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Classic Love Poems: Elizabeth Barrett Browning

  Elizabeth Barrett Browning - How Do I Love Thee
  Elizabeth Barrett Browning - Sonnets from the Portuguese, XIII
  Elizabeth Barrett Browning - Sonnets from the Portuguese XIV
  Elizabeth Barrett Browning - My Heart and I
  Elizabeth Barrett Browning - The Lady's Yes
  Elizabeth Barrett Browning - A Sea-Side Walk

Elizabeth Barrett Browning - How Do I Love Thee

 
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.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning - Sonnets from the Portuguese, XIII

 
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 to thy belief,
Seeing that I stand unwon (however wooed)
And rend the garment of my life in brief
By a most dauntless, voiceless fortitude,
Lest one touch of this heart convey its grief.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning - Sonnets from the Portuguese XIV

 
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 pleasant 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 cheeks 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 mayst love on, through love's eternity.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning - My Heart and I

 
I.
ENOUGH ! we're tired, my heart and I.
We sit beside the headstone thus,
And wish that name were carved for us.
The moss reprints more tenderly
The hard types of the mason's knife,
As heaven's sweet life renews earth's life
With which we're tired, my heart and I.

II.
You see we're tired, my heart and I.
We dealt with books, we trusted men,
And in our own blood drenched the pen,
As if such colours could not fly.
We walked too straight for fortune's end,
We loved too true to keep a friend ;
At last we're tired, my heart and I.

III.
How tired we feel, my heart and I !
We seem of no use in the world ;
Our fancies hang grey and uncurled
About men's eyes indifferently ;
Our voice which thrilled you so, will let
You sleep; our tears are only wet :
What do we here, my heart and I ?

IV.
So tired, so tired, my heart and I !
It was not thus in that old time
When Ralph sat with me 'neath the lime
To watch the sunset from the sky.
`Dear love, you're looking tired,' he said;
I, smiling at him, shook my head :
'Tis now we're tired, my heart and I.

V.
So tired, so tired, my heart and I !
Though now none takes me on his arm
To fold me close and kiss me
Till each quick breath end in a sigh
Of happy languor. Now, alone,
We lean upon this graveyard stone,
Uncheered, unkissed, my heart and I.

VI.
Tired out we are, my heart and I.
Suppose the world brought diadems
To tempt us, crusted with loose gems
Of powers and pleasures ? Let it try.
We scarcely care to look at even
A pretty child, or God's blue heaven,
We feel so tired, my heart and I.

VII.
Yet who complains ? My heart and I ?
In this abundant earth no doubt
Is little room for things worn out :
Disdain them, break them, throw them by
And if before the days grew rough
We once were loved, used, -- well enough,
I think, we've fared, my heart and I.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning - The Lady's Yes

 
"Yes," I answered you last night;
"No," this morning, Sir, I say.
Colours seen by candlelight,
Will not look the same by day.

When the viols played their best,
Lamps above, and laughs below---
Love me sounded like a jest,
Fit for Yes or fit for No.

Call me false, or call me free---
Vow, whatever light may shine,
No man on your face shall see
Any grief for change on mine.

Yet the sin is on us both---
Time to dance is not to woo---
Wooer light makes fickle troth---
Scorn of me recoils on you.

Learn to win a lady's faith
Nobly, as the thing is high;
Bravely, as for life and death---
With a loyal gravity.

Lead her from the festive boards,
Point her to the starry skies,
Guard her, by your truthful words,
Pure from courtship's flatteries.

By your truth she shall be true---
Ever true, as wives of yore---
And her Yes, once said to you,
SHALL be Yes for evermore.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning - A Sea-Side Walk

 
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 gloom, the water grey
Swang in its moon-taught way.

Nor moon nor stars were out.
They did not dare to tread so soon about,
Though trembling, in the footsteps of the sun.
The light was neither night's nor day's, but one
Which, life-like, had a beauty in its doubt;
And Silence's impassioned breathings round
Seemed wandering into sound.

O solemn-beating heart
Of nature! I have knowledge that thou art
Bound unto man's by cords he cannot sever---
And, what time they are slackened by him ever,
So to attest his own supernal part,
Still runneth thy vibration fast and strong,
The slackened cord along.

For though we never spoke
Of the grey water anal the shaded rock,---
Dark wave and stone, unconsciously, were fused
Into the plaintive speaking that we used,
Of absent friends and memories unforsook;
And, had we seen each other's face, we had
Seen haply, each was sad.

Love Poems

Alexander Pushkin
Ben Jonson
Carl Sandburg
Dante Alighieri
D. H. Lawrence
Edgar Allen Poe
E.E. Cummings
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Emily Dickinson
Goethe
Lord Byron
Oscar Wilde
Pablo Neruda
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Robert Browning
Robert Herrick
Robert Frost
Walter Savage Landor
William Shakespeare


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