Facing death and thinking about death appears to be a common theme in Rossetti’s writing. The narrator is again facing death and asks the reader to “sing no sad songs for me.” The irony is that the narrator requests that her love sings no sad songs for her, perhaps because she is fully capable of singing these sad songs on her behalf, all by herself. This seems to be quite intentional on the part of the author since this piece is entitled “song.” Perhaps this is too cynical of an interpretation because this poem is not so much a song in praise of herself but rather one with her final wishes. The narrator wants to become part of the earth where like nature some things are occasionally remembered, occasionally forgotten, and occasionally overlooked.
The narrator in the poem wants the reader to remember her. It can be interpreted literally and understood to mean that the narrator has gone away to another land. But it is more likely that the going away actually refers to death, mainly as a result of the phrase “silent land.” The narrator wants to be remembered even when she’s not there on a daily basis but she shows love for the person she addresses by relieving him from the burden of guilt. In particular, Rossetti writes “Yet get me for a while/and afterwards remember, do not grieve.” The dead narrator wants this person to go on with his life by rising above his grief and not succumbing to it through guilt. The narrator’s love it is also evident in the last lines where she says, “Better by far you should forget and smile/then that you should remember and be sad.” While she wants to be remembered, she does not want that more than this person’s happiness.
The introduction to this collection of sonnets says that Rossetti uses the sonnet as a way to explain the immortalized and celebrated women, who “paid the exceptional penalty of exceptional honor.” As a result she paints a portrait that is in her eyes more realistic, even if it is “less dignified.” The first sonnet, just like the others are introduced using quotes from Dante and Petrarca. In the sonnet, the narrator begs her love to come back to her. Though they are not likely to be united soon, “and long it is before you come again,” the narrator indicates that if he did not return then they, as a couple, are over until he comes, “or, not yet, for it is over and then.” There is an interesting use of repetition in the line “when you come not, what I do I do.” This line can be interpreted as the narrator saying that she resumes her previous way of life while her love is a way. There is also a preference to the sweetness of life in the last line where the narrator says, “but where are you now the songs I sang/when life was sweet because you call them sweet?” The last line references the first quotation by Dante, “that day when they said adieu to their sweet friends.”
Rossetti isn’t afraid to list all of the type of orchard fruits almost with no regard for its implications on the reader. As a result the poem seems quite modern style as well as experimental. The occasional repetition of the words “come buy, come buy” gives it a kind of sing song quality. The goblins are used to describe devilish type figures who tempt women, Laura and Lizzie in particular, to buy the fruit. According to Wikipedia, it has been suggested that this poem was inspired by Rossetti’s time as a volunteer at the St. Mary’s Magdelaine “house of charity” for fallen women, i.e. prostitutes. This is particularly evident in the lines “their offers should not charm us, their evil gifts would harm us.” Thus the fruit represent monetary gifts, perhaps jewelry.