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ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING
English poet
(1806 - 1861)
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A worthless woman! mere cold clay
  As all false things are! but so fair,
    She takes the breath of men away
      Who gaze upon her unaware:
        I would not play her larcenous tricks
          To have her looks!
      - Bianca among the Nightingales (st. 12)
        [Women]

With her ankles sunken in asphodel
  She wept for the roses of earth which fell.
      - Calls on the Heart [Asphodels]

Speak low to me, my Saviour, low and sweet
  From out the hallelujahs, sweet and low,
    Lest I should fear and fall, and miss Thee so
      Who art not missed by any that entreat.
      - Comfort [Religion]

The world goes whispering to its own,
  "This anguish pierces to the bone;"
    And tender friends go sighing round,
      "What love can ever cure this wound?"
        My days go on, my days go on.
      - De Profundis (st. 5) [Despair]

O brave poets, keep back nothing;
  Nor mix falsehood with the whole!
    Look up Godward! speak the truth in
      Worthy song from earnest soul!
        Hold, in high poetic duty,
          Truest Truth the fairest Beauty.
      - Dead Pan (st. 39) [Poets]

Thy lips which spake wrong counsel, I kiss close.
      - Drama of Exile
         (sc. Farther on, etc., l. 992) [Kisses]

Pray, pray, thou who also weepest,--
  And the drops will slacken so;
    Weep, weep--and the watch thou keepest,
      With a quicker count will go.
        Think,--the shadow on the dial
          For the nature most undone,
            Marks the passing of the trial,
              Proves the presence of the sun.
      - Fourfold Aspect [Trials]

And a breastplate made of daisies,
  Closely fitting, leaf on leaf,
    Periwinkles interlaced
      Drawn for belt about the waist;
        While the brown bees, humming praises,
          Shot their arrows round the chief.
      - Hector in the Garden [Daisies]

Brazen helm of daffodillies,
  With a glitter toward the light.
    Purple violets for the mouth,
      Breathing perfumes west and south;
        And a sword of flashing lilies,
          Holden ready for the fight.
      - Hector in the Garden [Flowers]

Eyes of gentianellas azure,
  Staring, winking at the skies.
      - Hector in the Garden [Eyes]

For none can express thee, though all should approve thee.
  I love thee so, Dear, that I only can love thee.
      - Insufficiency [Love]

Red as a rose of Harpocrate.
      - Isabel's Child [Roses]

The large white owl that with eye is blind,
  That hath sate for years in the old tree hollow,
    Is carried away in a gust of wind.
      - Isobel's Child (st. 19) [Owls]

Behold me! I am worthy
  Of thy loving, for I love thee!
      - Lady Geraldine's Courtship (st. 79) [Love]

Ah, ah, Cytherea! Adonis is dead.
  She wept tear after tear, with the blood which was shed,--
    And both turned into flowers for the earth's garden-close;
      Her tears, to the wind-flower,--his blood, to the rose.
      - Lament for Adonis (st. 6) [Flowers]

I was betrothed that day;
  I wore a troth kiss on my lips I could not give away.
      - Lay of the Brown Rosary (pt. II) [Kisses]

Mountain gorses, do ye teach us
  . . . .
    That the wisest word man reaches
      Is the humblest he can speak?
      - Lessons from the Gorse [Gorses]

Mountain gorses, ever-golden.
  Cankered not the whole year long!
    Do ye teach us to be strong,
      Howsoever pricked and holden
        Like your thorny blooms and so
          Trodden on by rain and snow,
            Up the hillside of this life, as bleak as where ye grow?
      - Lessons from the Gorse [Gorses]

You smell a rose through a fence:
  If two should smell it, what matter?
      - Lord Walter's Wife [Roses]

And there my little doves did sit
  With feathers softly brown
    And glittering eyes that showed their right
      To general Nature's deep delight.
      - My Doves [Doves]

And I must bear
  What is ordained with patience, being aware
    Necessity doth front the universe
      With an invincible gesture.
      - Prometheus Bound [Patience]

A white rosebud for a guerdon.
      - Romance of the Swan's Nest [Roses]

Sacrament of morning.
      - Sabbath at Sea (st. 6, last line)
        [Morning]

Sleep on, Baby, on the floor,
  Tired of all the playing,
    Sleep with smile the sweeter for
      That you dropped away in!
        On your curls' full roundness stand
          Golden lights serenely--
            One cheek, pushed out by the hand,
              Folds the dimple inly.
      - Sleeping and Watching [Sleep]

God keeps a niche
  In Heaven, to hold our idols; and albeit
    He brake them to our faces, and denied
      That our close kisses should impair their white,--
        I know we shall behold them raised, complete,
          The dust swept from their beauty, glorified,
            New Memnons singing in the great God-light.
      - Sonnet--Futurity with the Departed
        [Heaven]


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