Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Happy Birthday Elizabeth Barrett Browning !

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Today is the birthday of an English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Elizabeth (6 March 1806 – 29 June 1861) was one of the most prominent poets of the Victorian era. Her poetry was widely popular in both England and the United States during her lifetime. Presenting some love poems : Being Poet

Yet, love, mere love, is beautiful indeed

Yet, love, mere love, is beautiful indeed
And worthy of acceptation. Fire is bright,
Let temple burn, or flax; an equal light
Leaps in the flame from cedar-plank or weed:
And love is fire.  And when I say at need
I love thee . . . mark! . . . I love thee—in thy sight
I stand transfigured, glorified aright,
With conscience of the new rays that proceed
Out of my face toward thine. There’s nothing low
In love, when love the lowest: meanest creatures
Who love God, God accepts while loving so.
And what I feel, across the inferior features
Of what I am, doth flash itself, and show
How that great work of Love enhances Nature’s.


My own Beloved, who hast lifted me


My own Belovëd, who hast lifted me

From this drear flat of earth where I was thrown,
And, in betwixt the languid ringlets, blown
A life-breath, till the forehead hopefully
Shines out again, as all the angels see,
Before thy saving kiss!  My own, my own,
Who camest to me when the world was gone,
And I who looked for only God, found thee!
I find thee; I am safe, and strong, and glad.
As one who stands in dewless asphodel,
Looks backward on the tedious time he had
In the upper life,—so I, with bosom-swell,
Make witness, here, between the good and bad,
That Love, as strong as Death, retrieves as well.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways
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 everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
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.
My letters! all dead paper, mute and white!
My letters! all dead paper, mute and white!
And yet they seem alive and quivering
Against my tremulous hands which loose the string
And let them drop down on my knee to-night.
This said,—he wished to have me in his sight
Once, as a friend: this fixed a day in spring
To come and touch my hand . . . a simple thing,
Yet I wept for it!—this, . . . the paper’s light . . .
Said, Dear I love thee; and I sank and quailed
As if God’s future thundered on my past.
This said, I am thine—and so its ink has paled
With lying at my heart that beat too fast.
And this . . . O Love, thy words have ill availed
If, what this said, I dared repeat at last!
I see thine image through my tears to-night
I see thine image through my tears to-night,
And yet to-day I saw thee smiling.  How
Refer the cause?—Belovëd, is it thou
Or I, who makes me sad?  The acolyte
Amid the chanted joy and thankful rite
May so fall flat, with pale insensate brow,
On the altar-stair.  I hear thy voice and vow,
Perplexed, uncertain, since thou art out of sight,
As he, in his swooning ears, the choir’s amen.
Belovëd, dost thou love? or did I see all
The glory as I dreamed, and fainted when
Too vehement light dilated my ideal,
For my soul’s eyes?  Will that light come again,
As now these tears come—falling hot and real?
My future will not copy fair my past
My future will not copy fair my past—
I wrote that once; and thinking at my side
My ministering life-angel justified
The word by his appealing look upcast
To the white throne of God, I turned at last,
And there, instead, saw thee, not unallied
To angels in thy soul!  Then I, long tried
By natural ills, received the comfort fast,
While budding, at thy sight, my pilgrim’s staff
Gave out green leaves with morning dews impearled.
I seek no copy now of life’s first half:
Leave here the pages with long musing curled,
And write me new my future’s epigraph,
New angel mine, unhoped for in the world!


I thank all who have loved me in their hearts
I thank all who have loved me in their hearts,
With thanks and love from mine.  Deep thanks to all
Who paused a little near the prison-wall
To hear my music in its louder parts
Ere they went onward, each one to the mart’s
Or temple’s occupation, beyond call.
But thou, who, in my voice’s sink and fall
When the sob took it, thy divinest Art’s
Own instrument didst drop down at thy foot
To harken what I said between my tears, . . .
Instruct me how to thank thee!  Oh, to shoot
My soul’s full meaning into future years,
That they should lend it utterance, and salute
Love that endures, from life that disappears!


I thought once how Theocritus had sung

I thought once how Theocritus had sung
Of the sweet years, the dear and wished-for years,
Who each one in a gracious hand appears
To bear a gift for mortals, old or young:
And, as I mused it in his antique tongue,
I saw, in gradual vision through my tears,
The sweet, sad years, the melancholy years,
Those of my own life, who by turns had flung
A shadow across me.  Straightway I was ’ware,
So weeping, how a mystic Shape did move
Behind me, and drew me backward by the hair;
And a voice said in mastery, while I strove,—
“Guess now who holds thee!”—“Death,” I said, But, there,
The silver answer rang, “Not Death, but Love.”

Unlike are we, unlike, O princely Heart!

Unlike are we, unlike, O princely Heart!
Unlike our uses and our destinies.
Our ministering two angels look surprise
On one another, as they strike athwart
Their wings in passing.  Thou, bethink thee, art
A guest for queens to social pageantries,
With gages from a hundred brighter eyes
Than tears even can make mine, to play thy part
Of chief musician.  What hast thou to do
With looking from the lattice-lights at me,
A poor, tired, wandering singer, singing through
The dark, and leaning up a cypress tree?
The chrism is on thine head,—on mine, the dew,—
And Death must dig the level where these agree.

I lift my heavy heart up solemnly

I lift my heavy heart up solemnly,
As once Electra her sepulchral urn,
And, looking in thine eyes, I over-turn
The ashes at thy feet.  Behold and see
What a great heap of grief lay hid in me,
And how the red wild sparkles dimly burn
Through the ashen greyness.  If thy foot in scorn
Could tread them out to darkness utterly,
It might be well perhaps.  But if instead
Thou wait beside me for the wind to blow
The grey dust up, . . . those laurels on thine head,
O my Belovëd, will not shield thee so,
That none of all the fires shall scorch and shred
The hair beneath.  Stand further off then! go!

Go from me. Yet I feel that I shall stand

Go from me.  Yet I feel that I shall stand
Henceforward in thy shadow.  Nevermore
Alone upon the threshold of my door
Of individual life, I shall command
The uses of my soul, nor lift my hand
Serenely in the sunshine as before,
Without the sense of that which I forbore—
Thy touch upon the palm.  The widest land
Doom takes to part us, leaves thy heart in mine
With pulses that beat double.  What I do
And what I dream include thee, as the wine
Must taste of its own grapes.  And when I sue
God for myself, He hears that name of thine,
And sees within my eyes the tears of two.

The face of all the world is changed, I think

The face of all the world is changed, I think,
Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul
Move still, oh, still, beside me, as they stole
Betwixt me and the dreadful outer brink
Of obvious death, where I, who thought to sink,
Was caught up into love, and taught the whole
Of life in a new rhythm.  The cup of dole
God gave for baptism, I am fain to drink,
And praise its sweetness, Sweet, with thee anear.
The names of country, heaven, are changed away
For where thou art or shalt be, there or here;
And this . . . this lute and song . . . loved yesterday,
(The singing angels know) are only dear
Because thy name moves right in what they say.

What can I give thee back, O liberal

What can I give thee back, O liberal
And princely giver, who hast brought the gold
And purple of thine heart, unstained, untold,
And laid them on the outside of the wall
For such as I to take or leave withal,
In unexpected largesse? am I cold,
Ungrateful, that for these most manifold
High gifts, I render nothing back at all?
Not so; not cold,—but very poor instead.
Ask God who knows.  For frequent tears have run
The colours from my life, and left so dead
And pale a stuff, it were not fitly done
To give the same as pillow to thy head.
Go farther! let it serve to trample on.

And therefore if to love can be desert

And therefore if to love can be desert,
I am not all unworthy.  Cheeks as pale
As these you see, and trembling knees that fail
To bear the burden of a heavy heart,—
This weary minstrel-life that once was girt
To climb Aornus, and can scarce avail
To pipe now ’gainst the valley nightingale
A melancholy music,—why advert
To these things?  O Belovëd, it is plain
I am not of thy worth nor for thy place!
And yet, because I love thee, I obtain
From that same love this vindicating grace
To live on still in love, and yet in vain,—
To bless thee, yet renounce thee to thy face.


Beloved, my beloved, when I think


Belovëd, my Belovëd, when I think

That thou wast in the world a year ago,
What time I sat alone here in the snow
And saw no footprint, heard the silence sink
No moment at thy voice, but, link by link,
Went counting all my chains as if that so
They never could fall off at any blow
Struck by thy possible hand,—why, thus I drink
Of life’s great cup of wonder!  Wonderful,
Never to feel thee thrill the day or night
With personal act or speech,—nor ever cull
Some prescience of thee with the blossoms white
Thou sawest growing!  Atheists are as dull,
Who cannot guess God’s presence out of sight.