Elizabeth Barrett Browning was a prolific writer and reviewer in the Victorian period, and in her lifetime, her reputation as a poet was at least as great as that of her husband, poet Robert Browning. Some of her poetry has been noted in recent years for strong feminist themes, but the poems for which Elizabeth Barrett Browning is undoubtedly best know are Sonnets from the Portuguese.
Written for Robert Browning, who had affectionately nicknamed her his "little Portuguese," the sequence is a celebration of marriage, and of one of the most famous romances of the nineteenth century. Recognized for their Victorian tradition and discipline, these are some of the most passionate and memorable love poems in the English language. There are forty-four poems in the collection, including the very beautiful sonnet, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.24(w) x 7.32(h) x 0.44(d)|
About the Author
Elizabeth Barrett Browning was born in 1806. A semi-invalid for most of her early life, she won a great reputation with the appearance of her Poems (1844). The book attracted the admiration of Robert Browning, who secretly courted her for two years before the couple's celebrated elopement to Italy in 1846. In Italy, Elizabeth's health improved; she threw herself into European politics and wrote what is perhaps her best-known work, Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850). She died in 1861, and her Last Poems appeared in that same year.
Read an Excerpt
Sonnets from the PortugueseA Celebration of Love
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 1986 Elizabeth Barrett Browning
All right reserved.
I thought once how Theocritus had sung
Of the sweet years, the dear and wished for years,
Who each one in a gracious hand appears
To bear a gift for mortals, old or young:
And, as I mused it in his antique tongue,
I saw, in gradual vision through my tears,
The sweet, sad years, the melancholy years,
Those of my own life, who by turns had flung
A shadow across me. Straightway I was 'ware,
So weeping, how a mystic Shape did move
Behind me, and drew me backward by the hair;
And a voice said in mastery while I strove,
'Guess now who holds thee?' - 'Death!' I said, But there,
The silver answer rang. . . Not Death, but Love.'
Excerpted from Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning Copyright © 1986 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A set of poems dedicated to her husband, Sonnets from the Portuguese traces the Brownings' relationship through their courtship. From sonnet to sonnet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning confronts her loneliness, her sense of unworthiness, her fears of love's vanishing, and slowly unfolds faith, gratitude, and the depth, strength, and fierceness of her love. Although I'm not much of a poetry reader, I found myself caught up in the language and rhythms and subject of this slim little volume. I'm certain I didn't drink the poetry to the dregs, so to speak, in just my one, leisurely read, but I enjoyed myself enough that I believe I'll want to revisit it someday.