Romantic Selections I

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by Elizabeth B. Browning

– IX –
Can it be right to give what I can give?
To let thee sit beneath the fall of tears
As salt as mine, and hear the sighing years

Re-sighing on my lips renunciative
Through those infrequent smiles which fail to live
For all thy adjurations?
O my fearas,
That this can scarce be right!
We are not peers
So to be lovers; and I own, and grieve,
That giverso of such gifts as mine are, must
Be counted with the ungenerous.
Out, alas! I will not soil thy purple with my dust,
Nor breathe my poison on thy Venice-glass,
Nor give thee any love– which were unjust.
Beloved, I only love thee!
let it pass
– XIV –
If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love’s sake only.  Do not say
“I love her smile– her look–her way of speaking gently, —
for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought A sens of pleasant ease on suc a day”–
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may Be changed, or change for thee, –and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so.
Neither love me for Thinw own dear pity’s wiping my cheeks dry,–
A creature might forget to week, who bore Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love’s sake, that evermore Thou may’st love on, through love’s eternity.

– XXII –
When our two souls stand up erect and strong,
Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher,
Until the lengthening wings break into fire
At either curved point,– what bitter wrong
Can the earth do to us, that we should not long Be here contented?
Think! In mounting higher, The angels would press on us and aspire
To drop some golden orb of perfect song
Into our deep, dear silence.  Let us stay Rather on earth, Beloved,
–where the unfit Contrarious moods of men recoil away
And isolate pure spirits, and permit A place to stand and love in for a day,
With darkness and the death-hour rounding it.
– XXIX –
I think of thee!–my thoughts do twine and bud
About thee, as wild vines, about a tree,
Put out broad leaves, and soon there’s nought to see
Except the straggling green which hides the wood.
Yet, O my palm-tree, be it understood
I will not have my thoughts instead of thee who art dearer, better!
Rather, instantly Renew thy presence; as a strong tree should,
Rustle thy boughts and set thy trunk all bare,
And let these bands of greenery which inspere thee,
Drop heavily down,–burst, shattered everywhere!
Because, in this deep joy to see and hear thee
And breathe within thy shadow a new air,
I do not think of thee– I am too near 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 everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freelye, 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.

Last modified: May 20, 2011

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