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Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

Sonnets from the Portuguese 1: I Thought how Theocritus


              1I thought once how Theocritus had sung
              2Of the sweet years, the dear and wished for years,
              3Who each one in a gracious hand appears
              4To bear a gift for mortals, old or young:
              5And, as I mused it in his antique tongue,
              6I saw, in gradual vision through my tears,
              7The sweet, sad years, the melancholy years,
              8Those of my own life, who by turns had flung
              9A shadow across me. Straightway I was 'ware,
            10So weeping, how a mystic Shape did move
            11Behind me, and drew me backward by the hair,
            12And a voice said in mastery, while I strove, ...
            13`Guess now who holds thee?'--`Death,' I said. But there,
            14The silver answer rang ... `Not Death, but Love.'


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Poems. 4th edn. 3 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1856. PR 4180 E44a ROBA
First publication date: 1850
RPO poem editor: J. D. Robins
RP edition: 2RP.II.342.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/6

Composition date: 1845 - 1846
Form: sonnet


Other poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning