Friday, March 07, 2008

Poetry Friday - Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Yesterday was the anniversary of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's birth. Born in 1806 in Durham, England, Browning is best known as the author of work is Sonnets from the Portuguese. To celebrate her birthday, I share my favorite sonnet and one other poem.
Sonnet XVI
If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
"I love her for her smile--her look--her way
Of speaking gently,--for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of ease on such a day"--
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee,--and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheek dry,--
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou may'st love on, through love's eternity.

The Best Thing in the World
What's the best thing in the world?
June-rose, by May-dew impearled;
Sweet south-wind, that means no rain;
Truth, not cruel to a friend;
Pleasure, not in haste to end;
Beauty, not self-decked and curled
Till its pride is over-plain;
Love, when, so, you're loved again.
What's the best thing in the world?
--Something out of it, I think.
The round up today is being hosted by Christine at The Simple and the Ordinary. Do stop by and take in some of the great selections being shared this week. Before you go, check out this week's poetry stretch results. Happy poetry Friday, all!


  1. I've always loved the first one so much. The second one is so vastly different in tone it's almost like it's not the same person.

  2. I suppose that's why I love the second one so much. I'm not a great fan of love poetry of any sort, but I do like this particular sonnet. I also am amazed that one person could show such versatility in writing.

  3. As I read the Browning sonnet, I began to anticipate the words that came flooding out of some dusty drawer in my brain. It is a lovely poem. Thanks for sharing it with us today.

  4. Something about that first sonnet puzzles me. Is it really better to love just for love sake and not the loved-one's sake? Not because of the beauty of their smile or whatnot, but because of their essence. I think the value of love is the effect on the people. It's not something outside of us.

    Then again, maybe the writer is showing greater love in wanting the lover to love on through eternity to their benefit... because that is good for the one doing the loving.

    What do you think?

  5. Wow. I love the second poem (had never seen it before)! Her enduring sonnets are like having jewels to wear throughout one's life.

  6. Lovely. *happy sigh* I will have to dig out some E.B.B. today. I so love the sonnet you selected.

  7. What lovely poems! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Where'd you GET that second one?? It's like the basement recordings or something. Very fine...

  9. Thanks for these. The first one in particular sends my mind in some good directions..

  10. These would be so lovely to know by heart. I feel another memorization project coming on!

  11. Thank you for sharing. Both are lovely.