I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christina Rossetti

As much as I love quote books, and websites devoted to quotes, and jotting down quotes—something about them has always bugged me. Keeping a quote in context is impossible when it’s plastered autonomously all over the place. You just have to hope that the person who did the plastering attempted to grab the essence of what a person was saying, but even then, you never really have the full context.

A couple of days ago, I read a stand alone quote in my local newspaper by Christina Rossetti, a British poet from the 1800’s. Here’s the quote: “Better by far you should forget and smile than you should remember and be sad.”

My first thought was—wow, what a horrible way to live. Memories are part of who we are. I’d much rather have memories with tears than to have no memory and feel like I’ve failed to live the full human experience. I was prepared to write a post telling you why I felt that way. But, if possible, I wanted to find the context in which she spoke.

So, I did a search for the quote and Google provided me with 15,000 links. I quickly discovered that the quote comes from a poem she wrote called Remember. How ironic is that? One quick read of the poem will tell a person that she wasn’t against remembering. In fact, earlier in the poem she tells someone to remember her after she’s gone. But she knew how easy it is to forget and she seemed to be offering a person comfort in case he did forget her.

This just confirms my reservations about quotes. I still think they have value. And I’ll still continue to write them down when I’m inspired by them. But I’m more conscious than ever that they are but a sliver of what the writer or speaker originally intended, and sometimes they might even be the opposite of what he or she was trying to say.


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