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Richard Walker

Sonnet 71

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What a marvellous beginning this sonnet has:

No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell...

And it’s echoed by a famous sonnet of Christina Rossetti:

Remember me when I am gone away, 
Gone far away into the silent land; 
When you can no more hold me by the hand, 
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.

I think the second is a thoughtful response to the first, and I think perhaps its standpoint is nobler. Read them both and see. What you think.

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Hi Richard,

I prefer Rossetti’s. I think it’s an address to a lover and its intimacy is untainted by unpleasant imagery and enriched by the wish to be in intimate contact spiritually with the lover left behind.

By contrast, Shakespeare’s speaker is asking the person or persons not to remember him beyond the surly sullen bell. He seems almost glad to be leaving the world, as in, I am fled

From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell...


I can see the similarity of form and subject but I think they are radically different in sentiment and intimacy. I haven’t taken any extract from Rossetti to highlight a particular point because I think the whole extract is completely and intimately linked.

Nevertheless, I can see how the second could well have been inspired by the first.





Ali Chakir

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The Rosetti was my mother's favourite poem - in spite of the fact that a rather devious boyfriend gave it to her just before he left her. I embroidered it on a cushion cover for her.