quinta-feira, 27 de dezembro de 2012

ELIZABETH BARRET BROWNING - SOME SONNETS


Elizabeth Barrett Browning


English poet, the wife of Robert Browning, the most respected and successful woman poet of the Victorian period. Elizabeth Browning was considered seriously for the laureateship that eventually was awarded to Tennyson in 1850. Her greatest work, Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850), is a sequence of love sonnets addresses to her husband. Browning's vivid intelligence and ethereal physical appearance made a lifelong impression to Ruskin, Carlyle, Thackeray, Rossetti, Hawthorne, and many others.
 Elizabeth Barrett Moulton-Barrett was born at Coxhoe Hall, near Durham. Her father was Edward Moulton-Barrett, whose wealth was derived from sugar plantations in the British colony of Jamaica. Mary Graham-Clarke, her mother, came from a family with similar commercial interests. Elizabeth grew up in the west of England and was largely educated at home by a tutor, quickly learning French, Latin and Greek. Both parents supported her early writing and many of her birthday odes to her parents and siblings still survive. At the age of 14, she wrote her first collection of verse, The Battle of Marathon. It was followed by An Essay on Mind (1826), privately printed at her father's expense. Her translation of Prometeus Bound (1833) with other poems appeared anonymously. Browning's first work to gain critical attention was The Seraphim, and other Poems (1838).

SOME SONNETS BY ELIZABETH BARRET BROWNING

XLIII. 

"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 candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.



I love thee with a 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.


XLIV. 

"Belovèd, thou hast brought me many flowers..."
Belovèd, 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.


XLII. 
"'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!


XLI. 
"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 hearken 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!


XL.
 "Oh, yes! they love through all this world of ours..."
Oh, yes! they love through all this world of ours!
I will not gainsay love, called love forsooth.
I have heard love talked in my early youth,
And since, not so long back but that the flowers


Then gathered, smell still. Mussulmans and Giaours
Throw kerchiefs at a smile, and have no ruth
For any weeping. Polypheme's white tooth
Slips on the nut if, after frequent showers,


The shell is over-smooth,---and not so much
Will turn the thing called love, aside to hate
Or else to oblivion. But thou art not such


A lover, my Belovèd! thou canst wait
Through sorrow and sickness, to bring souls to touch,
And think it soon when others cry 'Too late.'


XXXIX. 
"Because thou hast the power and own'st the grace..."
Because thou hast the power and own'st the grace
To look through and behind this mask of me
(Against which years have beat thus blanchingly
With their rains), and behold my soul's true face,


The dim and weary witness of life's race,---
Because thou hast the faith and love to see,
Through that same soul's distracting lethargy,
The patient angel waiting for a place


In the new Heavens,---because nor sin nor woe,
Nor God's infliction, nor death's neighbourhood,
Nor all which others viewing, turn to go,


Nor all which makes me tired of all, self-viewed,---
Nothing repels thee, . . . Dearest, teach me so
To pour out gratitude, as thou dost, good!


XXXVIII. 
"First time he kissed me, he but only kissed..."
First time he kissed me, he but only kissed
The fingers of this hand wherewith I write;
And ever since, it grew more clean and white,
Slow to world-greetings, quick with its 'Oh, list,'


When the angels speak. A ring of amethyst
I could not wear here, plainer to my sight,
Than that first kiss. The second passed in height
The first, and sought the forehead, and half missed,


Half falling on the hair. O beyond meed!
That was the chrism of love, which love's own crown,
With sanctifying sweetness, did precede.


The third upon my lips was folded down
In perfect, purple state; since when, indeed,
I have been proud and said, 'My love, my own.'


XXXVII. 
"Pardon, oh, pardon, that my soul should make..."
Pardon, oh, pardon, that my soul should make
Of all that strong divineness which I know
For thine and thee, an image only so
Formed of the sand, and fit to shift and break.


It is that distant years which did not take
Thy sovranty, recoiling with a blow,
Have forced my swimming brain to undergo
Their doubt and dread, and blindly to forsake


Thy purity of likeness and distort
Thy worthiest love to a worthless counterfeit:
As if a shipwrecked Pagan, safe in port,


His guardian sea-god to commemorate,
Should set a sculptured porpoise, gills a-snort
And vibrant tail, within the temple gate.


XXXVI. 
"When we met first and loved, I did not build..."
When we met first and loved, I did not build
Upon the event with marble. Could it mean
To last, a love set pendulous between
Sorrow and sorrow? Nay, I rather thrilled,


Distrusting every light that seemed to gild
The onward path, and feared to overlean
A finger even. And, though I have grown serene
And strong since then, I think that God has willed


A still renewable fear . . . O love, O troth . . .
Lest these enclaspèd hands should never hold,
This mutual kiss drop down between us both


As an unowned thing, once the lips being cold,
And Love be false! if he, to keep one oath,
Must lose one joy, by his life's star foretold.


XXXV. 
"If I leave all for thee, wilt thou exchange..."
If I leave all for thee, wilt thou exchange
And be all to me? Shall I never miss
Home-talk and blessing and the common kiss
That comes to each in turn, nor count it strange,


When I look up, to drop on a new range
Of walls and floors, another home than this?
Nay, wilt thou fill that place by me which is
Filled by dead eyes too tender to know change?


That's hardest. If to conquer love, has tried,
To conquer grief, tries more, as all things prove;
For grief indeed is love and grief beside.


Alas, I have grieved so I am hard to love.
Yet love me---wilt thou? Open thine heart wide,
And fold within, the wet wings of thy dove.


XXXIV. 
"With the same heart, I said, I'll answer thee..."
With the same heart, I said, I'll answer thee
As those, when thou shalt call me by my name---
Lo, the vain promise! is the same, the same,
Perplexed and ruffled by life's strategy?


When called before, I told how hastily
I dropped my flowers or brake off from a a game,
To run and answer with the smile that came
At play last moment, and went on with me


Through my obedience. When I answer now,
I drop a grave thought, break from solitude;
Yet still my heart goes to thee---ponder how---


Not as to a single good, but all my good!
Lay thy hand on it, best one, and allow
That no child's foot could run fast as this blood.


You can find more other poems by Elizabeth Barret Browning at


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