‘Beloved, thou hast brought me many flowers’, one of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese, is a fine love poem about her courtship and eventual marriage to her fellow poet, Robert Browning.
Beloved, thou hast brought me many flowers
Plucked in the garden, all the summer through
And winter, and it seemed as if they grew
In this close room, nor missed the sun and showers,
So, in the like name of that love of ours,
Take back these thoughts which here unfolded too,
And which on warm and cold days I withdrew
From my heart’s ground. Indeed, those beds and bowers
Be overgrown with bitter weeds and rue,
And wait thy weeding; yet here’s eglantine,
Here’s ivy!— take them, as I used to do
Thy flowers, and keep them where they shall not pine.
Instruct thine eyes to keep their colours true,
And tell thy soul, their roots are left in mine. Read the rest of this entry
On Barrett Browning’s wonderful dog poem
‘A dog is a man’s best friend’, they say. But one hopes that in this case, as the old jest has it, ‘man embraces woman’, and that what the anonymous author of this proverb had in mind was the close bond between dogs and humans, whether men or women. Flush, the name of the cocker spaniel belonging to Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-61), was clearly a close friend of his poet-owner, and Barrett Browning penned this lovely poem about her beloved dog.
To Flush, My Dog
Loving friend, the gift of one,
Who, her own true faith, hath run,
Through thy lower nature;
Be my benediction said
With my hand upon thy head,
Like a lady’s ringlets brown,
Flow thy silken ears adown
Either side demurely,
Of thy silver-suited breast
Shining out from all the rest
Of thy body purely. Read the rest of this entry
A summary of a famous Victorian poem
‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.’ One of the most famous opening lines in all of English love poetry. Yet how much do we really know about this poem? Who can quote the second line, for instance? The poet who wrote this sonnet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, is now overshadowed by the work of her husband, Robert Browning, so it’s worth delving a little deeper into this love poem, by way of close textual analysis.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death. Read the rest of this entry