Monday, April 06, 2009

While putting together yesterday's post, I got to read a fair bit about Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I knew that she married later on in life and I knew that her husband was younger than her, but had no idea about a lot of the details.

What strength of character and courage it must have taken for her to leave her family, to escape the clutches of her authoritarian father at a time when this just was not done. How wonderful that, at what was middle age then, she was able to live happily with her love, regain strength and start a family. Such perseverance, such patience on her part:

My Letters! all dead paper... (Sonnet 28)

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 tonight.
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,
Yes 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 . . . 0 Love, thy words have ill availed
If, what this said, I dared repeat at last!

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

And Robert's:

Meeting at Night

The gray sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low:
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i’ the slushy sand.

Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, through joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!

-Robert Browning

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