My love life is still good, but only when I’m dreaming

“Echo”, by Christina Rosetti, is a poem with passionate and evocative language that deals with the emotions of death and dreams. The speaker has obviously lost a loved one years back and chases an “echo” or memory of that person through their dreams. The “slow door that opening, letting in, lets out no more” seems like a somber metaphor for death as the speaker knows that the dreams are limited because the loved one will never come back to life. There is also a strong presence of alliteration , such as “speaking silence of a dream” and sunlight on a stream.” Along with this, Rosetti uses a ton of repetition throughout, with each stanza having their own repetitious pattern usually with he first word of the lines. The use of alliteration and repetition offers a very pleasing and sweet sounding flow, but at the same time is so explicit that it is very dark and somber. The speaker seems to be fond of their loved one and completely obsessed in my opinion. Although, the more deeply emotional thing for me is that I think the speaker is depressed and cannot survive day to day life without their ability to dream and pretend that their loved one is still alive in some way, which is a terrifying reliance. Expressions such as “pulse for pulse” and “breath for breath” embody the things that allow for life to happen, and I think offering to give that to their loved one portrays the serious dependance that the speaker has. I would assume the speaker has very distressing and bleak days, counting down the hours until it is nighttime so they can revive some sort of “echo.” Dreams, in this poem, signify the past life of the speaker and their loved one and there is an inverted dynamic here of dreams offering more life and color to our speaker than actual life does.

3 thoughts on “My love life is still good, but only when I’m dreaming”

  1. I really like your analysis of Christina Rossetti’s poem, and I want to connect it to “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” by John Keats. Dreams also play a very important role in this poem. One could argue that the knight’s interaction with the fairy-like women was a dream, seeing as he woke up on the hillside with no evidence as to her existence. Similar to the speaker in “Echo”, the knight is left only with the memories of his love, and can only sit desolately in one spot as he longs to be with her again. Only in dreams can he be with his lady, and without her he is a shell of the man he once was. You mentioned that the speaker in “Echo” has an obsession, and I believe the knight suffers the same fate.

  2. I found that dreams were also a big part of the poem La Belle Dame Sans Merci. Towards the end of the poem, the knight falls asleep and begins to have a nightmare. In his nightmare, he sees pale and deathly warriors wandering a cold hill. This is a reference to all the woman’s past lovers that she left. This is similar to Echo in how in someone’s dream there are past life’s or loved ones that are no longer with them.

  3. With connecting death and dreams to another poem, “La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” also shows these themes. Through Keats phrases “death-pale” “cold hill’s side,” “no birds sing,” one can conclude that this symbolizes that death is near. Along with death, we also see the theme of dream where the knight begins to fall in love with the woman and he goes to a hillside where he ends up sleeping. In this dream, he sees other “pale kings and princesses too,” signifying that this is not the first time the woman has done this. Like “Echo,” the knight is also obsessed with the woman and misled to the point where he can only dream of her.

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