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On this day in 1846 the poet and writer Robert Browning and the poetess Elizabeth Barrett decided to elope together.
Though several years older than Browning, Elizabeth became a loving wife and muse to her husband – some of his work had not been well received, like his poem Sordello. Carlyle claimed that his wife had read the poem through and could not tell whether Sordello was a man, a city or a book.
Soon however his work gained more popularity as in his famous The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Here is the beginning:
Hamelin town’s in Brunswick,
By famous Hanover City;
The river Weser, deep and wide,
Washes its wall on the southern side;
A pleasanter spot you never spied;
But when begins my ditty,
Almost five hundred years ago,
To see the townsfolk suffer so
From vermin was a pity. Rats!
Unlike the narrative tone of Robert’s poem, Elizabeth’s writing is more expressive of her feelings. This is from The Soul’s Travelling:
God, God! With a child’s voice I cry,
Weak, sad, confidingly – God, God!
Thou knowest, eyelids, raised not always up
Unto Thy love (as none of ours are), droop
As ours, o’er many a tear!
Thou knowest, though Thy universe is broad,
Two little tears suffice to cover all:
Thou knowest, Thou, who art so prodigal
Of beauty, we are oft but stricken deer
Expiring in the woods – that care for none
Of those delightsome flowers they die upon.
Today I reflect on the strength that love can give to two people.