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ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING
English poet
(1806 - 1861)
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And tulips, children love to stretch
  Their fingers down, to feel in each
    Its beauty's sweet nearer.
      - A Flower in a Letter [Tulips]

Deep violets, you liken to
  The kindest eyes that look on you,
    Without a thought disloyal.
      - A Flower in a Letter [Violets]

Pansies for ladies all--(I wis
  That none who wear such brooches miss
    A jewel in the mirror).
      - A Flower in a Letter [Pansies]

And thus, what can we do,
  Poor rose and poet too,
    Who both antedate our mission
      In an unprepared season?
      - A Lay of the Early Rose [Roses]

"For if I wait," said she,
  "Till time for roses be,--
    For the moss-rose and the musk-rose,
      Maiden-blush and royal-dusk rose,--
        "What glory then for me
          In such a company?--
            Roses plenty, roses plenty
              And one nightingale for twenty?"
      - A Lay of the Early Rose [Roses]

Yet half the beast is the great god Pan,
  To laugh, as he sits by the river,
    Making a poet out of a man.
      The true gods sigh for the cost and the pain--
        For the reed that grows never more again
          As a reed with the reeds of the river.
      - A Musical Instrument [Music]

There, Shakespeare, on whose forehead climb
  The crowns o' the world. Oh, eyes sublime
    With tears and laughter for all time.
      - A Vision of Poets [Shakespeare]

Life treads on life, and heart on heart;
  We press too close in church and mart
    To keep a dream or grave apart.
      - A Vision of Poets (conclusion) [Destiny]

World's use is cold, world's love is vain,
  World's cruelty is bitter bane;
    But pain is not the fruit of pain.
      - A Vision of Poets (st. 146) [Pain]

Knowledge by suffering entereth,
  And life is perfected by Death.
      - A Vision of Poets--Conclusion [Suffering]

The place is all awave with trees,
  Limes, myrtles, purple-beaded,
    Acacias having drunk the lees
      Of the night-dew, fain headed,
        And wan, grey olive-woods, which seem
          The fittest foliage for a dream.
      - An Island [Trees]

For poets (bear the word)
  Half-poets even, are still whole democrats.
      - Aurora Leigh (bk. 4) [Democracy]

And stroke with listless hand
  The woodbine through the window, till at last
    I came to do it with a sort of love.
      - Aurora Leigh (bk. I) [Woodbines]

The beauty seems right
  By force of beauty, and the feeble wrong
    Because of weakness.
      - Aurora Leigh (bk. I) [Beauty]

Whoever lives true life, will love true love.
      - Aurora Leigh (bk. I, l. 1,096) [Love]

By the way,
  The works of women are symbolical.
    We sew, sew, prick our fingers, dull out sight,
      Producing what? A pair of slippers, sir,
        To put on when you're weary--or a stool
          To tumble over and vex you . . . curse that stool!
            Or else at best, a cushion where you lean
              And sleep, and dream of something we are not,
                But would be for your sake. Alas, alas!
                  This hurts most, this . . . that, after all, we are paid
                    The worth of our work, perhaps.
      - Aurora Leigh (bk. I, l. 465) [Work]

Women know
  The way to rear up children (to be just);
    They know a simple, merry, tender knack
      Of tying sashes, fitting baby-shoes,
        And stringing pretty words that make no sense,
          And kissing full sense into empty words;
            Which things are corals to cut life upon,
              Although such trifles.
      - Aurora Leigh (bk. I, l. 48) [Childhood]

We get no good
  By being ungenerous, even to a book,
    And calculating profits--so much help
      By so much reading. It is rather when
        We gloriously forget ourselves, and plunge
          Soul-forward, headlong, into a book's profound,
            Impassioned for its beauty, and salt of truth--
              'Tis then we get the right good from a book.
      - Aurora Leigh (bk. I, l. 700) [Books]

Capacity for joy
  Admits temptation.
      - Aurora Leigh (bk. I, l. 703) [Joy]

Many a crown
  Covers bald foreheads.
      - Aurora Leigh (bk. I, l. 754) [Royalty]

Books, books, books!
  I had found the secret of a garret room
    Piled high with cases in my father's name;
      Piled high, packed large,--where, creeping in and out
        Among the giant fossils of my past,
          Like some small nimble mouse between the ribs
            Of a mastodon, I nibbled here and there
              At this or that box, pulling through the gap,
                In heats of terror, haste, victorious joy,
                  The first book first. And how I felt it beat
                    Under my pillow, in the morning's dark,
                      An hour before the sun would let me read!
                        My books!
                          At last, because the time was ripe,
                            I chanced upon the poets.
      - Aurora Leigh (bk. I, l. 830) [Books]

Every wish
  Is like a prayer--with God.
      - Aurora Leigh (bk. II) [Prayer : Wishes]

God answers sharp and sudden on some prayers,
  And thrusts the thing we have prayed for in our face,
    A gauntlet with a gift in 't.
      - Aurora Leigh (bk. II) [Prayer]

Nor myrtle--which means chiefly love: and love
  Is something awful which one dare not touch
    So early o' mornings.
      - Aurora Leigh (bk. II) [Myrtle]

That headlong ivy! not a leaf will grow
  But thinking of a wreath, . . .
    I like such ivy; bold to leap a height
      'Twas strong to climb! as good to grow on graves
        As twist about a thyrsus; pretty too
          (And that's not ill) when twisted round a comb.
      - Aurora Leigh (bk. II) [Ivy]


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