is Rossetti’s moments of grief when she cannot help but ask for the memories of her lost love to get back to her like an echo. She describes the misery of lost love to be unlike any other sadness, where she cannot help but give in to the chains of lost hope that clutch onto her. She speaks of her thirsty eyes wanting to get back in through the door of what she believes to be lost Paradise. Her description of these doors is said to be somewhat restricted as they are said to let sweet memories in but not let as many memories out.
Critical Analysis of Echo:
Rossetti speaks volumes about the pain and regrets felt by the broken-hearted soul. She narrates the truth of a painful breaking of a relationship with metaphors of silent nights and the silent speaking of dreams in the soul of the brokenhearted. She relates to the lost soul within the reader who has once loved and lost his or her love. There is an emphasis on the visual echo that Rossetti wants to promote, much like the desires of a reminiscent lover. The most admirable fact about this poem by Rossetti is her honesty with her emotions which resonates with that of the lost lover inside the reader.
Central Idea of Echo:
This poem by Rossetti revolves around the idea of a broken heart longing for the memories of her lost relationship to come back to her like an echo. Rossetti is disheartened by the despair that her broken relationship has left her in, expressing these emotions through this honest and expressive poetry.
The tone of the Poem:
The poem begins with Rossetti speaking to the memories of her relationship as if it was an echo. She asks for this echo to come to her aid in her dreams in the silence of the night and touch her so deeply that she wields up in tears. She describes this memory to be of a bittersweet kind and compares it to the doors of Paradise, where the entries are much more compared to the exits. She finally ends with the request for this echo to come to her during her dreams, where she can envision the memories almost as if she still lives in them.
Rossetti aims to express her deepest sorrows of losing the love of her life and the longing for those memories to echo back into her life through this poem. She not only portrays her desire for the memories to stay with her throughout her life, but she even expresses the want for them to stay as a visual echo that comes back to her in her dreams so that she can live it through as if the love still were still alive. Her distressed self is clearly reflected in this poem about the reminiscent musings of a broken heart.
Also, check out the summary of If by Rudyard Kipling here.
Updated by Anjali Roongta on 26th April 2023.
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