Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How he sleepeth! having drunken
Weary childhood’s mandragore,
From his pretty eyes have sunken
Pleasures, to make room for more-
Sleeping near the withered nosegay, which he pulled the day before.
Nosegays! leave them for the waking:
Throw them earthward where they grew.
Dim are such, beside the breaking
Amaranths he looks unto
Folded eyes see brighter colours than the
I heard an angel speak last night,
And he said “Write!
Write a Nation’s curse for me,
And send it over the Western Sea.”
I faltered, taking up the word:
“Not so, my lord!
If curses must be, choose another
To send thy curse against my brother.
“For I am bound by gratitude,
By love and blood,
To brothers of mine across the sea,
Who stretch out kindly hands to me.”
“Therefore,” the voice said, “shalt thou
O Rose! who dares to name thee?
No longer roseate now, nor soft, nor sweet;
But pale, and hard, and dry, as stubble-wheat,
Kept seven years in a drawer-thy titles shame thee.
The breeze that used to blow thee
Between the hedgerow thorns, and take away
An odour up the lane to last all day,-
If breathing now,-unsweetened would forego thee.
The sun that used to smite thee,
And mix his
Love me Sweet, with all thou art,
Feeling, thinking, seeing;
Love me in the lightest part,
Love me in full being.
Love me with thine open youth
In its frank surrender;
With the vowing of thy mouth,
With its silence tender.
Love me with thine azure eyes,
Made for earnest grantings;
Taking colour from the skies,
Can Heaven’s truth be wanting?
Love me with their lids, that fall
Snow-like at first meeting;
Love me with thine heart, that all
Neighbours then see beating.
What was he doing, the great god Pan,
Down in the reeds by the river?
Spreading ruin and scattering ban,
Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat,
And breaking the golden lilies afloat
With the dragon-fly on the river.
He tore out a reed, the great god Pan,
From the deep cool bed of the river:
The limpid water turbidly ran,
And the broken lilies a-dying lay,
And the dragon-fly had fled away,
Ere he brought it out of
We walked beside the sea,
After a day which perished silently
Of its own glory-like the Princess weird
Who, combating the Genius, scorched and seared,
Uttered with burning breath, “Ho! victory!”
And sank adown, an heap of ashes pale;
So runs the Arab tale.
The sky above us showed
An universal and unmoving cloud,
On which, the cliffs permitted us to see
Only the outline of their majesty,
As master-minds, when gazed at by the crowd!
And, shining with a
If God compel thee to this destiny,
To die alone, with none beside thy bed
To ruffle round with sobs thy last word said
And mark with tears the pulses ebb from thee,
Pray then alone, ‘ O Christ, come tenderly!
By thy forsaken Sonship in the red
Drear wine-press,-by the wilderness out-spread,
And the lone garden where thine agony
Fell bloody from thy brow,-by all of those
Permitted desolations, comfort mine!
No earthly friend being near me, interpose
She has laughed as softly as if she sighed,
She has counted six, and over,
Of a purse well filled, and a heart well tried –
Oh, each a worthy lover!
They “give her time”; for her soul must slip
Where the world has set the grooving;
She will lie to none with her fair red lip:
But love seeks truer loving.
She trembles her fan in a sweetness dumb,
As her thoughts were beyond recalling;
With a glance
He listened at the porch that day,
To hear the wheel go on, and on;
And then it stopped, ran back away,
While through the door he brought the sun:
But now my spinning is all done.
He sat beside me, with an
Now, by the verdure on thy thousand hills,
Beloved England, doth the earth appear
Quite good enough for men to overbear
The will of God in, with rebellious wills!
We cannot say the morning-sun fulfils
Ingloriously its course, nor that the clear
Strong stars without significance insphere
Our habitation: we, meantime, our ills
Heap up against this good and lift a cry
Against this work-day world, this ill-spread feast,
As if ourselves were better certainly
Than what we come to.
If all the gentlest-hearted friends I know
Concentred in one heart their gentleness,
That still grew gentler till its pulse was less
For life than pity,-I should yet be slow
To bring my own heart nakedly below
The palm of such a friend, that he should press
Motive, condition, means, appliances,
My false ideal joy and fickle woe,
Out full to light and knowledge; I should fear
Some plait between the brows, some rougher chime
In the free voice.
And wilt thou have me fashion into speech
The love I bear thee, finding words enough,
And hold the torch out, while the winds are rough,
Between our faces, to cast light upon each?
I drop it at thy feet. I cannot teach
My hand to hold my spirit so far off
From myself..me..that I should bring thee proof,
In words of love hid in me…out of reach.
Nay, let the silence of my womanhood
Commend my woman-love
I am like,
They tell me, my dear father. Broader brows
Howbeit, upon a slenderer undergrowth
Of delicate features, – paler, near as grave;
But then my mother’s smile breaks up the whole,
And makes it better sometimes than itself.
So, nine full years, our days were hid with God
Among his mountains : I was just thirteen,
Still growing like the plants from unseen roots
In tongue-tied Springs, – and suddenly awoke
To full life and life ‘s
Five months ago the stream did flow,
The lilies bloomed within the sedge,
And we were lingering to and fro,
Where none will track thee in this snow,
Along the stream, beside the hedge.
Ah, Sweet, be free to love and go!
For if I do not hear thy foot,
The frozen river is as mute,
The flowers have dried down to the root:
And why, since these be changed since May,
Shouldst thou change less than they.
I think we are too ready with complaint
In this fair world of God’s. Had we no hope
Indeed beyond the zenith and the slope
Of yon gray blank of sky, we might be faint
To muse upon eternity’s constraint
Round our aspirant souls. But since the scope
Must widen early, is it well to droop,
For a few days consumed in loss and taint?
O pusillanimous Heart, be comforted,–
And, like a cheerful traveller, take the road–
HEARKEN, oh hearken! let your souls behind you
Turn, gently moved!
Our voices feel along the Dread to find you,
O lost, beloved!
Through the thick-shielded and strong-marshalled angels,
They press and pierce:
Our requiems follow fast on our evangels,—
Voice throbs in verse.
We are but orphaned spirits left in Eden
A time ago:
God gave us golden cups, and we were bidden
To feed you so.
SPEAK low to me, my Saviour, low and sweet
From out the hallelujahs, sweet and low
Lest I should fear and fall, and miss Thee so
Who art not missed by any that entreat.
Speak to mo as to Mary at thy feet !
And if no precious gums my hands bestow,
Let my tears drop like amber while I go
In reach of thy divinest voice complete
All are not taken; there are left behind
Living Belovиds, tender looks to bring
And make the daylight still a happy thing,
And tender voices, to make soft the wind:
But if it were not so–if I could find
No love in all this world for comforting,
Nor any path but hollowly did ring
Where ‘dust to dust’ the love from life disjoin’d;
And if, before those sepulchres unmoving
Do ye hear the children weeping, O my brothers,
Ere the sorrow comes with years?
They are leaning their young heads against their mothers-
And that cannot stop their tears.
The young lambs are bleating in the meadows;
The young birds are chirping in the nest;
The young fawns are playing with the shadows;
The young flowers are blowing toward the west-
But the young, young children,
The face, which, duly as the sun,
Rose up for me with life begun,
To mark all bright hours of the day
With hourly love, is dimmed away
And yet my days go on, go on.
The tongue which, like a stream, could run
Smooth music from the roughest stone,
And every morning with’ Good day’
Make each day good, is hushed away,
And yet my days go on, go on.
The heart which,
LIGHT human nature is too lightly tost
And ruffled without cause, complaining on–
Restless with rest, until, being overthrown,
It learneth to lie quiet. Let a frost
Or a small wasp have crept to the inner-most
Of our ripe peach, or let the wilful sun
Shine westward of our window,–straight we run
A furlong’s sigh as if the world were lost.
But what time through the heart and through the brain
God hath transfixed us,–we, so moved before,
WE overstate the ills of life, and take
Imagination (given us to bring down
The choirs of singing angels overshone
By God’s clear glory) down our earth to rake
The dismal snows instead, flake following flake,
To cover all the corn; we walk upon
The shadow of hills across a level thrown,
And pant like climbers: near the alder brake
We sigh so loud, the nightingale within
Refuses to sing loud, as else she would.
O brothers, let us
You see this dog. It was but yesterday
I mused, forgetful of his presence here,
Till thought on thought drew downward tear on tear;
When from the pillow, where wet-cheeked I lay,
A head as hairy as Faunus, thrust its way
Right sudden against my face,—two golden-clear
Large eyes astonished mine,—a drooping ear
Did flap me on either cheek, to dry the spray!
I started first, as some Arcadian
Amazed by goatly god in twilight grove:
But as my
AND, O beloved voices, upon which
Ours passionately call because erelong
Ye brake off in the middle of that song
We sang together softly, to enrich
The poor world with the sense of love, and witch,
The heart out of things evil,-I am strong,
Knowing ye are not lost for aye among
The hills, with last year’s thrush. God keeps a niche
In Heaven to hold our idols; and albeit
He brake them to our faces and denied
But only three in all God’s universe
Have heard this word thou hast said,–Himself, beside
Thee speaking, and me listening! and replied
One of us . . . that was God, . . . and laid the curse
So darkly on my eyelids, as to amerce
My sight from seeing thee,–that if I had died,
The death-weights, placed there, would have signified
Less absolute exclusion. “Nay” is worse
From God than from all others, O my