Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the little Portuguese
On this day in 1861 the writer and poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning died aged fifty-five.
Considered one of the leading poets of the Victorian era, she suffered from ill health for most of her life and after marrying Robert Browning in 1846, lived in Italy where she grew stronger and bore a son.
Elizabeth’s family held plantations in Jamaica and though this was the source of much wealth, she became an abolitionist campaigner as well as promoting women’s rights in general. Her poetry was so well regarded that she was in contention to become Poet Laureate at one time (the post was given to Tennyson). Here is an example from her work Sonnets From The Portuguese (Browning used to call her ‘My little Portuguese’): 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 every day’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 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.
To listen to this poem, click here –
Today I will not wear a mask to hide my feelings – I will show my true emotions