AP English III
"When I Am Dead, My Dearest"
Literal and Figural Meaning
The poem literally illustrates the speaker's reflection upon whether or not he or she and the "dearest" shall remember one another when the speaker dies. Yet, figuratively, the poem conveys the poet's perception of death as a dreamy, intermediate existence that compares to "twilight".
Structure and Meaning
Christina Rossetti strategically structures her poem, "When I am dead, my dearest" to convey her notion of love and death. She presents her stanzaic poem through two octaves with the pattern iambic abc4b3deFE3. Even though Rossetti writes six of the sixteen lines in iambic trimeter, the abundance of variation throughout the octaves portrays the poem as more of a free verse. On average, Rossetti uses 6.7 syllables per line, which, in a way, conveys the sensation of uneasiness and uncertainty that humans feel towards the notion of death since the syllables irregularly vary per line.
Rossetti employs this method of confusion throughout her poem in order to establish a comparison between the perplexity with which humans view death and the optimism with which Rossetti views it.
Rossetti, in her poem, ponders upon death and whether or not her beloved and she may "remember" each other after she dies. In the first stanza, Rossetti requests her dearly loved to perform certain actions "above" her grave once she dies. By presenting this image of an ideal ceremony occurring above her grave through the first stanza, Rossetti differentiates between underground as being the stage of death, and above ground as being the stage of life. Each stanza, therefore, structurally demonstrates this notion of life above and death below as Rossetti places the stanza regarding the ceremonies above the second stanza, which enters the realm of unknown, where Rossetti...