Study Guide

Remembrance Quotes

  • Memory and the Past

    Have I forgot, my only Love, to love thee,
    Severed at last by Time's all-severing wave? (3-4)

    We don't usually think about forgetting to love, but the speaker makes it clear here that even love is susceptible to memory and time. The thought of forgetting to love makes the speaker feel a little guilty, as if time has severed her faithfulness in remembrance.

    Faithful, indeed, is the spirit that remembers
    After such years of change and suffering! (11-12)

    We hear more about the speaker's anxiety over her faithfulness in these lines, as she tries to convince us that a spirit that remembers is indeed faithful, especially after so many years. Faithfulness was mighty important to the Victorian audience, so it makes sense that we'd hear the speaker voicing her concerns in that regard.

    And, even yet, I dare not let it languish,
    Dare not indulge in memory's rapturous pain; (29-30)

    We don't normally think of memory as something indulgent, but it certainly is here. It needs to be checked when it involves such "rapturous pain." See, when you wallow, memory can do you more harm than good. That doesn't mean you have to forget. According to our speaker, you just can't let memory consume you.

  • Suffering

    Cold in the earth—and fifteen wild Decembers,
    From those brown hills, have melted into spring:
    Faithful, indeed, is the spirit that remembers
    After such years of change and suffering! (9-12)

    Fifteen wild Decembers have gone by and those brown hills are melting, but the speaker remains faithful in her remembrance—despite all of the change and suffering. That coldness still lingers along with her suffering and memory of her loss, so she's in an eternal December that just won't go away.

    All my life's bliss from thy dear life was given,
    All my life's bliss is in the grave with thee. (19-20)

    The anaphora we see in these lines really reiterates the speaker's feeling that her suffering is all she has since all of her bliss is in the grave with her lover. She's resigned herself to her suffering at this point and isn't about to seek out any new bliss.

    And, even yet, I dare not let it languish,
    Dare not indulge in memory's rapturous pain;
    Once drinking deep of that divinest anguish,
    How could I seek the empty world again? (29-32)

    By now our speaker's learned that she must check those tears of "useless passion" and control that indulgence. Indulging in memory's "rapturous pain" is like seeking an "empty world again," which doesn't do much good for the speaker's own survival

  • Time

    Have I forgot, my only Love, to love thee,
    Severed at last by Time's all-severing wave? (3-4)

    The words "at last" give the impression that the speaker believes time has the ability to sever even our ability to remember love. It seems then that everything under the sun, including all of our experiences, are vulnerable to the effects of time, no matter how much we may love someone and want to hang on.

    Sweet Love of youth, forgive, if I forget thee,
    While the world's tide is bearing me along;
    Other desires and other hopes beset me,
    Hopes which obscure, but cannot do thee wrong! (13-16)

    The world's tide is bearing the speaker along, giving her a different perspective on her sweet love of youth. But even if those hopes "obscure" her remembrance of that love, that doesn't mean they will harm it or make it any less important. So there's a difference between remembering love, in the intellectual sense, and simply feeling love.

    Faithful, indeed, is the spirit that remembers
    After such years of change and suffering! (11-12)

    Time has brought lots of changes and suffering for the speaker but she still remembers to love. She doesn't doubt her faithfulness to her lover, but she's aware that time is passing by and bringing changes that she can't necessarily anticipate. But we still sense her internal struggle regarding those changes and what that means for her "spirit that remembers."

  • Love

    Have I forgot, my only Love, to love thee,
    Severed at last by Time's all-severing wave? (3-4)

    Sometimes remembering lost love takes effort, especially since the speaker will always feel the anguish that comes along with that remembrance. Time, however, has a way of easing the pain a bit. Unfortunately, that also means that the speaker will remember her dead loved one less and less as time goes by.

    Sweet Love of youth, forgive, if I forget thee,
    While the world's tide is bearing me along;
    Other desires and other hopes beset me,
    Hopes which obscure, but cannot do thee wrong! (13-16)

    According to our speaker, "Love of youth" comes only once, and anything that comes after just isn't as sweet because the speaker has grown and experienced more things. She can't fight the "world's tide" but she also knows that no matter the changes that come, they can never harm that ooey-gooey feeling of love she once felt. It's there somewhere locked away in her remembrance.

    Then did I check the tears of useless passion—
    Weaned my young soul from yearning after thine; (25-26)

    Love can be dangerous when you lose it. Sometimes it can make you feel like you've lost yourself. The same goes for the speaker here, who feels so hurt that she wants to join her lover in that grave. But these are all yearnings of her "young soul" and her "useless passion" that keep her from being able to cherish her existence without that first love. She needed to grow up a little and learn to check those tears before they wrecked her completely.